Italian Riders Shine in FIM, UEM and FMI Italian Baja
The 20th edition of the always fascinating Italian Baja World Cup has now come to a close, and once again it was an event characterized by a rich mixture of nationalities and incredibly fierce competition. The race counted towards both the World and European championships, while also representing the single round of the Italian national championship.
As a result of the heavy rainfall during the days leading up to the race, the route of the special stage needed to be modified in order to avoid the high water in some areas. The stage was therefore split into two parts, connected by a short transfer stage on public roads. Despite this last minute adjustment, the riders all expressed praise for the course, which they found to be both fast and well marked.
Pulling out of the contest at the last minute was Alberto Basso, winner of the last three editions of the Italian Baja, due to an extremely high fever. This left the door wide open for a rookie to the FIM Bajas World Cup, Alessandro Ruoso (Yamaha), who recently made the transition from motocross racing. The Italian rider did an excellent job to hold off the more experienced and highly favored Stephane Peterhansel as he rode to victory. Despite competing in his very first Baja, Ruoso immediately went fastest in Friday’s opening prologue stage, followed by similar results in the second and third special stages, on his way to a surprising win in the overall and 450cc categories, thanks to a total time of 3:33'15. Peterhansel eventually came in just 1'07 behind, and when asked if he preferred racing the Baja in a car or on a bike (5 of his 11 Dakar wins were in cars), he said that with the cold temperatures encountered over the weekend he probably would have been more comfortable in a car, but that he enjoyed himself nonetheless. Alessandro Botturi took home the final spot on the overall podium, finishing 4’55’’ behind the leader, and the same three riders made up the 450cc category podium as well.
Alex Zanotti (TM), fourth overall, took the win in the Over 450cc class, despite suffering a crash during Saturday’s special, after which he had to complete the stage with a bent handlebar. Rounding out the top five was Mauro Sant, followed in turn by the impressive female German rider Andrea Mayer. Taking second place in the Women’s category was Frenchwoman Stephanie Sanchez, riding a KTM quad.
In the UEM European Championship, the win went to experienced Polish quad rider Lukasz Laskawiec (Yamaha) with a time of 3’53’’35. He was followed some 4'48 behind by Italian rider Simone Toro, who returned to racing after a forced absence last year, and who was forced to finish the race without the use of 5th gear, which we broke during Saturday’s running. Portuguese rider Pedro Bianchi Prata, also riding in his first ever Baja, took home the third spot on the UEM podium, 8'52 behind the winner.
Also worth noting in the UEM standings were two Side by Side drivers, including Italian Graziano Scandola (Can Am), who was experimenting for the first time in a UTV and said he found the Italian Baja easier to tackle this time compared to his previous efforts on a quad.
The Italian Baja Championship, contested in just this single round, was naturally won by the extremely fast Alessandro Ruoso. Sixth overall among the Italian Championship contenders, and first of the quad riders, was Simone Toro. The Italian national series was actually split into 4 categories: among the Automatic Quads, the podium was occupied by the three Can Am riders, with Argnani and Montalbini on equal points, and Giuliano Gullo third; in the Geared Quad category, the top three consisted of Toro, Giammarco Fossà (Suzuki) and Christian D'Agnolo; the Moto M1 (450cc) class podium was made up of Ruoso, Botturi and Cominotto; and finally the M2 (Over 450cc) category was won by Zanotti, with Claudio Mana (Aprilia) in second place. The return of Nicola Dutto, acting as the recognizance rider on a KTM, was a great success: Nicola was once again able to dominate the Tagliamento gravel on his specially prepared bike, with all of the controls mounted so they would be accessible to his upper limbs. He managed to reach some truly impressive top speeds and handled some very difficult terrain like the great rider and professional he has always been.
Press Release N. 19/2013
Author: Alessandra Manieri
Translator: Sean Sedacca
FMI Quad Press Officer