· Lukaszewski and Duhanik-Persson triumph with off-road SPORT Ford Ranger
PORTALEGRE (PORTUGAL): South Racing topped a glorious few days on opposite sides of the world by claiming the Polish Cross-Country Championship (RMPST) and the FIA Central European Zone Cross-Country Championship (FIA-CEZ) titles to add to the 2017 South American CODASUR Cross-Country championship that Rodrigo Gutiérrez claimed in Bolivia on Sunday.
The Polish crew of Marcin Lukaszewski and Magdalena Duhanik-Persson have been tackling the seven-round Polish series with an off-road SPORT Ford Ranger run in conjunction with South Racing and they confirmed the title at last weekend’s Szprotawa-based Baja Inter Cars, the final round of the series. Four of the seven Polish events also counted towards the FIA Central European Zone Cross-Country Championship that Lukaszewski also secured at the weekend.
The Polish series got underway back in early April with the Columna Medica Baja Drawkso Pomorskie before heading to Baja Carpathia at Stalowa Wola in May. Michael and Julita Maluszyńscy started the season in winning ways in Drawsko Pomorskie, but Lukaszewski snatched victory in the second round from the Czech driver Zdenĕk Pořízek by the margin of 6min 40sec.
Teams headed to the Polish capital of Warsaw for round three – NAC 38 Rajd Warszawskie Safari – in June and the capital also hosted Rajd Polskie Safari in July. Pawel Molgo and Rafal Marton topped the standings on round three, pipping the second-placed Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal and Pořízek in third.
The sixth round of the Central European Zone series was held in conjunction with round nine of the FIA World Cup and the fifth event in the RMPST series at ORLEN Baja Poland in Szczecin at the end of August. Lukaszewski and Duhanik-Persson claimed a vital win in the RMPST category on Poland’s premier off-road round and reached the podium 21min 59sec ahead of Zapletal.
The town of Szczecinek hosted round six and the season concluded with Baja Inter Cars last weekend. Rain affected the sixth round on fast, sandy stages and several very muddy areas.
Baja Szczecinek developed into a fascinating tussle between Lukaszewski and Zapletal and, when the Czech suffered a broken drive shaft, the Pole was able to ease his pace to snatch the championship lead in his off-road SPORT car.
A stunning victory in Szprotawa last Sunday at Baja Inter Cars was sufficient for the Ford Ranger driver to confirm the two European titles, after he finished 21min 58sec in front of Zapletal to confirm maximum points in both the RMPST and Central European Zone sections. A third victory in Hungary’s Bugac-based first round of the latter series, the Duna Aszfalt Cup, had also bolstered his challenge earlier in the season.
“It has been a year of hard work and it’s paid off with great results and continued to show the potential of the Ford Ranger,” said South Racing’s managing director Scott Abraham. “It was great driving by Marcin and co-driving by Magdalena, as well as great support from the off-road SPORT team, who made us feel at home whenever we raced with them.
“It is as much a victory for the team as it is for the crew. Now our focus moves to Portalegre this weekend where we have the chance to win both the Portuguese and Iberian titles. We will do everything to make this happen.”
The Central European Zone offers competitions in various motor sporting disciplines in 14 countries, including Poland, Italy, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and points are allocated for the various titles from a maximum of 14 events in individual sporting disciplines.
Drivers of cars in the T1, T2 and T3 categories were eligible to score points, in addition to a TH class for cars with two or four-wheel drive and closed bodywork that complied with national cross-country regulations.