‘I am done, really!’ says Beat Juen, the first competitor to finish the race today. He had a tough time on the technical third specials today. ‘The first two stages were fine, but the last knocked me out!’ With three different specials the competitors had a bit of everything, allowing everyone to shine in their favourite terrain.
Being the fastest biker requires skill and speed. ‘I have a trick,’ says Beat Juen with a smile. ‘My bike has the bigger motor, allowing for high speeds. In the valleys this morning I reached 175kmh, a fantastic speed. Especially on the long runs from hill to hill you can see kilometers ahead and make good progress.’
Guido Slaats is the first quad to arrive, happy with the different sections today. ‘If you have only fast stages, it gets boring. If there are only technical tracks you get tired, but this has everything. I really enjoyed today, it was tough but a great ride. ‘The other’ Guido on the quad, Guido Drooghaag arrives quickly after him, happy with a perfect day. ’The organisation rescued me from the forest a few days ago when my quad broke down, but we fixed it and I am racing again!
‘Even if you ride a motorbike all year round, doing a stage like this is still a big thing!’ Bernd von Osten is happy to arrive at the finishline, smiling from ear to ear and very tired. Henno van Bergeijk has the same problem. ‘I prefer the fastest stages, and perhaps I can gain some time in the next days. On this one I just had to hold on, hang on and reach the finishline!’
Something has unleashed Frank Stensky today, as he is flying across the stage and takes over ten minutes lead on Ronald Schoolderman. ‘I did not drive slower in the previous days,’ he says. ‘We just had issues on each stage so far, this is the first time everything works and we can race at our own pace!’ The card were not so good for Ronald today, with engine problems and a navigation mistake. Marcel Blankestijn: ‘I sent Ronald into the wrong direction, it was a difficult situation to find and Stephan had the right track.’
In the SSV ranking Thierry Gerome has issues with the steering box on the Polaris. ‘Can you imagine, we drove 100 km with a loose steering box! I did not dare to go fast, so we lost time.’ This is the moment of opportunity for Ralf Berlit, who finishes as first SSV today. It is not only the fastest growing class, it is also a very fast class with new models coming out each year. ‘We have bought the Maverick X3 as we wait for our new Herrador buggy, and it is a really nice vehicle!’
As the night falls there are many competitors on the stage, trying to reach the finishline. Today was a normal stage, tomorrow we head north to Shkorpilovtsi, the final bivouac on the beach of the Black Sea!