The Balkan Offroad Rallye 2018: from the mountains to the sea in eight beautiful days. The race tells the story of Bulgaria in no less than 2700 kilometres. Teams from all over Europe came to Borovets for the start of the event, for the competition in one of the most beautiful and diverse scenery of Europe!
Racing in the mountains is not for the fainthearted, with tracks well over 2000m high, on mountain tracks, crests and rocks – but every two days the bivouac changes and the race moves east.
The terrain changes as well, crossing hills, vineyards, valleys and forests until the Balkan Offroad Rallye finally reaches the beach of Shkorpilovtsi at the Black Sea, just south of Varna.
The Balkan Extreme is a new name: since 2011 it has been organised as part of the Balkan Offroad Rallye. To avoid confusion and make clear the Balkan Extreme is a true extreme off-road competition, in which you have to do everything: from classic trophy to navigation, from water crossings to bouldering and winching.
Winner Jim Marsden: ’The roadbook takes you deep into the forest, to places that you cannot imagine in your wildest dreams. It is epic, unreal. It is not a mud event, but the most brutal race I’ve done, over eight eight days in these conditions is incredible!’ With his Ultra4 spec car he made the rocks and difficult sections look like carpet, giving the other teams a hard time to keep up.
Franck Daurelle and Francoise Hollender met in 2012 at this race, and keep it in their calendar for the love of the sport and as a celebration of their relationship. They have to fight to beat Jim Marsden, and the victory of the stage wins becomes even sweeter. ‘On the last day, we noticed Jim’s tracks went wrong,’ says Franck. ‘And if there ever was a chance to beat him, this would be it!’
In the Cross-country category, Konstantin Cholakov and Ivalylo Zhekov win the Balkan Offroad Rallye with their own prototype Toyota Hilux, after a marathon in which many teams tried and failed to overtake them.
Adam and Michal Bomba from Poland are the only foreign teams able to put their feet on the podium, in the second place. Doncho Tsanev almost lost everything when he got stuck on the beach, 500m before the finish line, but Petar Minchev towed him out in a spectacular way and saved his third place on the podium!
It’s not all about racing:
‘After so many years of racing and winning, we wanted to bring our children and a group of friends to the race,’ says Udo Heidenreich, who has raced and won both the Rallye Breslau Poland and the Balkan Offroad Rallye in the truck class. ‘We built three Volkswagen T4 Syncros, with a rollcage, Bilstein shocks and a big bashplate. Perhaps we will make it to the second bivouac, we thought. But the little VW’s just kept going. We raced every day and were able to finish on the beach of the Black Sea!’
If you want to compete in the Balkan Offroad Rallye, you gather some friends, prepare your vehicle and go for it. You might even consider entering in the ‘Discovery’ class, our adventure class for those who like to run roadbooks without the chrono.
If you want to win and race the front-runners, it is a different story. For this, you need to be fast in any terrain, to understand your vehicle, it’s abilities and your own, both in driving and in the navigation. And you face competitors who know how to build up a race and compete in the marathon.
Sources: Niels Hatzmann – Photo credit: RBI Media