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VESZPRÉM (HUNGARY) – Saturday, August 11: Russian driver Vladimir Vasilyev and Spaniard Xavier ‘Xevi’ Pons finished third and fourth in the overall standings at the Veszprém-based HunGarian Baja, round round eight of the 2018 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, on Saturday.

The result enabled 48-year-old Vasilyev to maintain his challenge for a second FIA World Cup title, although the Toyota Hilux driver did cede a further five points to series leader Jakub Przygonski, the Pole finishing second overall behind Joan Roma in the first of two Eastern European rounds of the series in the space of a month. 

Vasilyev, who was partnered by his usual navigator Konstantin Zhiltsov, now trails the Pole by 57 points with 30 still available to the winner of each of the remaining Bajas in Poland and Portugal and 60 going to the winner of the Rally of Morocco in October. 

Xavier ‘Xevi’ Pons enjoyed his second event with Overdrive Racing and reached the finish 19 seconds behind the Russian in a solid fourth position with fellow Spaniard Rodrigo San Juan.

Overdrive Racing’s CEO Jean-Marc Fortin said: “Both Vladimir and Xevi delivered solid performances to reach the finish in third and fourth. The Toyotas ran without problems, but Vladimir is still on the road to recovery from a big crash in Russia two weeks ago and Xevi is still learning about pure bumpy off-road tracks. This was a good finish for him and will give him confidence for the rest of the season.”

Pons and Vasilyev completed the opening 11.4km super special stage in fourth and sixth positions on Friday afternoon. Przygonski won the stage in a time of 6min 49sec. 

Roma moved to the top of the leader board after the first of the two selective sections on Saturday morning. The Spaniard won the longer of the two parts of the competitive section to edge into a 46-second lead over Przygonski. 

Vasilyev climbed to third with the fastest time on the short part of the stage and the third quickest time on the longer section. The Russian trailed the leader by 4min 24sec heading to the service point. Pons was fourth overall after setting the fourth quickest time on both sections of the special. 

Pons and Vasilyev were second and fifth quickest on the repeat of the short section of the stage to maintain third and fourth overall, but the longer part was shortened to 153km and finished at PC2 because of inclement stage and weather conditions. 

Roma clocked the target time of 1hr 13min 24sec to confirm the outright win over Przygonski by 16 seconds. Vasilyev’s stage time of 1hr 18min 31sec was enough to wrap up third place and Pons reached the finish in fourth overall. 

Action resumes in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies with the Columna Medica Baja Poland on August 30-September 2.

2018 HunGarian Baja– results after SS5 (unofficial @16.45hrs)

1. Joan Roma (ESP)/Alex Haro (ESP) MINI John Cooper Works Rally                            3hrs 48min 22sec

2. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) MINI John Cooper Works Rally                 3hrs 48min 38sec

3. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) Toyota Hilux                    3hrs 58min 20sec 

4. Xavier Pons (ESP)/Rodrigo San Juan (ESP) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 4hrs       3hrs 58min 39sec

5. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tománek (CZE) Ford Raptor RS Cross-Country                   4hrs 03min 35sec

6. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SVK) Ford F-150 Evo                                    4hrs 14min 45sec


FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – standings after round 8:

1. Jakub Przygonski (POL)                       258pts

2. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)                        201pts

3. Martin Prokop (CZE)                            184pts          

4. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)                         60pts

5. Yasir Seaidan (SAU)                            58pts, etc