‘It was the best stage of the race so far,’ says Doncho Canev, who was fighting with Frank Stensky and Ronald Schoolderman during the full stage. Nose next to nose, wheel next to wheel, face to face. ‘We were racing as fast as we could, the copilot was working as hard as possible. Only when Frank had his puncture we were able to shake him off, and we finished together with Ronald Schoolderman.’
Racing is about driving pleasure, and what is nicer than a stage full of competition? Not just the front runners have this pleasure, today we saw an intense fight between two Toyota’s, the French Jeremy Rosieux and the Dutch Pierre Statz. ‘We raced together at least 40 kilometer. Those guys are really fast, we had to push to compete with them! But this is what makes a rally special. great tracks and the fun you have together.’
The first stage was beautiful, leading the competitors onto the crest of the hills, for a long driver on a fantastic track before a steep downhill. Jean Jacques Jousseau is delighted: ‘This is fantastic terrain. Can you imagine driving on top of the world, and at speed?’ For Gilles Girousse it was more difficult to drive here, as he had lost his brakes and had to drive in the low gear. ‘Even the downhill we did like this, we just wanted to finish the race!’
One of the special vehicles in this race is a Czech Subaru, fitted with a rollcage, better suspension and gravel tyres. ‘It weighs only 1150 kilo,’ says Jiri Strejc, who has a workshop in Subaru’s in Czechya. ‘And with 160hp it is powerful enough to go everywhere.’ Miloslav Janacek, his codriver has a lot of experience, including 6 Dakars and the Czech offroad championship. ‘We really like the race so far, it is great for our vehicle and the routes are fantastic,’ he says.
Tomorrow is the final day and as soon as the results come in, we will know what the ‘endgame’ will look like!