Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Krzysztof Holowczyc scores first Mini JCW Rally Plus win at Baja Poland

Mini has been one of the top rally raid makes since the early 2010s, and they can now add a victory in the top-flight T1+ subcategory as Krzysztof Hołowczyc and Michał Małuszyński dominated the Baja Poland to finish 1–2 for the Mini John Cooper Works Rally Plus.

Hołowczyc and Małuszyński, fellow Poles racing for X-raid Team, quickly set the tone by occupying the top two in the Prologue with the former leading by eight seconds. He then increased the gap on Małuszyński to eight minutes and forty-one seconds in Stage #1.

A perfect outing in the second leg completed the sweep for Hołowczyc with a total time of 4:11:59, 9:57 over Małusziński who fell to fourth in the final leg. Mshari Al Thefiri, a T3 driver, finished third by over twenty-two minutes while Włodzimierz Grajek, the next highest T1 driver in a Toyota Hilux, was fourth and 23:53 back of Hołowczyc.

The victory is Hołowczyc’s ninth at Baja Poland and third in a row. He is the most successful driver in the event’s history, which included winning every edition from 2010 to 2015 save for 2013.

“This rally is always difficult. Nevertheless, we managed to win all the stages,” said Hołowczyc. “The most important thing is that we were able to work a lot on the settings of the car here. We were able to change a few things to make the car more competitive. All this gives us a lot of knowledge and experience for the Dakar; that’s our main goal.”

He moves up to third in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, trailing Juan Cruz Yacopini by just three points. Championship leader Nasser Al-Attiyah is not running the rest of the season but has 148 points to Hołowczyc’s 75 with three rounds to go. Al-Attiyah and Yacopini did not race in Poland as they are in Argentina with the World Rally-Raid Championship. Hołowczyc is also competing in the European Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, albeit in a BMW X3 CC.

The Mini JCW Rally Plus is an upgraded version of X-raid’s usual Mini that débuted at the 2023 Dakar Rally with Sebastian Halpern and Jakub Przygonski; Halpern finished ninth in T1 while Przygonski was seventeenth. Halpern is running the full W2RC calendar including the ongoing Desafío Ruta 40, where he finished third in class on Monday; he is the only T1 entry not in a Hilux. W2RC T3 driver João Ferreira also pilots the JCW Rally Plus in Cross-Country Bajas competition.

Besides Bajas, Hołowczyc intends to run the JCW Plus at the W2RC season-ending Rallye du Maroc on 13–18 October. The Morocco round is typically used to prepare for the Dakar Rally, the 2024 edition beginning on 5 January. Hołowczyc raced at Dakar from 2005 to 2015, driving a Mini to a third in his last start.