G-Force Motorsport


Friday, 24 February 2012 00:20

Images of a a bright-orange Hummer chasing a pea-green Mini across the South American landscape are still fresh in our minds but now it’s time for the 2012 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.

March in Italy will see crews come together for the first round of a championship that will take them so some of the world’s toughest rally-raid events, which this year includes the UAE, Qatar, Tunisia, Morocco, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Egypt and Portugal.


But the first race of the year is not in the dust or sand, but the frozen landscape of Russia. The White Hills Russian Baja is a candidate event vying for full inclusion into the 2013 calendar and is the only truly winter event.

The race is organised by the Belgorod Off-Road Team. Based in a motorsport centre called Virage a 115km stage ploughed out through the rolling hills outside the city of Belgorod will be run 3 times making a 345km event, with short super-specials at the beginning and the end.
No foreigners have braved the infamous Russian winter. It might be a local event but the field is full of quality with ex-Russian champions and Dakar drivers.
The first Super-Special was a 3km long slither around a rally school training circuit which is part of the Virage motorsport complex. A few days ago it was -20 but today it’s a balmy -4, which for me is still damn cold, especially when the wind is blowing the snowstorm sideways with such a force that it stings my face.
by Robb PritchardLast year a new name popped up on timesheets as Vladimir Vasiliev drove some giant killing performances, leading the Pharaons Rally on his first sand-based event and winning a stage of the Silk Way Rally and he was first away in his monstrous 7 litre V8 G-Force Proto. His team mate is experienced driver Victor Volikov, stepping up from T2 to the top class and it was interesting to see how the two different driverstackled the stage. Vasiliev tore around attacking every corner and widening the course here and there as he slid into the snow banks and powered out of them sending the snow almost as high as the following helicopter while Voikov, co-driven by his son Anatoli, drove much more precisely,by Robb Pritchard sliding the car around between the banks instead of through them. I was standing next to team leader Boris Gadasin and over the wind he said, “Victor is faster,” and he was right. Victor beat Vladimir by 3 seconds. It was also a good opportunity to ask him what is new on the cars for 2012. “Well, we’ve developed the steering and have new dampers from Donnere to improve the handling as well as a redesigned engine bay that will make it easier for the mechanics to get to the engine.”
by Robb PritchardMost talked about car in the field is the Yoh-Crossover which will become Russia’s newest car when it starts production at the end of the year. Boris was also interested in it. “Alexandra Zhelunov is a strong driver and the car is well built. Also the National class which they are competing in is quite open so it will be interesting to see what they have made.” They made it around in a promising 5th place behind a well-driven Lada Niva.
Tomorrow the crews will twice tackle the 115km loop around the white hills of Belgorod and the weather will be much the same; snow and high winds.

Story and photos by Robb Pritchard