Baja Szczecinek 2020: “Little Dakar Rally” on Polish tracks

Baja Szczecinek 2020: “Little Dakar Rally” on Polish tracks

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Entry lists for this year’s Baja Szczecinek count 101 crews! But not only the number of competitors is impressive, the line-up of the rally is also great in terms of quality. There are 16 names on the entry lists which are known from Dakar Rally. Among them there is also a winner of the Dakar!

High number of entries for Baja Szczecinek could have been expected, because it’s a rally which “unfreezes” cross-country rallies in Poland and in Europe as well. But the number of 101 entries exceeded expectations: “If a few weeks ago somebody told me there would be over a hundred competitors in the rally, I wouldn’t believe. It’s a hard time for all of us, for whole rally community. It seems that competitors really miss racing. We knew that interest in the rally was big, but we didn’t think that lists would be so filled-up and that there would be so many great names on them. We’re extremely happy that we can host them all at the rally,” says Andrzej Derengowski, the organizer of Baja Szczecinek. The organization of the rally this year was completely different in every aspect, and competitors paid back for those organizational difficulties with their appearance on entry lists, and these are really impressive. Among competitors whom we’ll see at the rally, there are as many as 16 Dakar Rally participants – drivers, co-drivers, bikers and quad riders.

Entry lists are opened by the only Polish driver with Dakar Rally priority status, Kuba Przygonski, who just missed out on the Dakar podium last year. It will be his second rally, after February’s Manateq Qatar Cross-Country Rally, behind the wheel of a Toyota Hilux Overdrive. He will be partnered by German co-driver Timo Gottschalk, who was winner of the 2011 edition of the Dakar (with Nasser Al-Attiyah): “So first I would say for sure I’m looking forward to coming back to business, back to rallies. It was a long time without anything so I’m really happy to be back in a rally car and for sure this event is good to get back in the rhythm before Baja Poland. I’m looking forward to this event, not too far from my home, just 300 km, I can go by my own car. And I know they have very nice events in Poland so it will be interesting to see this new kind of terrain and new event and for sure it will not be easy, as it is our first time, while some people know the area more or less, but we’ll do our best and for sure we’ll fight as always and see what is possible,” says Timo Gottschalk. 

Next on entry list there is another Dakar crew, Miroslav Zapletal and Marek Sykora. This duo are the reigning Polish Champions, who sealed their last year’s title exactly at Baja Szczecinek, so they will be the main rivals for ORLEN Team’s crew Przygonski / Gottschalk. The Czech-Slovak crew will start in Szczecinek with a Hummer H3. A MINI John Cooper Works Rally will be driven by Michal and Julita Maluszynski. A Ford 150 EVO was entered for the rally by Pawel Molgo, who will be accompanied by a top Dakar co-driver, Maciej Marton. Another Dakar participant, who will appear in Szczecinek, is Tomas Ourednicek, driving a Ford Ranger in David Kripal’s company. Another co-driver having a Dakar participation under his belt is Pavel Vaculik, who will be Zdenek Porizek’s co-driver at Baja Szczecinek. The Czech crew will drive a Ford F150. 

One of the most experienced Polish Dakar co-drivers, Rafal Marton will appear in Szczecinek in a new role – he will navigate Patrycja Brochocka aboard a T2 Toyota Land Cruiser. Brochocka, a former Dacia Duster driver, will again fight against a bunch Dacia crews. It’s worth underlining that at Baja Szczecinek, Dacia crews will make their debut in Polish Championship, fighting for laurels both in T2 group and in Dacia Duster Motrio Cup. 8 crews entered for this rivalry. There’s a very interesting duo among them – one of Dacias will be driven by famous TV presenter and former Miss Polonia, Marcelina Zawadzka, who participated in Africa Eco Race in January. Also, her co-driver is an interesting person – Pascal Brodnicki is a well-known cook and winner of last year’s Dacia Duster Cup. Altogether, there are 46 crews on the entry list for Polish Championship, Central European Zone Championship (FIA-CEZ), Czech Championship and Hungarian Championship – 10 in T1 group, 12 in T2, 17 in T4Nat (SSV), 6 in TH and one in Open. Another 11 crews will participate in Baja Szczecinek, fighting in Polish Cross-Country Rally Cup. Their list is opened by Tomasz Golka and Filip Golka, last year’s winners of the Polish Cup in S1 group. 4 crews – 3 in SSVs and one in a car – entered for TIS (the category for non-licensed participants).

The entry list of bikes and quads, competing in Polish Bajas Championship and Polish Bajas Cup, is also very interesting and there are also names known from the tracks of Dakar Rally. This list – similarly to cars entries – is opened by an ORLEN Team competitor, Maciej Giemza, who will stick number 1 on his bike. He will also appear on the tracks of this rally for the first time: “I’m really looking forward to start in Baja Szczecinek. Since Dakar Rally I’ve got extremely hungry of riding, all competitions planned for the first half of year were cancelled, so I couldn’t race, so when I saw that Baja Szczecinek runs, I immediately sent my entry. I’ve never raced there, so I’m double mobilized”, says Maciej Giemza. Mobilization for sure will be useful to him, as other Dakar Rally bikers – Polish Krzysztof Jarmuz, Czech Rudolf Lhotsky and Hungarian Lajos Horvath - will race against him. Among bikers entered for Baja Szczecinek, there is also one lady, Joanna Modrzewska, who has a 3rd place in last year’s European Women’s Championship under her belt. On tracks of the rally we’ll also see a triumphant of Polish Cup 2019, Tomasz Dabrowski, who will this year fight for Polish Champion’s title. Altogether, 17 bikers will participate in the rally. 

In previous seasons, Q2 (2WD quads) group wasn’t much popular, but in Szczecinek as many as 9 competitors will represent this group. Additionally, this group will have a very strong line-up, with the entry list opened by a Dakar competitor of ORLEN Team, Kamil Wisniewski. One of his main rivals will be Czech Dakar Rally rider Tomas Kubiena, as well as Polish Dakar 2020 participant, Pawel Otwinowski. In this stake, there’s also one female rider, Kristyna Vankova, who will make her debut on Polish tracks. Group Q4 (4x4 quads) also has a very strong line-up. 14 competitors will fight in this group, and there’s also Dakar Rally name among them – Arkadiusz Lindner. His rival, among others, will be Marcin Talaga, European Vice-Champion and winner of Polish Cup 2019, as well as 3 other former Polish Cup winners: Remigiusz Kusy, Andrzej Pieron and Piotr Ceklarz.

Baja Szczecinek will start on Friday, 24th July, with a 5 km long Qualifying Stage. Next, all competitors will go to the 42 km long SS “Okonek”, which they’ll run twice. On Saturday, 25th July, rally cavalcade will move to the military area in Czarne, where they’ll tackle a 61 km long special stage two times. Winners of the rally will be known by Saturday late afternoon.

Source: Baja Szczecinek press release

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