Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Leeroy Poulter and navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz, will be competing in the Baja Aragon, which takes place in southeastern Spain from July 21-23. The event will be Round 7 of the FIA’s Cross Country World Cup, which Toyota Hilux driver Nasser Al Attiyah currently leads.
Brian Joss – “We are very excited about the race in Spain,” said Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall, before departing from the team’s HQ near the Kyalami race circuit in Midrand. “The terrain in the area is very rough, which will allow us to continue the development and suspension setup of our Toyota Hilux. At the same time, is gives Leeroy and Dirk the opportunity to compete at a very high level.”
The pair raced together earlier this year, when they finished third on the Qatar Cross Country Rally in April. This, after running in second place, behind eventual race winner Al Attiyah and navigator Mathieu Baumel for most of the race. A small mistake near the end of the final stage cost them second place, but they proved that they are quick enough to take the fight to anyone in the field.
The Baja Aragon, which takes place to the east of the Spanish capital Madrid, is a shorter, sharper event than the Qatar Cross Country Rally, but even so it has attracted more than 230 entries across all classes. This includes defending champions Al Attiyah/Baumel (Toyota Hilux), as well as Nani Roma and navigator Alex Haro (Toyota Hilux).
Al Attiyah and Roma are entered as part of Belgian outfit Overdrive Racing, who will also be fielding Poland’s Aron Domzala and navigator Maciej Marton in another SA-built Toyota Hilux. Roma has won this even five times in the past, and is a strong candidate for victory on Sunday, 23 July.
For Poulter/Von Zitzewitz, Baja Aragon is another opportunity to gain global experience beyond Dakar, and to log additional seat time in preparation for Dakar 2018. However, their strong showing together earlier in 2017 shows clear intent on their part, and if all goes to plan, they may just find themselves fighting for the podium this weekend.
The race gets underway with technical checks today (Thursday, 20 July), with the first competitive stage taking place in Friday evening, 21 July.
The meat of the event comes on Saturday and Sunday, with two stages taking place on Saturday, and one more on Sunday. The race starts and ends in the town of Teruel, in the heart of Spain’s Aragon province.