Rally truck rookie Marco Dono continues to impress, after finishing in fifth place on his very first cross country race, the recent Central Europe Rally, he has just steered his Iveco Trakker to an outclassing victory in the tough Baja Spain (above).

Rally truck rookie Marco Dono continues to impress and surprise. After finishing in fifth place in his very first cross country race, the Central Europe Rally, he has now steered his Iveco Trakker to an outclassing victory in the Baja Spain (17-20 July); a comprehensive win after setting fastest time on 6 of the 7 special stages, plus the 2 McRae Memorials. After 800km of timed special stages, the Motorsports Italia driver finished 24 minutes in front of Jo Adua (Renault). Third placed F. Inocencio (Mercedes) had a 49min disadvantage.

Marco Dono was very happy with the result: "The Central Europe Rally revealed some weak points on the suspension. During the last two months we reworked the vehicle entirely, improving the total weight, weight distribution and suspension linkages. We changed that much that we feared we may not get ready in time for the Baja. We had a tough race already before the race! Finally we could just make a short test drive before the Trakker had to be shipped. But this showed our setup was a lucky punch, so I started with a good feel of confidence. And this was no misjudgement – the vehicle has become a pleasure to drive!"

The 25th edition of the Baja Spain saw the competitors enjoying a classy mix of fast tracks on gravel and dusty soil, which were suddenly disrupted by rocky “Enduro style” passages. The car class was won by Nasser Al-Attiyah (BMW X3) "It has not turned out to be not easy at all," commented the BMW driver. "This one is a rapid race, in which it is easy to make mistakes. There were many good pilots. I have liked very much Spain for this beautiful tour and good organization. It is an area that looks like greatly the one where I train." Meanwhile the bike category was conquered by Marc Coma (KTM 660). "We had marked a special proff of the 25th anniversary and I am very satisfied with the result," said Coma. "The team has done a fantastic work. After overcoming Teruel I gained confidence. Stones, dust and a lot of heat. This edition has been fantastic. To be grateful for the organization not to have to pass the same place twice." Coma has dominated the Baja from the beginning and adds his second victory, after the first, achieved in 2004.

Baja Spain

The mystery of Dakar desert and Baja California left their mark within the sports men and adventurers who were willing to fulfil their spare time with challenging experiences. At the beginning of the eighties, when the mythic Paris-Dakar was already consolidated as one of the most important raids events, a French-Spanish group lead by François Vicent and Carlos Garcia, who was at that moment president of the Aragonesa - Riojana Automobile Federation, decided to import the idea of these two events to Spain. Searching for the best route possible, they found in Aragon a beautiful semi deserted area called Monegros, an unique place to enjoy, surrounded by amazing landscapes, which offered an ideal framework for the competition and with a perfect terrain for a 1.000 km non stop race. This was the beginning of the Baja Spain. At first it was called Montesblancos as the starting point was just beside the Montesblancos Casino. The big difficulties of the event, as the high temperatures and the dense dust, have been since the very first moment the most remarkable characteristics of a competition which has become a “classic” within the World Cup as well as one of the most appreciated in the International Calendar.

In the winners list of the competition are world class drivers who have provided the event with enormous prestigious: Ari Vatanen, Pierre Lartigue, Jacky Icks, Timo Salonen, Jean Louis Schlesser in the cars, or riders such as Bacou, Arcarons, Mas, Gallardo, Steuri, Roma, Esteve, Coma, among others, in bikes. Year 1999 set an historic precedent: for the first time, an Spanish driver, Jose Manuel Serviá, took the victory in cars with other two country men, Miguel Prieto and Manuel Plaza, completing the final podium. In the car’s list of winners, Jean Louis Schlesser is the most successful driver, with four victories to his tenure.

Regarding the manufacturers, Citroën stands in the first position, with six triumphs. Within the motorbikes, Isidre Esteve is the man who has accumulated more wins to his tally, five in total, all of them with KTM, the last one last year. The Austrian manufacturer has accumulated 15 triumphs in the BAJA so far, the last eight of them impressively clinched consecutively. In this category, the Spaniards have won in 15 occasions.

Combining dust, heat, and rocky and stony clay, this terrain brings out the best of man and machine in an impressive test of skill under the tricky conditions of a fierce environment. This has certainly been the real challenge of the Baja Spain, which has driven its spirit all along the 23 years of competition.

© 2008 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed