Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Leeroy Poulter and navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz, recorded the fourth-fastest time in today’s prologue of the Baja Aragon in Spain. This race is round seven of the FIA’s Cross Country World Cup, and is contested over three days, with the event concluding on Sunday, 23 July. Today’s prologue was won by Nani Roma (Toyota Hilux), with two more Toyota crews rounding out the podium.
“We were very pleased with the result today,” said Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall, after watching Poulter/Von Zitzewitz complete the 9.3 km-long prologue. “Nani won the prologue, with Nasser Al Attiyah, also in a Toyota Hilux, in second place. João Ramos, in another Toyota Hilux, completed the Top 3. Leeroy and Dirk had a solid start, but after the draw for road positions, they’ll be starting in eighth place.”
Today’s prologue was a short, sharp affair, serving mainly to set the starting order for the opening stage of the Baja Aragon. Even so, road position is always important, and dust may well be a deciding factor in the race. The Top 10 finishers from the prologue took part in a draw for starting positions, with Al Attiyah drawing first on the road. Poulter/Von Zitzewitz initially drew 5th position, but subsequent crews pushed them down the order into 8th.
“It certainly isn’t ideal,” said Hall after the draw. “The dust could be a major factor, as could slower crews ahead of us. But it is what it is, and Leeroy and Dirk are certainly equal to the task at hand.”
“We had a clean run today,” said Poulter from the Spanish town of Teruel after the prologue. “The distance was so short that only 15 seconds separated the Top 5. Even so, we’re looking forward to starting the race in eighth place, as we didn’t really want to open the road tomorrow.”
Tellingly, four Toyotas set the pace on today’s stage, with the first of the MINIs, in the hands of WRC star Miko Hirvonen, finishing less than a second behind Poulter/Von Zitzewitz. Orlando Terranova, in another MINI, was next-fastest.
The Baja Aragon comprises four stages, with the first now behind the crews. Two more stages follow on Saturday, with a closing stage on Sunday. The Baja forms part of the FIA’s Cross Country World Cup, which Toyota Hilux driver Nasser Al Attiyah currently leads.