Baja Aragon: Second place for Ekström
Jul 24, 2021
- Seaidan still FIA World Cup for Cross-Country-Bajas leader
- 15th place for Kleinschmidt
Swedes Mattias Ekström and Emil Bergkvist finished runner-up at the Baja Aragon in Spain to claim their second podium result in a row. After three special stages, they came home five minutes behind Nasser Al-Attiyah in the Toyota. Jutta Kleinschmidt and Philipp Beier (both GER) were 15th in the MINI ALL4 Racing. Rui Carneiro ended his first rally in the MINI ALL4 Racing in 36th place, having encountered problems on the opening day. Yasir Seaidan and Alexey Kuzmich also had no luck on the first stage and eventually had to settle for 52nd place. Poles Krzysztof Holowczyc and Lukasz Kurzeja were unfortunate in the MINI JCW Rally. After sixth place on Friday, they were forced to retire today as a result of an issue with the drivetrain. The side-by-side crew Annett Fischer (GER) and Ioannis Ganotis (GRE) are still on the way in the last stage.
Ekström came through the three special stages around the city of Teruel without any major problems. Having been third on the opening day, then fifth and second on today’s stage, they finished a great second overall. “It was a good rally for us,” said Ekström at the finish. “We had a lot of fun on day one. I pushed a bit harder on the second special stage, but the route was tough. We tried to drive fast but without taking risks, and that paid dividends in the end. I am happy and Emil also did a great job.”
For Kleinschmidt, the Baja Aragon marked a first outing at an FIA World Cup event after a long time away. As such, she took a rather cautious approach to the first stage. Unfortunately, due to the stony track, punctures forced them to stop on the second stage, causing them to lose several minutes.
“I am happy that the Baja went so good for me,” Kleinschmidt reports. “The MINI performed well. We improved over the weekend. Today we unfortunately had a couple of puctures, but if you subtract those, I’m very happy with the performance. The cooperation with Philipp worked well.”
Carneiro’s debut in the MINI ALL4 Racing did not go to plan. The Portuguese driver broke the wheel rim on Friday, and lost a lot of time as a result. However, he was able to show what he is really capable of with tenth and eleventh place on Saturday.
Championship leader Yasir Seaidan was very unlucky. He hit a stone on the opening stage and damaged the MINI JCW Rally. The repair also cost him a lot of time, ruling him out of the battle for the podium. Seaidan showed what might have been on stage two, when he crossed the finish line in eighth place. Fortunately, the Saudi had opened up a good lead in the overall standings at the previous events. Despite finishing 52nd this weekend, he continues to lead the championship.
The sixth event of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas is the Hungarian Baja (5th to 8th August 2021).
Baja Aragon overall standings
1. N. Al-Attiyah / M. Baumel – Toyota – 6h 32m 44s
2. M. Ekström / E. Bergkvist – MINI ALL4 Racing – 6h 37m 24s
3. Y. Al-Rajhi / M. Orr – Toyota – 6h 38m 59s
4. T. Reis / V. Cardoso – Toyota – 6h 39m 34s
5. N. Roma / A. Haro – Prodrive Hunter – 6h 39m 52s
15. J. Kleinschmidt / P. Beier – MINI ALL4 Racing – 7h 08m 56s
36. R. Carneiro / P. Fiuza – MINI ALL4 Racing – 7h 51m 35s
52. Y. Seaidan / A. Kuzmich – MINI JCW Rally – 10h 34m 37s
Tba A. Fischer / I. Ganotis – Maverik X3