Balkan Offroad Rallye Edition 2013

Official rally summary

Normally before an off-road competition can be counted amongst top international or legendary cult events a number of years need to pass so that the race becomes a must-not-miss event.

The Balkan Offroad Rallye 2013, which took place in Bulgaria from 14th September to 21st September, has broken all records in terms of speed to become a legend. All this could be attributed to the excellent organisation skills of the new owner of the Breslau, Alexander Kovatchev. He left nothing to chance: perfect road books, beautiful and technically challenging special stages, an experienced and friendly orga team, welcoming and refined hotels with highly professional staff.

To all this we must add the charm, natural beauty and the hospitality of Bulgaria with the icing on the cake being the last stage at the Black Sea , where days were spent racing and the evenings celebrating on the beach warmed by a campfire. It is easy therefore to understand how this competition has managed to captivate the hearts of all the participants, many of them former Dakar racers such as the German rider Tina Meier, the Israeli Raz Heymann, the Bulgarian Petar Cenkov and the French Philippe Gauthier whose daughter Léa (18 years old) had her first ever race at the Breslau Balkan, winning the Side by Side category. They all decreed that the Balkan Breslau had been the best race of the year. For my part, having lived every moment of this event, I cannot help but reinforce the numerous compliments and confirm that we were greatly amazed, in fact captivated by the atmosphere and adrenaline of the race.

The beginning of this beautiful story took place in the region of Kostina a few kilometers from the town of Teteven, where we held the ceremony in the presence of the Minister of Sport and Bulgarian tourism. The Mayor of Teteven entered the competition in the Cross Country category aboard a Jeep Wrangler finishing ninth and demonstrating that in addition to being a good mayor he is also a decent driver. After the prologue took place in the mountainous area of Vasilyovo, 63 contestants gathered in the central square of Teteven, with large crowds for the official start followed by the special night . In the following days, the caravan of the Balkan Breslau shifted further and further towards the East through the Balkan Mountains and aiming for the bivouacs, the city of Sliven and Starosel before arriving, after about 1800 km for Cross Country and 1300 km for Extreme, at the seaside resort of Shkorpilovtsi, a few kilometers from Varna and also known as ” the pearl of the Black Sea .” Varna is Bulgaria’s second city after the capital Sofia and is a major port. At Shkorpilovtsi , more precisely on the beach overlooking the Black Sea , the final events of the race took place with spectacular starts and finishes on the sands of the Balkans that brought back memories to the Dakar veterans of the famous Lac Rose, especially during the last finish that determined the winners of each category. Waiting for all the teams under the finish arch we found an emotional but happy Alexander Kovatchev who as a former driver knows how much the competitors look forward to the chequered flag after a tough rally raid like this.

In the Extreme car category, the podium was all French with three crews: in first place Christophe Moine co-driven by Olivier Vailleau in a Tomcat; second place went to Vincent Roubin and Laetitia Lageix with their beautiful homemade Defender and in third place was Rudy Roquesalane, of RR Concept, co-driven by his wife Aurelia Roquesalane. Rudy and Aurelia had decided to spend their honeymoon participating in the Balkan Breslau and what a better wedding gift than a trophy?

In the Cross Country category the fight for the podium was close fought between the home teams, the Dutch and the French. Following a week of close fighting, the final victory went to the Bulgarian Petar Cenkov, co-driven by Ivan Marinov, who also recorded the fastest speed: as high as 182 km / h. In second place came the Bulgarians Slavchev Desislav and Staynova Margarita in a  Mercedes Proto, and in third place, the Dutch team Maurice & Maurice 4×4 Service Valkenburg. Maurice Ubachs and Maurice Van Weersch after numerous Poland Breslau, including a win and many podiums, and competing in the first two Balkan Offroad in the Extreme category, took no time to come to terms with their Toyota Hi -Lux proto in the Cross Country category and proved themselves to being amongst the best in this category.

The Enduro category was won by Dutchman Simon Schimmel on KTM 450 EXC, with Doron Winter from Israel in second place on KTM 500 EXC and in third place the Dutchman Henno van Bergejk on Husaberg FE450. The side by side category was won by the French crew made up of Lea Gauthier and Philippe Gauthier (daughter and father) aboard a Polaris RZR 900E. On the second step of the podium was a Belgian team, composed of Fabrice Della Barbera and Marc Lelateur also on their Polaris RZR900 and another team from Belgium, the Delaby’s (husband and wife) with their Polaris RZR900 were third.

Amongst the quads the victory went to the Dutch Robert Weijers on a Yamaha Raptor , the Swiss Pascal Troyon aboard a Can-Am Renegade finished second whilst on the lowest step of the podium was the Bulgarian Vasil Tomov on KTM XC . The awards ceremony ended with a spectacular fireworks display on the beach.

The Balkan Offroad Rallye 2013 will remain forever in the hearts of all those who can say “I was there!” Alexander Kovatchev and his close-knit team are already working on 2014, hoping to surprise us once again?

PB | Official accredited Breslau Press