SZCZECIN (POLAND) – Sunday, September 2: Russian driver Vladimir Vasilyev and navigator Konstantin Zhiltsov earned a podium finish in Columna Medica Baja Poland, round nine of the 2018 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, and managed to keep their title hopes alive on Sunday.
Forty-nine-year-old Vasilyev began the three-day Szczecin-based event trailing Poland’s Jakub Przygonski by 57 points in his G-Energy Toyota Hilux. The Russian now finds himself 71 points behind the former enduro rider with a maximum 90 available to the winner of the last two rounds of the series in Morocco and Portugal.
Przygonski managed to claim maximum points by winning his home event from Polish veteran Krzysztof Holowczyc. Vasilyev passed Czech driver Martin Prokop on the final morning and moved up from fourth to third overall, a position he held to the finish.
Denmark’s Jes Munk made a welcome return to the FIA World Cup with Poland’s Maciej Marton in a second Overdrive Racing Toyota. But the Dane suffered a knee issue on the first of the longer selective sections and was forced to withdraw.
Vasilyev opened his account with the third quickest time of 6min 14.1sec through the 7.08km super special stage that preceded two passes through a 222.060km test at the Drawsko Pomorskie military training ground. The Russian trailed Przygonski by 11.4 seconds through the opener and second-placed Prokop by 10.3 seconds.
Holowczyc recorded the quickest time of 2hrs 15min 54sec through the first of the two longer stages on Saturday morning and the multiple winner of Baja Poland snatched an outright 1min 41.5sec advantage over fellow Pole Przygonski.
From a starting position of fourth on the road, Vasilyev used all his experience to good effect to set the third quickest time, despite a puncture, and consolidated a similar position in the overall standings, 7min 06.9sec behind the outright race leader heading to the service point between the two long specials.
Munk and Martin were forced to retire the second of the Overdrive Toyotas after the Danish driver suffered a knee issue and went to hospital for treatment.
Przygonski regained the advantage on the re-run of the longer stage and headed into the night halt with a lead of 3min 27sec, but Vasilyev slipped to fourth overall after ceding valuable time to Prokop following a delay at a watersplash.
Action concluded with a pair of runs through two shorter Krekowo and Lubieszyn off-road stages in the nearby Dobra municipality before the ceremonial finish in Szczecin on Sunday.
Vasilyev clocked the third quickest time through the first run in Krekowo and was fourth in Lubieszyn. He regained third overall after Prokop lost over seven minutes on the opener with fuel pump issues.
The Russian safely negotiated the penultimate stage behind the leading Poles and two Czech rivals and drive cautiously through the closing 10.50km to confirm third place behind Przygonski and Holowczyc.
Action in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies resumes with the Rally of Morocco at the start of October.
2018 Columna Medica Baja Poland – results after SS7 (unofficial):
1. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) MINI John Cooper Works Rally 5hrs 27min 45sec
2. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL)/Lukasz Kurzeja (POL) MINI John Cooper Works Rally 5hrs 31min 19sec
3. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) Toyota Hilux 5hrs 44min 41sec
4. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tománek (CZE) Ford Raptor RS Cross-Country 5hrs 48min 41sec
5. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Bartosz Momot (POL) Ford F-150 Evo 5hrs 50min 31sec
6. Petr Hozák (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SVK) Hummer H3 RS 6hrs 18min 22sec
Jes Munk (DEN)/Maciej Martin (POL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive DNF
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – standings after round 9 (unofficial):
1. Jakub Przygonski (POL) 288pts
2. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) 217pts
3. Martin Prokop (CZE) 196pts
4. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU) 60pts
5. Yasir Seaidan (SAU) 58pts, etc