A pre-start conference for media representatives accredited to the competition was held before the ceremonial opening and start of the Baja “Russia – Northern Forest” in the territory of the “Ruskeala” mountain park.
Alexander Voronov, Minister of Youth, Physical Culture and Sports of the Republic of Karelia, greeted the media representatives and participants, and presented the traditional prize of the Head of the Republic of Karelia that will be given to the fastest crew at the SSS Prologue – a bear figure made from shungite, a unique stone mined only in the Republic. He also wished the participants good luck, and the audience to enjoy a unique sporting spectacle!
Then the floor was taken by Victor Sokolov, the race Safety Director, who told about the changes of tracks and route that was 50% modified, thereby the competitive distance increased to 520 km. He also hoped the competing crews would like these diverse roads and reminded the camera crews about the order of work at the special stages and their closing schedule.
Nasser Al-Attiyah, a titled driver from Qatar, said that he has got a lot of positive feedback from participants of the Baja "Russia – Northern Forest" past editions and came to Karelia personally. He shared his impressions of Russian hospitality and his pleasure in driving the Prologue – the first snow-ice special stage. He also noted that in the winter cross-country rally it was possible to drive and have fun without thinking about the right trajectories or listening to the transcript read by the co-driver, as it happened on the routes of the classic rally, where he was also a regular participant. Al-Attiyah announced his decision to participate in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies and to come to Russia again – in the summer, to take part in the “Silk Way” transcontinental marathon. He joked that he was starting to recognize some Russian words.
The floor was given to Vladimir Vasilyev, who is not only a racer at the Baja “Russia – Northern Forest”, but also a co-organizer of this project. He told what made him to invest a lot of efforts in this project, and how he managed to participate in the landmark races.
Vladimir Chagin, the Head of the “Silk Way – 2018” international rally, said that the project supported a good tradition and prepared a special prize for the fastest crew of the Baja “Russia – Northern Forest”. The prize is participation in the “Silk Way – 2018” marathon without the entry fee payment.