VESZPRÉM (HUNGARY) – Monday, August 6: Russian driver Vladimir Vasilyev and Spaniard Xavier ‘Xevi’ Pons will represent Overdrive Racing in this weekend’s HunGarian Baja, round eight of the 2018 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.
The 48-year-old Russian claimed victory in the 2014 FIA World Cup. Recent outright success at Spain’s Baja Aragón Teruel - on his first appearance with Overdrive Racing at the wheel of a Toyota Hilux - has lifted the G-Energy Team driver to within 52 points of the series-leading Polish driver Jakub Przygonski and 11 points in front of third-placed Czech rival Martin Prokop.
With Bajas still to run in Hungary and Portugal this season - and 30 points available to the winner of each – plus a maximum of 60 points heading to the winner of the Rally of Morocco in October, Vasilyev and navigator Konstantin Zhiltsov are quite rightly confident that they can make a late bid for a second FIA World Cup title in five seasons.
Former WRC driver Xavier ‘Xevi’ Pons joined Overdrive Racing for the first time in Spain last month and was lying in third overall at the start of the final morning before a technical issue cost him a potential podium finish. The experienced Spaniard returns to drive the second Toyota and teams up with fellow Spaniard Rodrigo San Juan de Eusebio.
Overdrive Racing has won the Hungarian event on two previous occasions. Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah climbed on to the top step of the podium with French navigator Matthieu Baumel in 2014 and repeated the feat last season with his Toyota Hilux. Dutchman Bernhard Ten Brinke and Belgian navigator Tom Colsoul finished second with the team in 2015.
Organised by Garzone Events, the Hungarian race is based at the baroque-style town of Veszprém, located 17km from Lake Balaton and in close proximity to the Bakony forest, a mountainous region in Transdanubia.
After technical checks and scrutineering at the nearby BudaWest airport, teams will head to the ceremonial start in Óváros Square, Veszprém, and then tackle a super special stage of 11.40km on Friday evening (August 10). This will determine the all-important starting order for the first of the two longer competitive sections.
Drivers will then tackle two runs through a selective section of 219.50km on Saturday before the ceremonial finish in Veszprém on Saturday evening.
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – standings after round 7:
1. Jakub Przygonski (POL) 237pts
2. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) 185pts
3. Martin Prokop (CZE) 174pts
4. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU) 60pts
5. Yasir Seaidan (SAU) 58pts
6. José Luis Pena Campo (ESP) 48pts
7. Ahmed Al-Shegawi (SAU) 45pts
8. Aron Domzala (POL) 36pts
9. Claude Fournier (FRA) 31pts
10. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT) 30pts, etc