• Finnish crew Tapio Lauronen/Toni Tapio Lauronen wins baja “Russia – Northern Forest 2019”
  • Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov win the first round of the Russian National Cross-Country Championship

The world’s only snow and ice baja “Russia – Northern Forest 2019” took place in Karelia from 15 to 17 February; it was the 1st round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas and the 1st round of the Russian Cross-country Championship. 44 participants from 15 countries went to the start, 37 crews finished.

The frequent participants from Finland – Tapio Lauronen / Toni Tapio Lauronen with Mitsubishi Pajero became the FIA World Cup round winners. The Russian crew Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov became silver medall winners in the World Series standings and the winners of the 1st round of the Russian Cross-country Championship.

Baja Russia Northern Forest 2019 Vasilyev Day 3

On the third day of the competition there was a real fight for the first place between Russian and Finnish crews; two international crews – the Lithuanian-Polish and the Czech-Slovak – fought for the third position.

At the fourth special stage Czech Miroslav Zapletal lost control of the car on a slippery road, went off the track and was no longer able to get out of a snowdrift. Thus the struggle for the third place ended in favour of the Baja debutant, the Lithuanian Benediktas Vanagas.

At the same special stage Vladimir Vasilyev got back on Lauronen a little, and after a small re-grouping everyone was preparing for the decisive battle for victory.

After the day regrouping the crews had to drive 103 km along challenging Karelian roads. The first to leave was the Finnish crew, followed by Vladimir Vasilyev with Konstantin Zhiltsov two minutes later. At the fourteenth kilometer of the special stage the headquarters received a signal from the track about the stop of several crews. After the first two crews had passed, a tree fell due to strong wind blocking the road for the following crews. The special stage was cancelled. After the tree was cut and the passage was free, all the crews proceded directly to the finish podium.

37 crews crossed the final podium in the village of Vyartsilya.

Northern Forest 2019 Day 3 Winners 37

Tapio Lauronen (Finland), race winner, driver

The roads are the same as a year ago, but now they are a not as wide as they used to be. And there were some difficulties. But I like the race, and I'm glad to win it.

Vladimir Vasilyev (Russia), driver, the first round of the Russian Rally Raid Championship winner

It was a perfect race with gorgeous roads. Although this year they have been narrowly cleaned, we still got great pleasure from driving. Everyone really likes the race. Even Sergey Uspensky, who said that everything was wrong for him after the first special stage, speeded up on the second day, went into a snowdrift, but was pleased. We can say, he “caught” pleasure.

And no fallen trees will spoil our mood. We had some technical problems. But today, nothing and no one have bothered us. All the rest stopped at the fifth special stage, as if they were saying, "Let those two fight."

The winter race is the only baja of its kind, there is nothing like this in the international cross-country. We hope that the race will develop. Next year, I would like to organize the race in two regions at once. Most likely we will leave the route here, but we will move the Prologue and the Ceremonial opening closer to St. Petersburg.

Benediktas Vanagas (Lithuania), driver, 3rd place

I came to this race for the first time. I usually participate in the classic rally and I’ve done it in many places. Now in Sweden the FIA World Rally Championship round is taking place, and I’m sure that many would envy your roads. You have to be very courageous to drive fast. It was interesting and technical. I think, next year I will come here again.

I’m not local and don’t know what the winds are here. At the fifth special stage we overcame one tree, than another. But it was the third tree for 14 km! I didn't have a sword, a chainsaw, or even a knife. And we had to stop, we couldn’t overcome this obstacle. It is a pity that Miroslav Zapletal retired at the fourth special stage. We had an interesting fight. He apparently couldn’t stand the nerves. We’ve made mistakes a couple of times today, but were lucky not to get stuck in the snow.

“Russia – Northern Forest” Baja opened the 2019 sports season. The second round of the 2019 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas will be held in Dubai from 7 to 9 March 2019. The Russian Championship participants will meet next time in Astrakhan, where the “Kagan Gold” rally will take place from 24 to 27 April.


“Russia – Northern Forest” Baja official results (the 1st round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas)

  1. Tapio Lauronen (FIN) / Toni Tapio Lauronen (FIN) (Mitsubishi Pajero) 5:19:07
  2. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) / Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) (MINI One) 5:21:28
  3. Benediktas Vanagas (LT) / Bartolomiej Bobo (POL) (Toyota Hilux) 5:31:33

“Russia – Northern Forest” Baja official results (the 1st round of the Russian Rally Raid Championship)

  1. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) / Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) (MINI One) 5:21:28
  2. Andrey N. / Vladimir N. (G-Force BARS) 5:35:47
  3. Andrey Rudskoy / Evgeny Zagorodnuk (G-Force BARS ) 5:46:52


The traditional partners of Baja “Russia – Northern Forest 2019” are the companies “Nart”, Nart Time, “R-Industria”, “Rus”, “Igora Drive”, “Orekh”, “Bar Motor”.

This year the Technical Center “Vostok” with the brands “KAMAZ” and “Gas Diesel Systems” joined us. The connection is provided by Neokom and Megafon. Accommodation of guests and officials of the race is provided by “Astra” business travel agency, “Gardarika” country club and hotels “Chernye Kamni” and “Tochka na karte. Sortavala”. The Ceremonial opening of the race will be held with the Ruskeala mountain park support. The airport of Petrozavodsk acts as a technical partner, providing the “Sortavala” landing area (Helyulya settlement) for the organization of the Service Park.

The 5th year title sponsors are the Government of the Republic of Karelia, the Olympic Council of the Republic of Karelia, and the 100 Years of Karelia project. Informational support is provided by Ex-Road Media and 4x4 All-Wheel Drive magazine. 


Title partners
Игора Драйв

Official partners
KAMAZ NART logo blue Partners330 NartTime rus r industria Газодизельные системы Технический центр Восток Partners330 Orekh бар Мотор
 ASTRA business travel agency
Media Parthners
ExRoad Media
Technical Parthners
Международный аэропорт Петрозаводск