The Simbirsk Track Baja became the fourth and final stage of the season 2019 of the Russian Rally Raid Championship. From the very beginning of the championship, the GAZ Raid Sport team confidently led in the competition. At the end of the season, the crew of Alexey Ignatov and Evgeny Pavlov driving a GAZelle Next holds the first place in the Raid class of the Russian Championship, the crew of Yevgeny Sukhovenko and Kirill Chapaev holds the second place, and Alexey Khlebov driving a GAZ-3308 Sadko truck became the silver medalist in the truck standings.
The "Russia - Northern Forest" Baja opened the season. The best Russian rally drivers competed with the most formidable pilots of the world: the Russian championship was held in Karelia in early February at the same time with a stage of the World Cup for Cross Country Rallies. The GAZ Raid Sport corporate team presented two GAZelle Next vehicles and two Sadko Next off-road trucks. The race took place along a thawed out track, where deep Karelian snows were saturated with water and resembled cement slurry. In these conditions the crews of Aleksey Ignatov and Evgeny Sukhovenko passed the entire track perfectly, finished in the first place and even managed to help out other fellow pilots who got caught in a snow trap.
In late April the rallyists found themselves in Astrakhan sands, famous for their giant dunes. That was there where the II stage of the championship - the Kagan Gold race - took place. The Astrakhan route posed a completely different challenge to the vehicle. The endless desert required using the vehicles’ off-road capabilities to the utmost in loose sands and high dunes. On this track a slightest mistake of the pilot led to an accident. It was in Astrakhan where the pilots Mikhail Shklyaev, Boleslav Levitsky and Alexey Khlebov were able to fully demonstrate the high off-road capability of the Sadko Next. These GAZ trucks based on production vehicles that were launched by Gorky Automobile Plant earlier this year passed the entire track without breakdowns and competed on par with vehicles that are specially designed for races and have engines with several times more horsepower.
The third stage of the Russian Championship - the “Rostov” Baja - proved to be as challenging as the previous two. Heat turns the black soil of the Don steppes into thick dust, and after rain dirt roads become impassable mud. Two GAZelle Next vehicles equipped with the powerful and high-torque Cummins ISF 2.8 diesel engine demonstrated excellent performance. The crew of Alexey Ignatov and Yevgeny Pavlov won gold in the Raid class for the third time in a year and secured the Champion title before the end of the Championship.
The final stage of the Championship also brought many surprises. The "Simbirsk Tract" Baja that took place in Ulyanovsk region sometimes resembled marathon swimming. Vehicles were racing through rain and fog along flooded roads and sometimes even went hydroplaning. Harsh conditions did not prevent the pilots from demonstrating all the advantages of their vehicles and securing not only the victory in the race, but also the first place in the Championship based on the results of the whole season.