Nani Roma and his navigator Alex Haro repeated the success they had celebrated in 2014, with Argentinean pairing Orlando Terranova and Bernardo Ronnie Graue finishing runner-up. At the same time, Mikko Hirvonen made a successful off-road rallying debut. Together with his French co-driver Michel Périn, he took his Mini All4 Racing to the really fine third place.
The event around the Spanish city of Teruel was short but represented a true challenge, nevertheless as the organizers picked extremely winding and rocky roads. This did not only result in a low average speed of about 70 kilometers per hour but also made for several damaged tires.
This added to the pressure for the drivers involved as only 10 tires per car are allowed in Baja. They had to race fully focused and find a good compromise between being fast and careful. Furthermore, the numerous tight corners took the brakes to their limit.
On Saturday, Roma was the first to start into the two special stages. “Being the first to start into a special stage is anything but easy, here,” said the 2014 Dakar winner. “The grass partially is very long and you can’t see the stones and rocks.” Nonetheless, he won the first special stage and finished runner-up in the second. With these result he gained a lead big enough to allow him to opt for a tactical approach for the third and last special stage – a stage he once again had to take the pathfinder position in. “I slightly held off in the opening stages to go easy on my tires. And this strategy paid off. In this race it wasn’t only about going as fast as possible but you also had to make good decisions regarding where you should really push and where you’d better back off. I knew the second special stage from last year and was aware that you quickly can suffer a puncture, here. The Mini once again delivered in great style and I’m really delighted with having won the event,” he added.
Behind the winner, Hirvonen and Terranova entertained the crowds with a fierce battle for second position. Prior to the final special stage, the Finn held a lead of about a minute over his Argentinean teammate. They both had to stop once for a tire change. In the end, Terranova was slightly faster and secured second place, with Hirvonen finishing 23 seconds behind him in third. “It was big fun although I expected a slightly better result,” revealed Terranova. “But we didn’t contest the event without making mistakes and had to cope with three damaged tires. The pressure was extremely high, this year, and this resulted in higher speed. Compared to last year we were faster as a team.”
Meanwhile, Hirvonen also was happy with having finished third. “It goes without saying that I would have loved to come second but it’s great that we made it to the podium. It was tough for me, with the long special stages and without my pace notes. And I was really surprised that you have to push that hard,” he added.