Balkan Offroad Rallye Leg 6: here comes the rain


Leg 6 was planned as a short stage, easy to drive and a nice way to relax before the final days of the Balkan Offroad Rallye. Until the rain came, and the tracks turned to soap. What was normally an easy uphill section now took fullgas, with flying mud and spectacular driving. After a few minutes the rain was gone and for the last competitors the tracks were almost dry - a strange sight in this lovely green landscape.

In the bike ranking you clearly see the first riders come through fast & nice, with the top five making great times. For those behind them it was a different story, as a wet track in this region of Bulgaria requires lots of attention while riding. ‘I tried to speed, but it was futile,’ says Kay-Arne Bulsink, who slipped and crashed several times with his bike as the hailstorm hit him.

Peter Groneschild on his Yamaha Raptor is making up time in the bad weather. ‘I let the air out of my tires and adjusted my riding - and I could catch up with the leaders today!’ There are more riders who like the wet and slippery conditions on the stage today, able to catch up. Nicolas Hoogsteyns in his Polaris is second today, and first overal. ‘I have such a great co-driver, he did not miss a tulip today!’

Frank Stensky does the impossible - taking the overal lead with his rigid axle Mercedes Lennson in as field with Overdrive Hiluxes and fast Bowlers. The advantage of independent suspension is enormous, but Frank shows that you need more than as he sets the bar for the forthcoming days. Desislav Slavchev is one unlucky driver, rolling over on one of the dirtroads in between the fields. ‘We could not do anything,’ says his co-driver Margerita. ‘Before I knew it we were upside down. Michael Weimer pulled the car back on its wheels so we could continue.’

In Extreme Class today it is all about navigation, with Christophe Moine being the first to reach the finishline. Paul Dehouve is welding new mounts for his shockabsorbers, working and driving on the klimit of what he can do. ’For me this is the maximum!’ he says. ‘It is my first year here and I understand it is quite a tough edition. The landscape is extraordinary, and now I hope my car will reach the end!’

Tomorrow the stage will be twice as long and the rain has made the tracks slippery. ‘The darker the soil, the harder it gets,’ says Herman Jasper. ‘So far it has been quiet for us, but tomorrow and saturday it must happen, we will floor it!’