The 11th edition of the infamous Red Bull Romaniacs Rally kicked off in Sibiu, Romania on Tuesday, 15 July with the traditional prologue in the centre of Sibiu where competitors had to complete a challenging course made of man made obstacles such as logs, rocks, tyres and wooden bridges. Close to 400 competitors registered for ‘The world’s toughest Hard Enduro Rally’ from countries reaching as far as Russia, Ecuador, Australia and South Africa, divided into different classes such as Gold, Silver, Bronze and Iron.
As usual the prologue was a real crowd pleaser and riders could show off their riding skills. Especially the world’s elite of Extreme Enduro put on a breath taking show with their incredible riding talent. Both Brother KTM’s Wade Young and Kirsten Landman managed to qualify for the prologue finals in their respective classes, being Gold and Bronze. A fantastic first step as the prologue result would determine the starting order for the next day.
Wednesday marked the first race day and over a period of four days the Carpathian Mountains would be the home of the 2014 Red Bull Romaniacs edition where the men were about to be separated from the boys. An early 6h30 start saw the leaders setting off into the mountains where Gold competitors had to complete a 119 km racing stage and Bronze competitors a 106 km racing stage. The stage was tough in the beginning and very slippery on the grass. Gold competitors had to face a long downhill and a long and steep uphill with lots of roots an hour into the race.
“Overall I had a good day, there was quite a bit of traction out there and I’m loving my KTM 300 EXC.”, said Young who posted the sixth fastest time on the first race day.
This is how Kirsten Landman experienced her fist Romaniacs race day: “I had an awesome day and was loving every second of it. My Freeride 250 R is just amazing and I tried to be smooth and didn’t make any mistakes.”
Thursday, the second race day, was a lot harder than the previous day’s race day and competitors had to stay focused in order not to make too many mistakes in the Carpathian Mountains, racing from Sibiu all the way to Voineasa and covering a racing distance of 133 km’s in the Gold class and 117 km’s in the Bronze class respectively. A sunny day had a lot of climbing in store for the riders and one man that impressed everyone was Brother KTM’s Wade Young when he finished third in the Gold class, less than a minute behind KTM’s Jonny Walker.
“I had a really good day today, but it was a lot harder than yesterday. There were some crazy down hills of which I had to walk down a few. We went through the forests and there were one or two fast sections today, other than that we had a lot of climbing to do and the hills just felt never ending. I caught Chris Birch quite early and saw Paul Bolton and Letti on the first gold section. I rode with them for a while and kept a good pace, which allowed me to get away from them. I stayed consistent all day and tried to make no mistakes. I felt really good and my bike is running great, so I really enjoyed today.”, said a happy Wade Young after race day 2.
Kirsten Landman had an eventful day when she first had a little tumble down a gnarly downhill and went over the bars to familiarize herself with some Romanian dirt. Then 1.5km before the finish line disaster struck and Kirsten drowned her bike in the river and could not manage to start her bike anymore. Thanks to her ‘never give up’ attitude Kirsten knew she had to make it to the finish and pushed her bike all the way to the finish line.
“The first half of the race went well and I felt comfortable on the bike. There was nothing too technical and there were quite a few fast sections. On one downhill section I went over the bars, fortunately my bike wasn’t damaged so I could carry on. There were more technical climbs after the service point and we kept on climbing quite a bit today. Towards the end I drowned my bike in the river and had to push it all the way to the finish line. I am exhausted but happy and this place is just breathtakingly beautiful. I am loving my Freeride, I’m so comfortable on it.”, said Kirsten Landman.
The third race day where competitors had to race from Voineasa to Petrosani to finish on top of an old industrial building was to be the longest and hardest race day of the Rally so far with a distance of 161 km’s (Gold) and 132 km’s (Bronze) to be covered.
“I had another good day today, but ran out of petrol and had to ride on reserve for about 15 km’s. I took it easy to bring it home safe.”, said Wade Young who finished in an incredible third place for the day.
Kirsten Landman had a great start into the day and made up good time until 30 km’s from the finish her bike cut out: “My bike cut out and I had to change my spark plug. I got a little frustrated and lost about 20 minutes, but was glad that I could keep on going again.”, said Kirsten Landman.
Fatigue was starting to kick in at this point and with one more day to go competitors had to dig deep and prepare themselves for another tiring day which had 162 km’s of riding in store for the Gold class and 147 km’s for the Bronze class.
“On day 4 I battled a bit to get into a nice rhythm. I had one or two big crashes but I had to stay focused the whole race and managed to push all the way to the finish line. The race was hard, but not as hard as last year. It was great, but challenging and I had a lot of fun. What makes Romaniacs so challenging is that it’s four days of tough Endurance racing which makes it so different from all the other Extreme Enduro races. I am extremely happy with my podium finish and I am looking forward to coming back home to South Africa.”, said a very happy Wade Young who finished in third place overall behind KTM’s Jonny Walker and Husqvarna’s Graham Jarvis.
And this is how Kirsten Landman experienced her first ever Red Bull Romaniacs: “The last day was awesome. The track was nothing too technical, it was very flowing and fun. My KTM Freeride 250 R went great. Coming into this I had no Idea what I was prepared for. Riding back home in Natal is not anywhere near this Romanian terrain. There were many times where I was completely out of my comfort zone, this was all new to me and I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life. Finally everything I had spent months and months preparing and working for was paying off and the four long days of riding has come to and end and crossing the finish line was a dream come true for me and one of the best feeling in the world.” Kirsten Landman finished in an incredible 47th place in the Bronze class out of 167 Bronze entries.