Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Ukrainian WIA to be navigator at Rally TT Cuenca

The inclusivity committee of Spain’s automobile federation Real Federación Española de Automovilismo has extended an invitation to the Automobile Federation of Ukraine to bring a Ukrainian soldier wounded in action to the Rally TT Cuenca on 20/21 October and have them become a cross-country rally co-driver. The veteran and their driver will compete in the non-competition ParaBaja class, part of ParaBaja Step by Step to provide racing opportunities for people with reduced mobility.

ParaBaja Step by Step is scheduled to appear at six of the seven rounds on the Spanish Cross-Country Rally Championship, with the Rally TT Cuenca being the season finale. Participants are not classified alongside the CERTT or FIA Cross-Country Bajas competitors and are instead part of their own category. Due to the nature of the programme, it is not a racing-based class and finishers are celebrated regardless of performance.

Founded in 2014 to run the Baja España Aragón, it was nominated for the FIA President’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Award in 2022. The Baja Aragón in July, the latest CERTT race, had eleven ParaBaja teams for twenty-one individual racers: sixteen were in the eight cars while five comprised the trio of bike and quad entries.

“Participating in motorsport can be an effective way for people injured in war to find their way to recovery and return to a fulfilling life,” reads a statement from the FAU. “The presence of a Ukrainian soldier at the CERTT Championship will undoubtedly inspire others who face similar challenges. This will serve as a testimony to the indomitable spirit of people who are determined to overcome difficulties and fulfill their desires.”

It is estimated that over 130 thousand Ukrainian troops have been wounded in the year and a half since Russia began its full-scale invasion of the country. Among cross-country rally drivers who have taken up arms in defence are Viacheslav Ponomarenko, who received the Hero of Ukraine for his service, and Master of Sport Igor Kalinovskaya, who passed away last week after serving since the war began in 2014.