The roads in Baja Russia series are pretty fast. Well, there are some bumps too. And we drive the whole rally without recce, just according to the road book. It is a bit same than in Dakar. We only get instructions as waypoints. Luckily there are not that many alternatives. Especially on winter we tend to drive the same tyre marks than the fellow competitors.
My car is the old Dakar version from the early 2000. We have approximately 350 bhp and the car weighs couple of tons. Engine is 3,5-litres V6. The air intake restrictor cutting the power a bit.
I also have some bad memories from the series. In 2012 I broke my back in one rally near Volgograd. Back then we drove on steppes, underneath was just really soft sand. It was like I had driven on a beach.
At one place the dunes began and tyre marks went to couple of directions. My co-driver asked to steer little more left. Then I saw the clerk of the course on top of one dune. When I then looked straight again, I noticed that there was a bottom of an old road crossing the road we used horizontally. It was a metre below and we hit it at about 70kph. The nose of our hit it first and the rear followed.
I felt pain immediately. It was only my vertebrae that took the punishment and absorbed the impact. The helicopter that had followed us all the 40 kms from the start of the stage came down. Even if I knew that I should not, I climbed out of the car. But I could not stand at all. I was in agonizing pain and had to lean on my car.
Then they moved me to city of Astrahan in a huge chopper. That size was minimum of four rooms and kitchen. When we landed they still used a bloody old van to transfer me to the hospital. It was a really clean and modern hospital.
This time I will have a young Latvian co-driver. It is a just for fun trip, even though always when I wear a helmet I want to go fast. Enjoyment is my first target. I could compete against my countryman Jouni Ampuja but I try not to get involved in that sort of race.
After Monte Carlo we also had time to prepare Teemu Suninen for becoming Rally Sweden. We had a nice two-day test near Keuruu with my Fabia R5.
Good taste was left after the test. Shock absorbers we could not adjust perfectly but they are good enough. I also had a passenger ride with Teemu. He seems to have gathered more speed from the previous time. In addition to that his technical skills have improved also.
Altogether Teemu drove some 300 kilometres which is a good preparation for Rally Sweden. With that kind of performance Teemu surely is well-placed in Sweden too. It all looks great at the moment.
On the first day of the test, the car almost burned down. We had refueled the car and some minor amount of gasoline was still somewhere in a hidden place in the engine. From there it spilled on the turbo and flames were there. All the wiring was burned. It cost me 7000 Euros but luckily not the whole car.