BALKAN OFFROAD RALLYE
22.09.2012 – 29.09.2012
Balkan Offroad 2012 started in the Danube River
No, it’s not a joke. Balkan Offroad 2012 started with a spectacular prologue in the Danube river. Actually, the 5 km route crossed the low level river to a small island.
Over 50 vehicles are on the start, including 8 bikes/quads, 17 cars in the “Extreme” category, and the rest in the fast, Dakar-like “Cross Country” class. Participants from 13 nations are in the Bulgarian city of Russe – Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Holland, Hungary, Albania, Bulgaria, Poland, Lettonia, Romania and even Chile.
When we mentioned “Dakar”, we have several competitors from the desert legend, who are on the start in Ruse. With Opel Antara RR T1s are the first Bulgarian participant in the Dakar Rally Peter Cenkov (with quad), who switched to car this year. Balkan Offroad is his second race, after Silk Way Rally early in the summer. Cenkov’s teammate is another Dakar pilot – Raul Dagnino (Chile), worldwide popular as the man who saved the blocked Chilean miners 2 years ago. The Opel team has a really strong rivals in the face of pilots like Jorg Gruenbeck (last year winner of the Balkan Offroad in “Cross Country”), Petar Minchev (who was second in 2011), the trophy veteran Giles Girousse and many others.
In the “Extreme” class it will be a battle, like we know in Poland. On the start are such names like Maurice Ubachs and Martin Haehle. Sounds familiar, yeah? What is also interesting – there are two Dacia Duster cars from Romanian factory supported team. Will they do it? We will see. But Breslau Balkan 2012 will be another magnificent event labelled “Breslau” for sure.
After the spectacular prologue, Balkan Offroad 2012 went to its first special stage, 80 km long. The rally passed in the surroundings of Russe, offering many adrenaline to the competitors.
In the “Cross Country” category, the fastest was Desislav Slavchev (Bulgaria, Mercedes), followed by Raul Dagnino (Chile, Opel Antara) and Joerg Gruenbeck (Germany, Mercedes). The leading trio was in short distance between them.
The “Extreme” class had like a leader Franck Daurelle (France, Land Rover), followed by Roland Brack (Switzerland, Toyota) and Maurice Ubachs (Holland, Toyota). The trophy was really demanding, offering the competitors Poland-like route – swamps, rivers and many more.
In the Enduro category, the leader for the day was Hagen Maikranz. Second is Cornell Coezijn and 3rd – Domenica Saul. All of them are KTM riders.
Despite some small accident (without injuries) the Breslau Balkan caravan is in full condition. Tomorrow, the race is moving to Sliven, but after 300 km special stage, which will bring the participants into the Stara planina mountain (the Balkan). Stay online for the rankings.
TOWARDS THE MOUNTAINS
For the second day of the Balkan Offroad, competitors have left the banks of the Danube River through unforgettable landscapes and the mountains of Bulgaria in Sliven to camp in a disused airport. Both categories have travelled about 300 km but following a different road book, The Extreme class as well as parts of navigation has found its classic obstacles which have involved vehicles and crews for the category Cross Country the fast tracks, first hill and then mountain, have allowed the riders to express the most of their driving skills. As usual in the evening at the bivouac is animated by the noise of the tools of mechanical mending SUVs. The crews after the briefing are intent on studying the road book for the next day.
Ruse – Sliven
Near 300 km special sections was in the menu for the second day of Breslau Balkan 2012. The stage from Ruse to Sliven passed trough unique places in the field and in the mountain, but we are sure that almost nobody from the participants did not have time to take a look of the nature. The reason – our first marathon stage was really heavy for both the categories – “Extreme/Enduro” and “Cross Country”. After the fast first part in the flat north part of Bulgaria, Stara planina mountain offered to the rally heavy route with narrow tracks, sharp turns, slippery hills and tricky navigation.
In the “Cross Country” class, Stage 2 winner was the crew Peter Cenkov – Ivan Marinov (Opel Antara). The two time “Dakar” participant from Bulgaria took 24 minutes advantage over the last year Balkan Offroad winners Joerg Gruenbeck and Thomas Dasinger (Mercedes). Third on the finish line were Richard Oguez – Claude Lartigue (Land Rover Tomcat, France). The overall Top 3 ranking after day 2 is the same.
In the “Extreme” category we saw another epic battle between the “classic” Breslau veteran teams Martin Haehle – Wolfgang Braun (Germany) and Maurice Ubachs – Maurice van Weersch (Holland). Last year’s winner in the extreme category Haehle for now leads the duel with 13 minutes advantage for the stage, and 10 minutes in the overall ranking. Third place for the day was for the crew from Albania / Austria Rentjan Sina – Dolly Wittberger, but the same place in the overall is for Christophe Moine – Raphael Blanchard (Land Rover Tomcat, France).
Sliven – Sliven
Stage 3 of Balkan Offroad Rallye was really demanding for the competitors. The 180 km long selective section in the Stara planina mountain offered heavy and long route with a lot of obstacles, and even the “Cross country” category faced some trophy-like places, with many rocks, river crossings and narrow forest roads.
This kind of route was obviously good for the ex-trophy crew Dessislav Slavchev – Margarita Stainova (Mercedes G), who was the fastest for the day. Anyway, the Bulgarians has big disadvantage from stage 2 and they are 8th, 1:30 hours after the provisional leader Peter Cenkov (Opel Antara), who took 2nd place for the stage. Third place for the day was for the French duo Thierry Pitavy – Thierry Rativet (toyota Hilux), but the “bronze” in the general ranking is for the Latvian team Janis Auzins – Martins Lilienfelds (Mitsubishi Pajero). Joerg Gruenbeck is stil second I nthe provisional list, 50 minutes after the leader.
In the “Extreme” category the nice surprise for the day was the 1st place of the team Rentjan Sina- Dolly Wittberger (Toyota Landcruiser). With the stage win, the Albanian-Austrian duo moved 2nd in the overall, surpassing the recently winner Martin Haehele (Toyota Landcruiser). Haehle, had a hard day and finished 6th, giving the provisional leadership to his main rival Maurice Ubachs (Toyota Hilux, 2nd for the day).
Sliven – Shkorpilovci
Day 4 of Balkan Offroad Rallye 2012 took the participants to the Black sea coast. The stage from Sliven to Shkorpilovci, 180 km long and divided on 2 parts, leaded the race caravan trough Stara planina mountain and the surrounding fields. And unlike the previous heavy route, this time, at least for the rally-raid class, the route was significantly lighter.
In the “Cross Country” category, Raul Dagnino (Chile, Opel Antara) took the stage win in front of Dessislav Slavchev (Mercedes G, Bulgaria) with 4 minutes advantage. Dagnino’s teammate Petar Cenkov was 3rd, but still leads the overall ranking, followed by Dagnino and Slavchev. And if Cenkov has comfortable one hour in advance, the battle after him is hard, especially between Slavchev and the 4th in the overall Janis Auzins (Latvia, Mitsubishi).
In the “Extreme” class Martin Haehle (Toyota) senш a gift back to his main rival Maurice Ubachs. Winning the stage, Haehle now moved second in the overall, displacing Rentjan Sina (Toyota, Albania, 5th for the day). The difference between Ubachs and Haehle is less than 5 minutes in the overall, and Sina is 45 minutes behind them.
In the “Enduro” category the stage win was for the UTV crew Nicolas Souffrant – Kevin Chenu (Polaris RZR). Second was the overall leader Hagen Maikranz.
After “the battle”, Black sea welcomed Balkan Offroad 2012 with warm summer time and even good water. The atmosphere for the participants and the service crews, who had not so many work to do. The evening continued with a strong DJ party on the beach until the morning. Also on the beach was the start of Stage 5 today.
Shkorpilovci – Shkorpilovci
The Black sea welcomed Balkan Offroad 2012 with warm weather and holiday mood, but now is time to work hard. Both categories had 90 kms long stage, in the surroundings, with start and finish on the beach. “The beach party” was Dakar style attractive, with clouds of sand, overpassingss and stuck.
In the “Cross Country” category the fight now is really cruel. The overall leader Petar Cenkov (Opel Antara RR) started well, but after a hit in a rut he broke the front wheel suspension. The repairing cost him above an hour and thus Cenkov finished the stage on 9th place. Despite this, the Bulgarian is still overall leader, with over 30 minutes advantage to the second. And this second is now Dessislav Slavchev (Mercedes G), who pushed to the limit after his bad stage 2. Slavchev was so fast, but not enough to take the stage win. The winner of the day with 2 minutes in advance was Janis Auzins (Latvia, Mitsubishi Pajero) and is 3rd overall. Raul Dagnino (Chile, Opel Antara RR) fall to 4th place overall after not so good day.
Stage 5 was shorter than the others, but not easier for the “Extreme” category. The trophy specialists faced maybe the hardest route from the beginning of Breslau Balkan 2012. There was 3 extremely difficult sections, which costed the participants many efforts and a lot of winching. Several teams did not managed to the finish in the maximum allowed time for the stage. The leading trio for the day (and same in the overall) was Maurice Ubachs – Martin Haehle – Rentjan Sina.
In the enduro category, winner for the day was Pascal Troyon (Can Am), but overall leader is still Hagen Mainkranz (KTM). This is the sole class without abandoned participants.
Shkorpilovci – Shkorpilovci
Today is another loop around Shkorpilovci, but 130 km long.
Shkorpilovci – Shumen
The penultimate stage of Balkan Offroad 2012 was really dramatic. The route, from Shkorpilovtci to Shumen, near 200 km long, was in the mountain and some new territories, offering amazing landscapes. But more important, the stage bring some troubles to many participants, with serious changes in the overall ranking in both categories.
The big drama was for the recent leader in “Cross Country” class Petar Cenkov. His Opel Antara had serious clutch problems and Cenkov did not managed to the finish of Stage 7. By the rules of the rally, he has a huge time penalty and now is hours after the top 3 drivers with no chances for the podium. The new overall leader is now Dessislav Slavchev (Bulgaria, Mercedes G), who finished the stage on 2nd position, after Veselin Radev (Bulgaria, Mitsubishi Pajero). Dessislav restored fast his disadvantage and now has comfortable 2 hours in front of Janis Ausins (Latvia, Mitsubishi Pajero, 6th place for the stage). Third in the overall is Raul Dagnino (Chile, Opel Antara), but third on the stage was Samuel Rodriguez (Mitsubishi Pajero, 4th in overall).
Also drama in the “Extreme” category. The biggest pretended for the victory, Maurice Ubachs (Toyota Hilux) lost a lot of time the last two days and now is 4th overall, 1:30 hours behind the leader. And this leader is Martin Haehle (Toyota Proto), who was second for the day. Good surprise in the second part of the race is Franck Daurelle (Land Rover Defender) who took the stage win and now is second in the general ranking, followed by Rentjan Sina (Toyota).
In the “Enduro” class, Pascal Croyon (Can Am) took another stage victory, but overall leader, like every day, is Hagen Maikranz (KTM).
The situation in Balkan Offroad 2012 looks almost clear, but the last stage can bring us some surprises. Wait several hours for the final rankings.