The fastest day in the Balkan Offroad Rallye so far
Today was one of the fastest days in the Balkan Offroad Rallye so far, on fast flowing tracks. Reaching the top speed of your vehicle is something special, racing at the limit of what you can and dare to do. Still, navigation decided the fate of the front runners, as several of the fastest teams lost time finding their way in the forest..
Doncho Canev wins the stage today, a fantastic result for this fast Bulgarian team. They managed to find the way and use the potential of their vehicle to the max. It was a day of dust, in which you need a big heart to overtake and make some speed.
‘We got lost!’ says Stephan Stensky, co-driver of Frank Stensky. They loose at least 20 minutes on Ronald Schoolderman who is leading the overal ranking. ‘Already 8 kilometer after the start we missed a tulip!’ Even though Frank tried to speed they still lost time on the leaders of the race today, battling with the dust.
‘For us it is good news,’ says Marcel Blankestijn, co-driver of Ronald Schoolderman. They are leading the overal ranking in their fast Toyota ORD 1, and it brings happiness to the team. ‘Today we were able to drive freely and race at our maximum. When you are in front you have to defend your position, but you have free sight and no dust.’
Racing along the outer edge of Europe like the Balkan Offroad Rallye did today is something different. Fast flowing tracks, up and downhill in a beautiful way make for happy drivers. ‘It is like skiing with your car!’ says Herman Jasper with a smile from ear to ear. Not all co-drivers agree though, as Thierry Gerome is beaming with joy from a fantastic drive his good friend and co-driver points at the forehead..
Not just for the fastest teams these stage are a pleasure, everyone enjoys this type of driving. ‘We went like a Swiss clockwork today,’ says Jean Francois Ryo, ‘and Marie-Aline made no mistake in the navigation at all!’ Their nice T2 Land Cruiser 120 was flying over the gravel, in a landscape similar to what they have at home. ‘We live in the east of France near the Alps and it looks just the same. And we are lucky that Alex organises a race like this, so we can enjoy it in the competition!
Richard Oguez lets the Tomcat fly, reaching the finish at high speed. ‘Can you imagine, I have my old Extreme car and I am racing with the pro’s!’ He is smiling at the finish line, enjoying the game together with his good friends. As his good friend Gilles Girousse arrives we receive a potential alarming situation on the stage, with a Dutch team.
‘Yes, we missed the turn!’ says Erno van Lieshout. He missed the turn, flew off the bridge and landed the car on the side and back on its wheels. ‘It was quite a jump, but when we were back on the wheels everything still worked! We checked the car and started looking for a way out of the small canyon.’ They quickly found a good route and made it to the finish line of the third stage of the Balkan Offroad Rallye!
Text and Photo: Niels Hatzmann, Dutch Rally Press