Baja TT Wine Capital of Portugal 2019: Kamena Team at the Portuguese cross-country WRC

Baja TT Wine Capital of Portugal 2019: Kamena Team at the Portuguese cross-country WRC

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Kamena Rally Team took part in the rally Baja TT Capital dos Vinhos de Portugal, counting for the Portuguese Championship. The goal of Tomasz Białkowski and Dariusz Baśkiewicz for this rally was not only racing, but, above all, changing the climate and training for October’s Baja Portalegre 500. But they also didn’t lack racing, and it was cross-country racing in WRC style.

Last year, Kamena Rally Team took part in a Portuguese rally for the first time – it was Autumn’s Baja Portalegre 500. The competitors liked those tracks, landscapes, and numerous rivals very much, so they decided to come back. Since the beginning of this year, Baja Portalegre 500 has had its place in the racing calendar of Tomasz Białkowski and Dariusz Baśkiewicz, but in this very busy schedule of their starts they also found a space for another Portuguese rally – Baja TT Capital dos Vinhos de Portugal, taking place on 24th-26th May. Their goal for this rally was, above all, having fun, training and change of climate, also the rally climate, which in the South of Europe is completely different from that in the central part of the continent. Portuguese climate right from the beginning took its toll on competitors, because the recce on foot of the 7 km prologue in 30 degrees heat was quite a challenge. Later, it was CanAm Maverick X3 of Tomasz Białkowski and Dariusz Baśkiewicz that was taking a beating, although the guys tried hard to save it, thinking about next rallies. 

In the prologue, Kamena Rally Team crew wanted to fight for the best possible starting position for the next 150 km special. But this was not an easy task, since Tomasz Białkowski and Dariusz Baśkiewicz had to cope with a surface completely new to them, style of driving completely new to them, and, above all, with the army of Portuguese competitors, armed to the teeth. They finished 29th among 70 crews lining up for the start, so in the planned first half of the stake. In SS1, the pace of Kamena Rally Team was already faster, although they had problems.

“I had a great feeling with driving! Here the tracks are flat and very fast, in some places we drove 150 km/h! It’s such cross-country racing in WRC style, you literally drift. I like this style of driving very much, so I had a lot of fun with driving. We had a really good pace. At 80 km we got flat tire, what was to be predicted, but we had trained it, so we coped with the change immediately. Unfortunately, later suspension arm broke, what slowed us significantly, because the vehicle was swinging. We managed to fix it at refueling, and thanks to it we managed to reach the finish. Next day we had 80 km special to go. We drove more reasonably, so we avoided adventures, and, above all, we had fun. For sure we’ll come back here!” Tomasz Białkowski says.

Kamena Rally Team crew finished in a good 18th place. Many local drivers didn’t have so much luck, because only 58 crews out of 70 reached the finish of the rally. 

“On stages we passed vehicles laying on their sides or after rolls, and even one hanging on power line! It’s all because Portuguese drive very aggressively, and the routes are prepared for fast driving, like WRC. They’re narrow, often leading through ranchos and private, closed vineyards, by the lakes – landscapes are beautiful, but you can’t enjoy them, because tracks are flat, and you drive really fast. Portuguese prepare their vehicles for this kind of routes and this style of driving, so their SSVs are lowered, with hard suspension and huge power, it’s a completely different technology. Even though, we were able to fight with local drivers. We were the only foreign crew, so they were surprised a bit with our appearance, but they hosted us fantastically! Organizers also took great care of us, they were helping us throughout the whole rally. But what’s the best here, are the numerous fans on the route, and at the finish line dozens of them were waiting with open bottles of beer to offer them to competitors finishing the rally,” Dariusz Baśkiewicz reports.

Kamena Rally Team made a bit of a mess at Baja TT Capital dos Vinhos de Portugal, because Portuguese were surprised by such a good pace of the foreign crew. Though, they were very friendly and helpful to them. During Saturday’s 3,5h service the crew’s mechanics from PrzemPol took the vehicle to pieces almost to the last bolt, thanks to what they were able to eliminate problems that were invisible at the first glance, like broken hub or burnt brake blocks. Also, Portuguese team JB Racing, who literally had a workshop and a store with parts in the service park, gave them a hand. That all plus great and reasonable driving enabled Tomasz Białkowski and Dariusz Baśkiewicz to score a very good result and prevented the vehicle from total destruction after this WRC-like cross-country racing, so that it’s ready for the next event. The next rally for Kamena Rally Team was supposed to be Skuba Cross-Country Rally Gyula in Hungary, where the crew was to fight for further points in CEZ Championship, which they are leading, but the event was cancelled. Due to the cancelation of the Hungarian rally, Tomasz Białkowski and Dariusz Baśkiewicz will be able to take part in Geotermia Lądek-Zdrój Cross-Country Rally in Poland, where they will fight for points in Polish Championship. 

Source: Press release of Kamena Team
Translation: Anna Michalska
Photos: Rally-Raid Network
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