PORDENONE (ITALY): Fresh from taking a stunning victory in Baja Russia Northern Forest ’14 to lead the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, Belgium’s Overdrive Racing has entered four cars in the 21st Italian Baja – round two of the series – for a second successive season. The event takes place in the Pordenone region of northern Italy on March 14-16.
Saudi driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi leads the drivers’ championship after taking the win in Russia and is combining his FIA World Cup programme in the Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux with a mixture of special stage rallies in the FIA World and Middle East rally championships. The Riyadh driver lines up with the experienced German co-driver Timo Gottschalk for the second time.
The Brazilian duo of Reinaldo Varela and Gustavo Gugelmin won the Baja Italy outright in 2013 and they crew a second Overdrive Toyota, while the Polish quartet of Marek Dabrowski and Jacek Czachor and Adam Malysz and Rafal Marton complete the team line-up in two more Hiluxes. Varela and Dabrowski were third and fifth at the opening event in northern Russia last month and hold similar positions in the FIA World Cup standings.
Four Overdrive cars finished inside the top 10 in Italy last year. Behind winners Varela and Gugelmin, former ski jump world champion Malysz finished fourth in his Team Orlen car and Russian driver Ruslan Misikov and Venezuelan Nunzio Coffaro were sixth and ninth.
“We have made an excellent start to our challenge for honours in this year’s FIA World Cup with the result in Russia and I am delighted that we have such a strong team line-up for Italy,” said Overdrive team director Jean-Marc Fortin.
Organised by the Fuoristrada Club 4×4 Pordenone, scrutineering and administration gets proceedings underway on Thursday afternoon (March 13) at the pavilion in Fiera PordenonE. this is followed by the opening 7.7km super special stage – ‘Memorial Claudio ‘Caco’ Azzaretti – along the Meduna river bed between Zoppola and Cordenons on Friday, March 14th from 4pm.
Action resumes on Saturday morning (March 15) with the start of the first of four 92km selective sections from 07.50hrs. The stage in the Tagliamento and Cosa river areas is repeated during the afternoon.
Repeat runs through the special follow on Sunday before the prize giving ceremony takes place at Fiera Pordonone from 17.00hrs.
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – positions after round 1 (unofficial):
1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU) 30pts
2. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) 21pts
3. Reinaldo Varela (BRA) 16pts
4. Martin Kaczmarksi (POL) 12pts
5. Marek Dabrowski (POL) 10pts
6. Ruslan Misikov (RUS) 8pts, etc