Over 15 teams from all over the world have joined the first edition of the Balkan Classic Rallye, the eight day endurance rally on gravel and dirtroads in Bulgaria held from 10 to 18 september 2016. Starting on the main square in front of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and finishing on the beach of the Black Sea near Varna the Balkan Classic Rallye is a true adventure on European soil.
‘We have created a roadbook with special stages through the mountains, the hills and the valleys of Bulgaria,’ says organiser Alexander Kovatchev. ‘Reaching over 2000 meters in the mountains around Sofia the competitors will start in a magnificent landscape above the clouds. After the first days we descent onto the Trackian Plain with its high speed tracks, heading east towards the coast. Using both historic rally stages and completely new roadbooks we connect Bulgaria’s rally heritage with the current times and give the competitors a special insight into our country.’
On the startlist are competitors from all over the world, with teams from as far as Kenya, Argentina and all over Europe. Bernard Munster of BMA Racing is one of them, racing with Andrée Hansen. ‘A new race is exciting and we are happy to be here and support the organisation. It rarely happens that you have the opportunity to race without prior knowledge about the terrain, it is a level playing field for all!’
Racing the famous Datsuns of Dansport Geoff Bell and Andrew Siddal are anxious to get their cars out and onto the track. ‘We look forward to the distance in this event, it’s great to race 8 days and quite adventurous to go into the mountains. Our cars are prepared for tough events and we like to use every opportunity to race them!’
Ewald Holler is one of the founding fathers of the Balkan Classic, inspiring its conception with a simple request to come and race in Bulgaria with his Toyota. ‘I want to race like we did in the seventies, to get into the car and drive long days. After my initial phonecall Alexander Kovatchev came back to me with the outline of the Balkan Classic, and with 15 cars on this first edition we are positively surprised with the response!’
Balkan Classic runs parallel with the Balkan Offroad Rallye and one of the people connecting these worlds is Dakar competitor Annie Seel, who is navigating Jan Hagman in the lovely red Ford Escort. ‘I try to do everything in motorsports!’ says Annie smiling, in love with classic rallycars and their technical simplicity. ’It is a fast growing world, and I am happy to be here!’
Today the last cars arrive and we had the final scrutineering of the vehicles with the help of the Bulgarian Motorsport Federation. The Balkan Classic Rallye is open for everyone with a classic car, so we see a wide range of vehicles. ‘Our team is impressed with the quality of the cars and the preparation of the teams,’ says Alexander Kovatchev. ‘The attention to detail and the historic value of the cars is something special, these vehicles make your heart beat a little faster!’
On saturday september the 10th the Balkan Classic Rallye begins with a showstart in the heart of Sofia, after which three special stages of 71,74km bring the competitors back to the bivouac in the ski resort Borovets. ‘From the city and the showstart in front of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral we go directly into the mountains, to one of the highest points in the region. It is not for the faint of heart. Prudence and respect for the mountains will be rewarded in the first days of the event!’
More info and our daily videos from the event can be found at www.balkanclassic.com and on our Facebook page.