Balkan Offroad Rallye Leg 5: the longest day
A lot has changed in LEG 5 on the Balkan Offroad Rallye. It is a marathon, not a supercross and those teams who overestimated their material are suffering now. Leader Konstantin Cholakov has mechanical problems with his Hilux, so Doncho Canev takes over. Frank Stensky is second in the overal ranking, pushing the leaders of the race. With three more stages to come the tension is rising!
Racing from Starosel to Shkorpilovtsi the competitors crossed all types of terrain - the last of the mountains, beautiful hills and forests with small waterfalls and long winding gravel roads. It was a beautiful day with compliments for the roadbook team at the finish.
After 5 days at high speed the front runners in each class are changing. Fatique, mechanical problems, no more spare parts.. part of the marathon is calculation, strategy and perseverance. In all classes we see changes and all of a sudden the familiar teams who looked so slow in the beginning are back in the fight for the podium.
Nikke Harkjaer found a nice ravine for his quad, escaping with a few bruises - and giving number one Tomas Kubiena a strong lead over the competition. On the motorbike newcomer from the German Enduro scene is ranked first, a humble and strong rider who has been able to adapt to the rallyraid conditions quickly. Pierre Francois Bardotti is the first SSV, with Lean Gauthier and Nicolas Hoogsteyns at less than 7 minutes. It is an incredible fight in this class!
Getting faster each year, the experienced Franck Daurelle and Francoise Hollender have built a lead in the Extreme class. Zbigniew Popielarczyk is two and a half hour behind them, and has to defend his position with all possible means. Ernst Amort and Roland Brack are both within minutes behind him: one mistake, one small problem will change the ranking completely.
Competition is the goal and mutual help is a gentlemans pride - the atmosphere among the racers doesn’t suffer from the tension on the stage. When Jorg Grunback and Thomas Dasinger crashed their G wagon Udo Heidenreich helped towing them out. ‘And around the corner we found a French Bowler Wildcat in problems, so we decided to help them as well,’ says Udo.
A steep climb on the Extreme roadbook was too much for most competitors. Roland Brack drove around it and stayed on the top as winch anchor, helping the others one by one. Afterwards he went up himself, able to cross the track and reach the finishline as one of the first cars. The Extreme Class is a special competition, one you cannot win without help.
On 15 september, the 6th day of the Balkan Offroad Rallye takes the competitors onto 126 km of special stage. A short ‘afternoon run’ on fast tracks for Cross Country and through the riverbeds for Extreme - a chance to relax before the finale of the Balkan Offroad Rallye 2016!