SZCZECIN BEZRZECZE Poland: The five-car Overdrive Racing team endured mixed fortunes at Baja Poland, round eight of the 2014 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, which finished in the town of Szczecin Bezrzecze yesterday.
The Team Orlen duo of Adam Malysz and Rafal Marton led the way over the finish ramp with a solid second position in the first of the five Belgian run Toyota Hiluxes behind Polish rally winner Krzysztof Holowczyc.
Marek Dabrowski and Jacek Czachor were classified fourth in the second Team Orlen car. Dutchman Bernhard Ten Brinke and Belgian co-driver Tom Colsoul made a solid start to their pre-Dakar preparations and held fifth place before retiring after leaving the track on the fourth stage.
There was disappointment for Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah and his French co-driver Matthieu Baumel.
They led after the Prologue and the opening stage and then damaged the Toyota’s suspension on the second run through the Poligon Drawski stage and retired.
The incident was a set back to Al Attiyah’s chances of winning the FIA World Cup for the second time.
Renowned Polish enduro rider Tadeusz ‘Taddy’ Blażusiak was running well inside the top 10 on his car debut, but he and French navigator Edouard Boulanger were forced out of the reckoning on the same stage after rolling their Toyota.
The competitive action got underway with an eight-kilometre Prologue stage and Al Attiyah drew first blood for the Overdrive Racing team by setting the fastest time of 6min 42.6sec to move into a comfortable 17-second lead.
Dabrowski and Malysz were fourth and fifth, Ten Brinke was eighth on his Toyota debut and Blazusiak crossed the line in 10th, despite the wet conditions.
“The stage was a good warm up for the longer ones,” said Al Attiyah. “There were lots of deep ruts, so I tried to be cautious, especially in the corners.”
The first of two runs through the 192km Poligon Drawski selective section was on the agenda on Saturday morning and Holowczyc recorded the fastest time and moved 1min 40sec in front of Al Attiyah in the overall rankings after the Qatari was forced to stop and change a puncture.
Malysz and Dabrowski climbed to third and fourth overall. Blazusiak was an impressive eighth on his debut in a car.