Monday, June 24, 2024

Jonathan Finn survives dusty Baja Aragon

Before it began, Jonathan Finn called the Baja España Aragón “an important race to collect points because there’s also a lot of top guys that have come down for this race, the points are going to be diluted here so it’s going to be important to not make any mistakes and just to stay on track here.”

Unfortunately, he had a rather difficult time following his own memo.

Entering his Baja Aragón début ranked second in the FIM Bajas World Cup, Finn had a rather brutal go in the Spanish countryside as he battled through clouds of dust kicked up by those who started ahead of him, which he called “almost like a whiteout when it snows really, really hard and you just couldn’t see anything.” After finishing thirty-first overall in the Prologue stage, he was forty-second, seventy-third, and forty-eighth across the three main legs.

He was classified twenty-third among all bikes and over two hours back of Kevin Giroud, the only other competitor in the Junior Trophy class but a quad rider, with a total time of 9:59:56. The Junior Trophy is reserved for riders under the age of twenty-five, and the 20-year-old Finn was the points leader in the division entering Aragón with runner-up finishes in the first three rounds; the Baja TT Dehesa Extremadura, also held in Spain in April, saw Giroud and Finn place in the same positions.

The final leg on Saturday was especially brutal for Finn as he crashed multiple times. Despite his Honda CRF450 suffering substantial damage and hurting his hand, he was able to reach the finish.

“I can’t exactly say it was the weekend I wanted,” he told Cross-Country Rally News. “If you look at my bike, it’s kind of destroyed; my hand’s all messed up even more. I rode probably, shit, I don’t know.

“This happened at kilometre 40,” he continued, pointing to damage to the bike’s navigation tower. “The first crash that I had was at kilometre three and then I crashed again at the water and then I basically rode the whole stage just with one hand, no clutch. To say the least, it wasn’t my weekend but I made it to the finish so I’m getting the points and hopefully I can heal up before Hungary.”

While it was his first time racing the Baja Aragón, he was no stranger to the area, having previously competed on pavement at the MotorLand Aragón. He began his career in Grand Prix motorcycle racing, first winning national championships in his native Canada before moving to Spain to compete in the RFME Pre-Moto3 division; Finn began rally racing in 2022.

“Transitioning from road racing to rally has been a challenge but overall a great experience for me,” Finn added before the race. “With my background, I am comfortable going fast so the speeds I am achieving during the rally stages I am happy with, but my main goal this year is just ride and continue development of all the skills needed to be consistently competitive.”

The Hungarian Baja, the next round of the World Cup, will take place on 10–12 August.