Full of souvenirs was todays stage, a great day in the mountains with adventurous driving for the Extreme Class and wide panoramas for Cross Country. ‘This day alone made it worthwhile to come to Bulgaria!’ says Oliver Post, racing on KTM. ‘The views, the landscape, the tracks - excellent!’
Four stages for Cross Country and two for the Extreme class took the competitors over several mountains, into the forest and the hills around Borovets. Starting at mid altitude the route climbed into the mountains to finish with a short but daring stage in between the rocks and canyons of the ski resort Borovets.
With Beat Juen out of the race today Rico van der Sanden from the Netherlands takes the lead. He is fast and careful: ’These stages are stunning, but sometimes very difficult to ride. In technical sections over rocks or with deep ruts, often the roadbook needs attention as well! You can’t just fly over it!’
It’s a mechanic sport, especially on these demanding stages. Nikke Harkjaer was changing the rear A-arms on his quad at the servicepoint today, losing a bit of time. ’There are nasty cracks in them, and I have new ones with me. As we have little time I am helping the mechanics.’ Finishing third today after Tomas Kubiena and Vasil Tomov his strategy worked and he is still in the race.
Konstantin Cholakov reaches incredible speed with his Toyota Hilux, beating even the two wheel drive buggy from Doncho Kanev. Frank Stensky decided to take no risks in the overal ranking, working his way towards the podium with a third place today. ‘We had a nice competition with Pawel in the Overdrive Hilux, as we overtook him several times. His car is clearly faster on gravel or forestroads, the balance is excellent. But on a difficult stage like today we can e good competition for him/
Racing is important, but it is good to be aware of the world around you. ’We stopped several times on the stage to make photos,’ says Udo Heidenreich, racing his Hummer/Unimog prototype in the small truck class. Well known as a competitive racer he is impressed by the landscapes and the route of the Balkan Offroad Rallye. ’These images I take home with me!’
Another poetic team we find in Extreme Class. ’Racing here is like music,’ says Franck Daurelle, overal leader of the Extreme class with his orange Land Rover. ‘And today we had the full orchestra. The stage was like a melody, with impressive panorama’s over the mountains and difficult tracks for the car. It’s a great feeling when it all comes together in this way!
On monday september 12 the Balkan Offroad Rallye leaves Borovets, heading east towards Starosel. Here the Vineyards, hills and agricultural roads will dominate the stages, but not before a last special in the mountains!
Photos: Paolo Baraldi