Balkan Rally: DAY 4: the Marathon to the Black Sea

Arriving at the coast of the Black Sea is special treat for the competitors, after no less than 580 kilometer today. With such distance, the stages are fast, the kilometers fly underneath the wheels and with breathtaking views sometimes the concentration is less than needed…

In the Car category the battle is between Doncho Tsanev, Frank Stensky and Konstantin Cholakov, with Slavchev Desislav at a safe distance. Doncho’s car is a full Bulgarian development, created for the terrain in this country and the results so far speak for themselves.

Tsanko Tsankov and Jerome Pelichet have a fierce battle for the first place in the Side by side ranking. Two teams from different backgronds but with excellent results – despite the mechanical problems that face both of them. Richard Oguez is chasing competitors, overtaking them as he wants to make up for the lost time yeaterday.

On the long stage the overall times of the bikes are slow compared to the cars and side by sides, who can easily fly at full throttle. Aidas Bubinas reached the finishline, but he lost a lot of time on his fellow competitors.

‘The navigation was nice,’ says Dirk Schuttel, who is riding with his son. ‘Often I look slow, but we try to find the right track the first time, all the time. It makes us a popular tourguide, and in difficult sections sometimes we lead an entire group of bikers, quads and cars!

Clemens Eicker makes a good result, in spite of a massive issue with the navigation. ‘I was so lost, I tried everything. And as I was calling my wife to give me the coordinates of the camp, there was a car rght behind me. They passed me and took a small track I had overlooked. They saved my day!

‘The stages here are gorgeous,’ says Sietse Ronner, winner of the Breslau Poland 2017. ‘There are such lovely tracks, sometimes ridges with a view all around. And luckily we don’t have so much work on the car!’

On 580 km a lot can happen. The organiser is working to publish the results, but expects them wednesday morning. The fifth stage of the Balkan Offroad Rallye 2018 is 150 km for the Cross Country class, passing through the valleys and hills of south-eastern Bulgaria, close to the border with Turkey.
DAY 4: 200 km special stage to the Black Sea

Long distances are normally no fun for the trophy cars, but after three hard days the competitors were cheering when they arrived at the finishline and in the bivouac at the Black Sea. ’It is the first stage that just went perfect from start to finish!’ says Bruno Mauro, who has been fighting to arrive here.

A long drive into the mountains north of Starosel brought the competitors in eastern direction, towards the Black Sea. It was a welcome ‘friendly’ stage, and the front runners used today to see who had the biggest heart.

After receiving parts from Francoise Hollender, Christophe Moine thought the best way to say ‘thank you’ was to offer tough competition. Arriving at the finishline with just 3 minutes lead of Franck and Francoise puts them in the second place today.

Faster than the Cross Country cars, the competitors in the Balkan Extreme came racing down from the hills near the finish. Full in dust, roaring engines, taking every chance to safe some time and win perhaps a few seconds in the race.

Tomorrow the competition continues, with a strong off-road oriented stage near the coast and the border with Turkey. 112 km of special stage in a big loop from and to the bivouac in Dyuni will take all day to finish!

Text: Niels Hatzmann
Photo credit: RBI Media