Polish driver Sobiesław Zasada will be driving a Ford Fiesta Rally3 this weekend. His career… and his goals.
The rally is conservative. This Thursday, Sobiesław Zasada took the start of the Safari Rally at the controls of a Ford Fiesta in the Rally3 category prepared at M-Sport. Particularity: the pilot is 91 years old.
Born in 1930, the man would race a motorbike in Communist Poland when Ari Vatanen was still in a diaper. It was mostly European rally champion in 1966, 1967 and 1971 at the controls of a microscopic Steyr-Puch 650, then a Porsche 912 and a BMW 2002 TI. At that time, Sébastien Loeb was not born, the world championship did not yet exist and the continental crown was considered the most prestigious title for a rallyman.
The trophy cabinet of this specialist in long-distance events includes in particular four victories in Rally Poland – with his wife Ewa Zasada as co-pilot – and a triumph at the Gran Premio de Turismo XXL race through Argentina. Add a 4th place to the legendary London-Sydney or runners-up at Monte-Carlo or Lyon-Charbonnières. He then scrapes with Vic Elford, Sandro Munadi, Jean-Claude Andruet or Pauli Toivonen.
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“At the time, I was driving up to 6000 km non-stop! explains the nonagenarian in an interview with the official website of the WRC. These rallies were very difficult. In the longest Safari Rally in 1972, which was contested over 6480 km, I finished second. The winner was over nine hours behind schedule. It was three days and three nights of rolling, without interruption. Drinking tea has helped me a lot! “
=> The driver’s record on e-WRC
Sobiesław Zasada had made a first comeback in this Kenyan event twenty-four years ago. At the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III, he had put his experience of driving in the savannah to his advantage, finishing 12th overall and 2nd in Group N.
By participating in this first Safari Rally counting for the WRC for 19 years, he beats the record for the oldest driver entered in a world championship rally. Until now, it belonged to Leif Vold-Johansen, according to information collected by the specialist site DirtFish. The Norwegian – born in 1911 – took part in the 1994 Monte-Carlo Rally at the age of 83 driving a Volkswagen Golf GTI 16v. He had also participated in the winter classic the following year as a co-pilot before disappearing in 1996.
Three quarters of a century after his debut on four-wheelers, Sobiesław Zasada intends above all to profit from the experience: “My objective is purely and simply to cross the finish line”.
Photo : Jzdzarski / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0
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The TV program of the World Rally Championship
The WRC 2021 guide
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