Vladimir Vasilyev drove more than one thousand kilometers along the endless sand dunes, overmastered the “Africa Eco Race” and the “Silk Way” and “Dakar” marathons. He is a multiple winner of the World Cup and Russian Championship rounds. But one race is essential for him – the only winter round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies is held in his native Leningrad region.

Northern Forest Baja is a special race. How do you keep calm, being an organizer, and drive as if you are just an ordinary participant?

Yes, it is difficult to be both an organizer and a driver. Some time ago I even thought I should not take part in the race, but since this is a World Cup round and quite an interesting one, I could not resist. The race is really beautiful. The only one in the World Cup calendar being held in the winter. The tracks that we have found in Karelia are simply gorgeous. It is possible to host not only the World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, but even with due diligence, even the WRC round – the distance is enough. It is a pity that Karelia is remote from St. Petersburg and there are not so many spectators. But next year we are planning to change the venue – the race start will take place next to St. Petersburg – and please the participants with new routes. In the meantime, enjoy insanely beautiful and interesting Karelian roads!

What is more exhausting – heat or frost?

If we talk about a man, the frost is easier for drivers. We are used to it, because in the North-West of Russia the temperature is not high more than half a year. When the temperature is +50C, it is more stressful to drive. But! As for the vehicles, everything is different here. The car is built so that all settings, oils, etc. are designed for the southern countries. For example, the operating temperature of shock absorbers is 70C. For the winter races we use special oils and heat the cars, but it is still not easy for them.

Every year the level of participants grows, but technical progress does not stand still either. Have you noticed the speed rise in the T1 category? Is the dynamics great and how to keep up with progress?

Indeed, it impossible to keep up with progress. It is very difficult for us, private teams, which are not supported by factories. The factory teams have more potential, people, specialists and financing. We are moving more slowly, trying to keep up with those who are one step ahead – all new improvements are implemented by factory teams. We have to be careful and watch out for new items. We are looking after them, but also in the team we are still trying to engage in scientific and technical developments and optimize processes, and we are looking for new solutions. We work actively with the suspension, and I think that our solutions even surpass the factory ones. We are engaged in the engine problem – we have a diesel engine, but modern gasoline ones are too fast and we cannot keep up with them.

Is it true that rally raid drivers do not know how to ride on wet surfaces? What to do on the snow and how to drive there?

On the snow cover we use ice nails! It is almost like on asphalt. But when the ice surface turns into snow mush, it becomes more difficult. Unfortunately, I have never won the “Northern Forest”. I am in for an adventure at every winter round – for the first time I found a stone and punctured two wheels on the snow surface in the forest! And I did the same at my second race! Drivers who can ride on such a cover – the Balts, the Finns – win this race more often.
I hope this year the fight will be especially interesting, and I invite everyone to the unique, beautiful, winter round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies that will be held in February in Karelia! See you at the race!

Source Baja Russia