Baja Aragon: Two MINI ALL4 Racing pairings secure top-five positions
• Hirvonen makes it to the podium
• Jutta Kleinschmidt takes the buggy to 12th place
While a part of the X-raid team celebrated on the Silk Way Rally finish podium in China’s capital Beijing, today, another part battled it out for the podium positions in Spain’s Baja Aragon. At the end of three days and four special stages, Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) and Michel Périn (FRA) finished third behind Al-Attiyah and Carlos Sainz, with Orlando Terranova (ARG) / Tom Colsoul (BEL) coming fifth. The buggy pairing Jutta Kleinschmidt / Philipp Beier (both GER) secured 12th place. Meanwhile, Ricardo Porém and Paulo Fiuza withdrew after an accident on the second day.
In the prologue on Friday afternoon, Hirvonen, Porém and Terranova secured the positions five to seven. In the starting-order determination procedure for the top 10, where the drivers could chose their position in the starting order, Porém selected the first starting position, followed by Terranova and Hirvonen.
In the second special stage on Saturday morning, Hirvonen was able to match the pace of the quickest to finish just eight seconds behind Sainz. Terranova secured the fine fifth place but Porém had bad luck: he crashed into a ditch and the result: a irreparably damaged MINI ALL4 Racing. In the afternoon, Hirvonen and Terranova once again were among the quickest. Hirvonen defended his second position in the overall standings and Terranova worked his way up to fourth
On Sunday, however, things didn’t run that well, for the Fin, the Argentinean and their MINI ALL4 Racing vehicles. Both suffered a tyre damage and lost several minutes while changing the tyres. The lost time meant for Hirvonen that he dropped from second to third position. “We had a good weekend,” said the Fin. “I wanted to pressurise Carlos on Sunday as he was just two minutes ahead and indeed: we made good progress until we had the puncture. Unfortunately, this offered Nasser the opportunity to also pass us. But we nonetheless made it to the podium.”
In addition to the time he lost because of the tyre damage, Terranova also received a time penalty for speeding in a speed zone and consequently dropped back to fifth. “Altogether, contesting this rally was fun,” revealed Terranova. “Unfortunately Mikko and I had to assume the pathfinder role on Saturday and this didn’t make things easier. And then the puncture and the time penalty on Sunday."
Kleinschmidt contested her buggy debut in a Baja and secured the solid 12th place. Having finished 19th in the prologue, the German really went for it on Saturday to come 12th and ninth, in the two special stages. On Sunday, however, she also suffered a puncture. Due to the lost time she had to settle for finishing 24th and dropped back from 8th to 12th in the overall standings.
Result stage 4:
1st N. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / M. Baumel (FRA) Toyota - 2h 22m 29s
2nd C. Sainz (ESP) / L. Crusz (ESP) Peugeot - 2h 23m 55s
3rd M. Hirvonen (FIN) / M. Périn (GER) MINI ALL4 Racing - 2h 25m 06s
4th X. Pons(ESP) / S. Lafuente (URU) Ford - 2h 25m 48s
5th O. Terranova (ARG) / T. Colsoul (BEL) MINI ALL4 Racing - 2h 25m 54s
24th J. Kleinschmidt (GER) / P. Beier (GER) Buggy - 2h 47m 55s
Overall standings after stage 4:
1st N. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / M. Baumel (FRA) Toyota - 6h 59m 59s
2nd C. Sainz (ESP) / L. Crusz (ESP) Peugeot - 7h 00m 18s
3rd M. Hirvonen (FIN) / M. Périn (GER) MINI ALL4 Racing - 7h 03m 29s
4th X. Pons(ESP) / S. Lafuente (URU) Ford - 7h 09m 56s
5th O. Terranova (ARG) / T. Colsoul (BEL) MINI ALL4 Racing - 7h 15m 21s
12th J. Kleinschmidt (GER) / P. Beier (GER) Buggy - 7h 58m 21s