Incredible speed, big hearts and a lot of dust
You needed a big heart on the stage today, with dust and high speeds on the small Bulgarian tracks. ‘It was a fantastic stage,’ says Thierry Gerome with a smile. ‘We danced with our Polaris on the track, going from jump to jump and from corner to corner.’ He was leading all day, chasing motorbikes and quads on the fast stage.
Beat Juen and Oliver Post set the speed on this stage, flying over the tracks on their motorbikes. It is a miracle to see the smoothness of the riding and navigation, and hard to beat for those who follow. In the Quad class Guido Slaats takes the win as his competitors have problems with the dust.
Fighting for the win are Frank Stensky and Doncho Canev, who battle all day long on the stage. ‘Doncho overtook us when we had to stop for a temperature problem,’ says co-driver Stephan Stensky. ‘We managed to make up for the lost time, but it was not an easy ride today!’
Desislav Slavchev had to work hard today, chasing car after car in the dust. He overtook at least 20 cars today, a daunting task in the thick dust on the stage. ‘I stopped counting the cars we overtook, but now we have a proper start position for tomorrow!’ he says.
Dust was the challenge for today. Either you risk it and drive through the dust, or you slow down to have a clear view of the track. ‘For me there is a mental and technical limit,’ says Bernd Jaeger, who finished fourth today. ‘If I go beyond 120 kmh, I know my cv-joints overheat and the cv-boots will break. I prefer to keep the car under control.’
Master of high speed Herman Jasper had to cope with the dust, overtaking vehicles and driving carefully to keep his fast Nemesis under control. ‘These stages are made for us, but with the dust we decided to be careful. It was fantastic driving, but only the first of eight days!’
‘We reached 130 kmh today, and the truck did not want to go any faster. I don’t know if we’ve been faster then this before, it was a nice stage today!’ Breslau winner Leon de Wit is happy to be in Bulgaria with the truck, taking the win for the first stage, ahead of Tom Heuer with Tatra and Tilo Suptitz in Kamaz.
The Balkan Offroad Rallye has started with a nice and fast stage. Tomorrow the race moves to the second bivouac in Primorsko, with a long stage crossing many mountains and completely different scenery from today. It will be a technical stage for the lovers of mountains, rocks and wide views.
Text and Photo: Niels Hatzmann, Dutch Rally Press