Monday, May 27, 2024

Rokas Baciuska to make T1+ debut in Baja Aragon

Rokas Baciuška has dominated the World Rally-Raid Championship in the T4 category, but will trade in his side-by-side for a Toyota Hilux T1+ on 21/22 July when he makes his T1 début at the Baja España Aragón. His Hilux will be prepared by Overdrive Racing, while co-driver Oriol Vidal Montijano retains his post.

The Hilux is considered the top vehicle in rally raid today, having won the last two Dakar Rallies and the 2022 W2RC with Nasser Al-Attiyah, who currently leads the standings. Overdrive Racing’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi won the last two FIA World Cups for Cross-Country Bajas as well as the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

“Having time between other important starts and having received an unexpected but very attractive offer from the Overdrive Racing team, I will start in the most famous stage of the Spanish rally raid Baja Aragón,” said Baciuška. “Oriol Vidal, who has been successfully assisting in the buggy until now, will be my navigator. I will believe the fact myself, probably only next week, when I see a car ready. I am happy, impatient and at the same time excited to understand that I have a unique opportunity to tame T1+. When testing Toyota Hilux, I will not concentrate on the result, but I will try to feel the speed and finish successfully. I am grateful to everyone who appreciates my perspective.”

Baciuška won the T4 championship in 2022 as the only driver with podiums in all four rounds and a win at the Rallye du Maroc, holding off Marek Goczał by just six points. Ironically, his title defence began with a defeat at the hands of Goczał’s son Eryk at the Dakar Rally due to a broken driveshaft on the final stage. With the younger Goczał not pursuing the championship due to academics, Baciuška has been the stud of the class in the two races since, winning the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and Sonora Rally including every stage at the latter.

With two rounds to go, he has a 103-point edge over Goczał while Shinsuke Umeda, the next highest driver running the full season, is 110 points back.

The start comes as Baciuška looks towards graduating to higher classes in the future. While his current focus remains defending his T4 title, he has been eyeing a move up to T3 for the 2024 Dakar Rally. As such, his goal for the Baja Aragón is to gain as much experience as possible rather than going for the win.