Rally legend Stéphane Peterhansel overcame difficult weather conditions to emerge victorious at Baja Poland after eight months away from competitive racing as Polish driver Kuba Przygoński finished strongly with two stage wins. Here is all you need to know:
– Thirteen-time Dakar Rally champion Peterhansel wasted no time in showing that he is still a force behind the wheel after he took control before the midway point.
– He held his nerve in the MINI John Cooper Works Rally car alongside new co-driver Edouard Boulanger to end 12 minutes and 48 seconds ahead of Dutchman Bernhard ten Brinke following 444 kilometres of tricky timed racing spread over seven special stages.
– Peterhansel, 55, said: “I start each rally with a plan to win, but this time I just wanted to focus on getting in tune with my new co-driver. Getting a win in our first rally together is a great start. This has been one of the most difficult rallies I have ever competed in. We are used to desert conditions, and here we struggled with water and mud.”
– Peterhansel and Boulanger were able to celebrate, thanks in large part to staying out of trouble on the previous day when torrential rain had seen a number of their rivals fall away as track conditions worsened including three-time Dakar winner Nasser Al-Attiyah.
– Clogged filters and the threat of engine failure forced Qatari Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Mathieu Baumel to retire during the third special stage where Przygoński also saw his victory chances disappear after losing a wheel and 40 minutes on subsequent repairs.
– Al-Attiyah, 49, explained: “It is very disappointing to retire from an event like this, but I was glad to be at Baja Poland after I stayed at home for eight months.”
– Polish couple Michal Małuszyński and Julita Małuszyńska competed under their own licence to round out the podium with Przygoński and German co-driver Timo Gottschalk in fifth.
– Przygoński, 35, said: “It rained heavily for the first two days. The entire route was virtually covered in water and the puddles were so deep that they were a constant danger. We won the last two stages, so we finish smiling.”
– Reigning FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies champion Peterhansel will now target next month’s Rally of Andalusia as preparations continue for 2021’s Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia.
2020 Baja Poland result:
1. S. Peterhansel (FRA) / E. Boulanger (FRA) MINI 5h52m20s
2. B. Ten Brinke (HOL) / T. Colsoul (BEL) Toyota +12m48s
3. M. Małuszyński (POL) / J. Małuszyńska (POL) MINI +23m04s
4. A. Domzala (POL) / S. Gospodarczyk (POL) Can-Am +24m42s
5. J. Przygoński (POL) / T. Gottschalk (GER) Toyota +35m52s