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2018 - Baja Russia - Northern Forest Rally - 16 to 18 February

Desert Dog

Dakar Finisher
Press release from Overdrive:


· Poland’s Domzala looks to win in Russia for second successive year
· Defending FIA T2 World Champion Yasir Saiedan switches to a Toyota Hilux

KARELIA (RUSSIA) – Monday, February 12:

Overdrive Racing will run three Toyota Hiluxes at the Baja Russia Northern Forest Rally, the opening round of the 2018 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, and each of the three drivers have very different objectives at the only snow and ice round of the series. The event takes place on February 16-18.

Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah clinched his fourth FIA World Cup title in Morocco last October before going on to finish second in the recent Dakar Rally. The Moroccan success was the second successive series triumph for Overdrive Racing and Toyota and came after Al-Attiyah and French navigator Matthieu Baumel won seven of the 11 rounds of the championship.

After driving the very latest specification Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa Team Hilux in South America last month, Al-Attiyah reverts to a 2017-specification Toyota for his challenge for honours in the snowy wastelands of Karelia in north-western Russia this weekend.

He will be aiming to win the FIA World Cup for a fifth time and give Overdrive Racing a hat-trick of series titles with a car entered under a new Tamim Al-Majid Team banner. The Qatari will also be hoping to win this event for the first time.

Poland’s Aron Domzala and navigator Szymon Gospodarczyk claimed their one and only FIA World Cup win at the Russian event last February with Overdrive Racing. Domzala endured mixed fortunes for the rest of his campaign, after leading the series outright heading to the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in April.

He went on to finish third in the Drivers’ Championship behind Al-Attiyah and Polish rival Jakub Przygonski and will be aiming to move up at least one step on the podium in 2018. Maciej Marton navigated for Domzala for much of 2017 and he returns to action in Karelia.

The talented Saudi Arabian driver Yasir Saiedan crews the third Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux. He joins the team for the first time after being crowned the FIA T2 World Champion with his privately-run Toyota Land Cruiser in 2017.

Saiedan was the runaway winner of the prestigious category for series production cross-country vehicles last year, but the powerful V8-engined Hilux marks a major step up in performance for him and Russian navigator Alexei Kuzmich.

Overdrive Racing’s CEO Jean-Marc Fortin said: “It’s always exciting to start a new FIA World Cup campaign and this event comes just three weeks or so after our successful Dakar Rally, where Toyotas filled two places on the podium and we also had two customer cars inside the top 10.

“We’ve made a strong start to the season and we need to keep that momentum going in Russia, where we will see a massive change in weather conditions from the 35-plus degrees we faced on many days in Dakar to temperatures that could be as low as -20°C on the stages in Karelia.”

The start of this year’s event will take place in the Ruskeala Mountain Park, located on the highway linking Russia with Finland. Pre-Baja formalities will be held in the small town of Sortavala and precede the 17km Prologue stage on Friday (February 16).

Crews will then face two days of competition (Saturday and Sunday, February 17-18) and four selective sections on snowy trails and forest tracks in the Suojarvi and Sortvala districts of the Republic of Karelia. The ceremonial finish will take place in the village of Vyartsilya on Sunday afternoon.

Desert Dog

Dakar Finisher
Wednesday, February 14th, 2018


· Fellow Qatari Nasser Al-Kuwari to navigate for 2016 FIA T2 World Champion

KARELIA (RUSSIA): Qatar’s Adel Abdulla, the 2016 FIA T2 World Cup champion, begins his campaign to regain the prestigious title for drivers of series production cross-country vehicles at this weekend’s Baja Russia Northern Forest Rally.

The only snow and ice event in the 11-round FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies is based in the Republic of Karelia in the area of north-western Russia near the border with Finland.

Adel has teamed up with fellow Qatari Nasser Al-Kuwari and will drive a Toyota Land Cruiser VDJ 200 on the opening round where temperatures could fall to below -20°C - a far cry from the heat of the Qatar deserts.

Running with support from the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF), Adel was crowned champion two seasons ago, but delays and misfortune on the early rounds of the 2017 series meant that he was too far behind the eventual champion to enable him to post a late challenge for the title.

“This is my second time here in Russia,” said Adel Abdulla. “Last year we were here with the Nissan and this year we will drive the Land Cruiser in Russia. I want to try the car. It is the model used by several of our main competitors last year. We had options on the table and offers from other teams, but I opted for the Toyota here.

“This year I would like to be more successful than 2017. We will try to win the T2 championship for the second time. We had bad luck in the beginning of the season last year. In Russia, we went off the road and we lost the lead. In Dubai and Abu Dhabi, we had technical problems and in Qatar also. There was a big gap in the points after three big races. I hope we will have a good result this time and do a good job. It will be a new experience for Nasser, my co-driver, but I am sure he will do a professional job. We both want to win this race.”

“I wish to thank His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation and the Government of Qatar for this exciting opportunity.”

Adel Abdulla faces competition in the T2 category this weekend from the likes of Russia’s Alexei Titov (Ford) and Yuliya Migunova-Khegay (Ford), Poland’s Tomasz Baranowski (Toyota), Portugal’s Bruno Oliveira (Nissan) and Romania’s Laurentiu Barbu (Nissan).


For further information: http://www.northern-forest.ru/en/

Desert Dog

Dakar Finisher
Two press releases both with Qataris competing in the world cup.

With Qatar being ostracised as far as the rest of the Gulf countries are concerned, both Nasser and Adel will more than likely not be able to race in the Dubai Baja and the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.


Well-Known Member
Two press releases both with Qataris competing in the world cup.

With Qatar being ostracised as far as the rest of the Gulf countries are concerned, both Nasser and Adel will more than likely not be able to race in the Dubai Baja and the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
Ahhh...was wondering why he was over there...I seem to remember most top racers skipping the Russian event in prior years...

Are Qataris not even allowed into Dubai and the UAE?


Well-Known Member
Good read from Marathon-Rally website (revived a few weeks ago by its owners):

Baja Russia Northern Forest: Entry list the strongest in the race-history

Adding to this - most teams are now testing in Sweden and Finland. Seaidan already damaged the side of his Toyota, Nasser from what I have seen in the videos is real quick, quickest of the 3 Yotas.

The classic rally representation is really strong and since many stages are same as on the stage rallies some of these guys will be quick if their cars can survive it. Tapio Lauronen from Finland in a Mitsubishi will be quick for sure.

Gadasin was the 0 car recently at Rally Karelia (stage rally) so has got the pace notes. Shame really - he was zeroing in his G-Force and was going flat out instead of actually doing the 0 job. And Oparina in SSV is the competitor liason officer of Northern Forest... Go figure.


Well-Known Member
Over Drive Racing test in Finland - Nasser, Aron, Yasir
The Toyota V8s like the cold dense air. Like the 'crazy' grin on Nasser's face - probably doing the jumps on the snow and ice.
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Desert Dog

Dakar Finisher
Saturday, February 17th, 2018


· Russian driver Alexey Titov leads T2 category after three timed stages

KARELIA (RUSSIA): Qatar’s Adel Abdulla was embroiled in a gripping battle with Russian driver Alexey Titov through the super special stage and opening selective section of the Baja Russia Northern Forest Rally before losing time on the second of the icy and snowy competitive sections on Saturday afternoon.

The Qatari and navigator Nasser Al-Kuwari are taking part in the opening round of the 2018 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies in a bid to regain the FIA T2 World Championship in their Toyota Land Cruiser VDJ 200. They held second position in T2 at the end of the day behind Titov and ahead of Portugal’s Bruno Oliveira after slipping off the road and into a snow bank.

Running with support from the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) and the Qatar Government, Adel now needs to recover the lost time over the remaining two stages on Sunday and try and amass as many points as possible.

“Today we had a very good first stage and only dropped 27 seconds to the leader,” said Adel Abdulla. “But, on the second one, after around 50km from the start, on one corner there was part of an armoured car and I tried to avoid it and we slipped off the road and got stuck on the front left in a wall of snow. We lost a lot of time because the other T2 competitors didn’t stop to help and we had to wait until one of the local drivers pulled us out. We lost time to the leader, but we are still second and still have two stages to go and will try as hard as possible.”

Action got underway on Friday afternoon with a Prologue stage of 17km and Adel clocked a time of 16min 39sec, which put him into second position in the T2 category, 50 seconds behind the Ford F-150 Raptor of Titov. Poland’s Tomasz Baranowski and Oliveira were third and fourth, while Russian Yuliya Migunova-Khegay rounded off the top five in a second Ford Raptor.

Titov managed to extend his advantage over Adel Abdulla by another 27 seconds through a hard fought opening selective section on Saturday morning and consolidated that advantage on the second one when the Qatari dropped 29 minutes after leaving the track and slipped behind Oliveira through the opening kilometres of the stage. The Qatari managed to recoup some of the lost time and retained second position.

The action concludes with a further two selective sections on snowy trails and forest tracks in the Suojarvi and Sortvala districts of the Republic of Karelia on Sunday before the ceremonial finish in the village of Vyartsilya.

For further information: http://www.northern-forest.ru/en/

Desert Dog

Dakar Finisher

· Poland’s Aron Domzala rolls twice and retires before final timed test
· Yasir Saiedan delivers stunning debut performance to finish fifth overall

KARELIA (RUSSIA) – Sunday, February 18: Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah began the defence of his FIA World Cup title in convincing style with a start-to-finish maiden victory in Baja Russia Northern Forest Rally, the opening round of the 2018 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.

The Qatari and French navigator Matthieu Baumel won four of the five stages in their Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux, running under the Tamim Al-Majid Team banner, to reach the finish 5min 55sec ahead of former WRC star Martin Prokop.

Overdrive Racing entered three Toyotas in the only snow and ice round of the series, held over the demanding snow-covered forest trails of the Republic of Karelia in north-western Russia. Saudi Arabian team debutant Yasir Saiedan delivered a stunning performance to reach the finish in fifth place with Russian navigator Alexei Kuzmich.

Poland’s Aron Domzala and Maciej Marton endured a fraught weekend in the third Toyota. Last year’s winner rolled his car on both of Saturday’s timed stages and retired before the second of the stages on the final day.

Al-Attiyah said: “It was a good rally for me. We were here for the first time and managed to win. I have a lot of fans in Russia. It was a nice start to the season and, of course, thanks to Toyota. It’s the best team!”

Al-Attiyah and Baumel kick-started the action through a 17km super special stage on Friday afternoon and set the target time of 12min 12sec in their 2017-specification Toyota Hilux. Rival Jakub Przygonski dropped 1min 25sec to the Qatari, but Al-Attiyah’s Overdrive Racing team-mate and last year’s Russian winner Domzala pipped the champion by four seconds to snatch the overnight lead.

Saeidan carded an impressive time of 13min 31sec on his debut with the Toyota and settled into sixth overall, beating Przygonski and the experienced Russian Boris Gadasin in the process.

Al-Attiyah extended his lead through the first of the selective sections on Saturday morning by beating Tapio Lauronen by 48 seconds and the Qatari was four minutes quicker than Russian driver Vladimir Vasilyev through the second one to extend his lead at the second overnight halt to 4min 20sec over Martin Prokop. Saiedan was sixth in the opener and fourth in the second stage to hold sixth overall, but Domzala dropped 13 minutes in the opener and then lost a further 24 minutes in SS3 after rolling his Toyota twice. He slipped to 16th overall.

The Pole said: “Yes, we rolled over twice. You can say, it was a pretty bad day. The first time I was a bit quicker in the turn that it was necessary. There was a snow bank and we overturned and blocked the road. Thanks to Yasir Saiedan for helping us and Martin Prokop the second time.”

Teams tackled a further two selective sections on Sunday before the ceremonial finish in the village of Vyartsilya. Al-Attiyah carded a time of 1hr 19min 50sec through the first stage to beat Prokop by 1min 18sec and extend his comfortable lead in the overall classification. Saeidan and Domzala were fifth and seventh.

There were no late dramas for the Qatari in the shorter final selective section and another fastest time – 15 seconds quicker than Prokop – earned the two-time Dakar winner his first victory in Russia. Saeidan was sixth quickest but Domzala retired before the stage start to cap a disappointing weekend for the Pole.

2018 Baja Russia Northern Forest Rally – final results

1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 5hrs 14min 07sec
2. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tomanek (CZE) Ford F150 Evo 5hrs 20min 02sec
3. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) MINI One 5hrs 25min 31sec
4. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) MINI John Cooper Works Rally 5hrs 36min 27sec
5. Yasir Saeidan (SAU)/Alexei Kuzmich (RUS) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 5hrs 41min 09sec
6. Andrey Rudskoy (RUS)/Evgeny Zagorodniuk (RUS) G-Force BARS 6hrs 00min 56sec
7. Fernando Alvarez (ESP)/Juan Pablo Monasterolo (ARG) Volkswagen Amarok 6hrs 10min 29sec
8. Alexsey Titov (RUS)/Andrey Rusov (RUS) Ford F150 6hrs 44min 46sec