Jakub Przygonski steers his Mini John Cooper Works Buggy during the Dubai International Baja Image Credit: Organiser

Dubai: Poland’s reigning world champion Jakub Przygonski secured his second successive victory in the Dubai International Baja, powered by Nissan and AW Rostamani, with a powerful surge on the second leg to deny the UAE’s Shaikh Khalid Al Qasimi on Saturday.

UAE-based South African rider Aaron Mare, who had led at the half way point last year before being halted by mechanical failure, captured the bikes title from Frenchman Benjamin Melot who finished runner-up for the third time in succession.

Partnered by German co-driver Timo Gottschalk in a Mini John Cooper Works Buggy, Przygonski wiped out Shaikh Khalid’s 48-seconds overnight cars lead to take victory by one min 10 secs from the Emirati and Frenchman Xavier Panseri in an Abu Dhabi Racing Peugeot 3008 DKR.

Finishing third another two minutes two seconds away in the second round of the 2019 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Bajas for cars and buggies were the Czech pairing of Martin Prokop and David Kripal in a Ford Raptor RS Cross Country. Setting the fastest time on the 204.93km Nissan stage, Russia’s Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov in a Toyota Hilux Overdrive took fourth place ahead of Benediktas Vanagas and Bartlomiej Boba in another Hilux. Czechs Miroslav Zapletal and Marek Sykora in a F150 Evo completed the top six.

Extending his overnight lead, Mare took his Husqvarna to the bikes crown by 7mins 42secs from Melot’s KTM as the opening round of this year’s FIM Bajas World Cup for bikes and quads reached its finish back at Dubai Autodrome, the official rally base.

Another UAE-based South African rider, Mark Ackerman, finished 1 mins 3 secs further away in third on his Husqvarna. Kuwait’s Mohammed Jaffar on a KTM, Emirati Sultan Baloushi on a Kawasaki and UAE-based Ryan Blair on a Husqvarna completed the top six.

Przygonski, whose Dubai Baja success last year launched him on a path towards the world title in the FIA cross country rally series, said after the Nissan stage: “We had a plan to push from the go and attack to the maximum levels. We caught up with Al Qasimi at the 150km mark and then we both stuck to each other. For 10kms we were chasing each other, jumping the dunes. I lost about two minutes when we got stuck, but pushed through and jumped through the dunes to the finish. I’m really happy and enjoyed it so much.”

Provisional results

Cars

  1. Jakub Przygonski / Timo Gottschalk (POL / GER) / Mini John Cooper Works Buggy 5:15:10
  2. Shaikh Khalid Al Qasimi / Xavier Panseri (ARE /FRA) / Peugeot 3008 DKR 5:16:20
  3. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (CZE / CZE) / Ford Raptor RS Cross Country 5:18:22

Bikes

  1. Aaron Mare (ARE) / HUSQVARNA 450 FC / 1 6:10:13
  2. Benjamin Melot (ARE) / KTM 450 SXF / 1 6:17:55
  3. Mark Ackerman (ARE) / HUSQVARNA FX 450 / 1 6:18:58