It’s been a while since the Balkan Offroad 2015. Unfortunately, during those few weeks, we were busy with the media coverage of GRAF Adventure Series and RFC Balkans. After a long journey throughout Facebook, we found an interesting story by Francoise from Euro4x4Parts. Read about her journey through Bulgaria at Balkan Offroad 2015.
This was a great edition of the Balkan Offroad Rally. ORGA did the best job possible. There’s almost nothing to complain about, only minor details, but nothing’s perfect.
Routes, control points, roadbooks… simply great. Also, the food was amazing. Everyone was satisfied and we all can’t wait to do it again.
Main sponsors of the event are: Outback Import, Warn, Koni, Gladiator (Alexander Kovatchev) and Monster.
The Balkan Off Road Rallye start was in Borovets, it’s a beautiful ski resort in southeast Sofia (the Bulgarian capital). Ceremonial start was on Alexander Nevski Cathedral square, this place is the symbol of Sofia.
The first SS was held on the same day in Bistritsa. Everything went OK but we had a tiny puncture. We had to stop to reinflate, finished 4th, that was OK.
Day 2 of Balkan Off Road 2015 started and finished in Borovets camp: extreme passages, azimuth navigation etc. No particular problem, we finished in 5th place, 1 minute behind Christophe Moine. We are now 4th overall.
Third day of racing started again in Borovets but the finish was in a beautiful wine region of Starosel.
This part of the race was consisted of 320 km of racing. I made a small navigation mistake on the first SS, without consequences thankfully.
Second SS was a bit worrying. After 40 km of racing (altogether 154 km), in the middle of a small village… clutch malfunction. The pedal was soft, we were losing fluid. Franck did a great job, he repaired it using his skill and a few things he found at the “scene of the crime”. A moment of silence, we try it again – It works! Determined to race as nothing happened, we overtook a number of competitors. Unfortunately not enough.
In the evening we noticed a small leak on the front CV joint, nothing serious. No need to worry.
Luis Wee, the official representative of the RFC Malaysia came to visit the bivouac during that day. The RFC selection just finished in Bulgaria (RFC Balkans, part of the RFC Global Series).
Ah… The results of the day. Not to bad, but not great either. We finished on the 14th place. We are now 6th overall, 14 minutes behind Henrik Strasser (5th place).
We were happy with our 4th day of racing. It starts in Starosel and finishes in Krastevich. 100 km long single stage. It was good considering our starting position. Successful azimuth navigation gave us an opportunity to overtake a number of competitors. We finished 2nd. We are now 5th overall. The 4th place is within reach but there are 4 days of racing left.
The 5th day was extreme, this is what we live for. Swamps, mud and a lot of winching. This is it.
On our journey to the finish line we had a problem. Right before the end of the SS we had only one running gear. Slow, calm pace, nothing else to do. Despite our problems, we finished 3rd..
Leg 6 was hardcore. 486 km of marathon. From the Starosel camp to Shkorpilovtsi, on a beach near Varna. The marathon was consisted of four stages.
The weather was awful. But no real problems for us. That’s obvious I guess, since we finished the day first. The results were announced on the next day, before the briefing. The briefing was actually postponed due to late arrival of some competitors. We drove for 6 hours and 26 minutes on Leg 6. Some crews drove for 12 hours and some of them never made it to the finish line.
We are now strong 2nd overall.
On the 7th day it was easy. Just 118 km. We were leading when we had to stop due to a puncture. River sections with spectators. It was nice. Despite the puncture, we finished 3rd.
Day 8. This was real off road. Only one SS but very complicated driving and navigation. Winching, confusing navigation loops, cross country. We finished in first position.
During the year, me and Franck have a few competitions we like to visit and race at. Balkan Off Road Rally is very special for us, we met there. And we enjoy it every time.
1. Martin Haehle and Wolfgang Braun, Germany, Toyota KZJ73 equipped with a BMW engine 300CV
2. Franck Daurelle and Françoise Hollender, France, Land Rover Defender 39 ‘ behind Martin Haehle
3. Roland Brack and Carmen Hrup, Switzerland, Toyota HZJ74, 47 ‘behind us.
We are very proud to be on the podium:
– With a Land Rover in a landscape dominated by Toyota
– We are a French team in a very German environment
– Euro4x4parts team, in a race where Outback Import is the main sponsor
In the Cross Country category, the only Euro4x4parts crew, Didier and Sophie Cossus, ended in 10th position out of 40 vehicles, while there were only 20 of us in the Extreme category.
TEXT: Emilio Mocibob, Francoise G. Hollender
PHOTO: Sandra Biegun, Anton Anestiev, Dutch Rally Press, Paolo Baraldi, Bartosz Ciemiecki, Yana Stancheva – courtesy of: Francoise G. Hollender