Starting in the afternoon, a finish in the evening.. today the competitors of the Rallye Breslau Poland get an adventurous and challenging day, with two stages, ending after sunset. It was a choice from the military, or perhaps a gift as it makes the race even more interesting. The battle in front is fantastic, with team racing at the maximum of their possibilities, at the end of their sleep and with the first big mechanical problems in their minds.
The big race in the quad category is between Nikke Harkjaer from Denmark and Remy Kusy from Poland. Racing together, next to each other, chasing from corner to corner and only hoping the other would be slower with the navigation.. it is a fantastic battle to follow with the live tracking and to see in real life.
‘Of course I want to beat him!’ says Remy. ‘Today it would have been easy, but I makde a mistake with the navigation and ended up in the dust, behind another competitor. I could not see anything so I had to go slower.’ Remy races together with several teams, as Janosik team. ‘We are happy when we can race,’ says Remy. ‘And most important, when everyone is back in the camp each night.’
Even though today was a dry and dusty race, Erik Heine managed to find a good and deep mudhole for his KTM LC8 950. His beast is perfect on sand, but too heavy for deep mud. ‘A Pajero pulled me out of the mud,’ says Erik. ‘But everything was dead by then. I took the bike apart, cleaned it and luckily I was just in time for the start of the second stage. But I could not finish it, with all the dust and the low light of the evening. I want to race, but at KM86 I was so tired it took me 10 minutes to lift the bike. It was like a final warning, so I decided to call it a day.’
The French-German connection is strong in the Rallye Breslau Poland. When the co-driver of Richard Oguez had to return home, Tobi Henschel decided to step in. Racing together for the first time they made a second place, almost 1st. ‘Even though we speak different languages, we’ve found each other in the language of the rally. Tobi is tough, very pro and he was pushing me all the time. Gaz, gaz! I had to explain him that we were at the maximum of my vehicle.. It was a great day like this!
In Extreme Class the battle is fierce, and the front runners start to make mistakes. Jim Marsden arrives at a small rivercrossing, tries to find hard soil underneath the peaty swamp and dives deep into the black mud. His co-pilot tries to use the winch, reaches the end of the cable and only with the extra ropes of the recovery crew they are able to get their car through and continue the race. In the distance we see them searching for the route, it is not just technical driving but also difficult navigation on this improvised nightstage. Romain Porchere passes without issues, just as Franck & Francoise who are able to cross the river in no-time, filling the podium for the Extreme Class today.
The field in the extreme class has spread out very wide, with the trucks arriving just before sunset at the last rivercrossing. Steffen Braun (Unimog), Benjamin Kittler (MAN KAT) and Patrick Toepfer (Unimog) are now leading the pack, ahead of last years’ winner Kay Messner. ‘We might have won last year, but we are still learning,’ says Kay. ‘There is no certainty in this sport, every day is new and everything can happen!’
Steffen Braun built a new Unimog, for the Extreme Class in the Breslau. ‘After seven years with our old Unimog it fitted like aq glove. This one is a bit tough to handle, we don’t get along yet. But it is an excellent vehicle. In a river crossing that I did not manage in 3rd, I shifted to 1 and could just drive out!’ This week Steffen will become friends with new the Unimog, although he has a nice list with possible changes for next time.
As the teams cross the river, the ones have to winch but later we see the more adventurous drivers in both car and truck class who are able to master the crossing without winching, much to the joy of the fans and officials who are waiting on the other side. As the sun sets, they know they have to hurry up to reach the finishline before darkness falls over the Polygon..
Tomorrow there is a mass start for the Cross Country class, which will become a hunt across the plain towards the next note in the roadbook. Chasing your fellow competitors, racing nose by nose, only to forget a marathon rallye is won with patience and lost with haste… 162 kilometers of road book might seem like a relaxed day, a break from the pace of the Rallye Breslau Poland 2018 but the teams can expect a technical stage with beautiful off-road racing!
Breslau Poland 2018 Day 4
Two stages of 138 km and 113km with a service stop in between make for a grand day on the Drawsko Polygon. Starting from Konotop the teams head deep into the forest on a generally fast stage with a high average speed. For the navigators it will be a more relaxing day, the drivers will push the throttle and fly across the sand!
Halfway through the day the teams return to the service area based on the outskirts of the famous rally raid town of Drawsko Pomorskie, where the assistance crew can help them with quick repairs, replace broken parts and replenish the energy of the drivers.
The Extreme class joins the Cross Country track for half of the distance and has a separate road book to bring them on a different track to different terrain with interesting navigation and adventurous driving and obstacles. Passing small rivers and lakes, finding the way in marshland and a special section on the eastern part of the Polygon that will keep the competitors busy for most of the day.
Text: Niels Hatzmann RBI Media Images Paolo Baraldi RBI Media