BALKAN CLASSIC RALLYE
10th - 17th September 2016
More than 2000 kilometres on dirt roads, gravel and mountain tracks make the Balkan Classic Rallye a special event. Mountains, hills, valleys and the beach of the Black Sea – to master the Balkan Classic Rallye you have to do it all, and fast. The Bulgarian landscape is an incredible backdrop for racing, with fantastic panorama’s, lush forests and an extensive network of dirt roads.
Crossing Bulgaria from the west to the east, from the mountains to the plains, from the city centre of Sofia to Long Beach, after eight days of racing the first edition of the Balkan Classic Rallye has finished Saturday September the 17th 2016 with Andrew Siddal & Andy Bull in their Safari spec Datsun 260z on the first place.
Andrew Siddal wins the race with clever thinking, fast driving and a good understanding of the terrain and the navigation. ‘It is my first win in my historic rally career, and at such a fantastic event!’ he said at the finish line. ‘In the Balkan Classic you have to think while you are racing and make sure you do everything right!’
Organiser Alexander Kovatchev is delighted with the entry list to this first edition of the Balkan Classic Rallye. ‘We started it after a phone call from Ewald Holler, as an experiment. Can you imagine our surprise when we received entries from all around the world, as far as South Africa, Argentina and Kenya?’
‘This week I have learned a lot more about classic rally cars and historic racing. The service teams told me that after the FIA spec and the Safari spec they will now introduce a ‘Balkan spec’ for the classic rally cars,’ Alexander Kovatchev said during the price giving ceremony. ‘And for sure we will organise a second edition next year, as the historic racing scene has found a place in our hearts!’’
Starting today in front of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia the competitors of the Balkan Classic Rallye had their first encounter on Bulgarian soil. Going straight from the city into the mountains, the difference between city life and rally cannot be bigger.
Krasen Kralev, the Bulgarian Minister of Youth and Sports opened the Balkan Classic Rallye today in Sofia, welcoming competitors from all over the world to this unique event. Broadcasted on Bulgarian Television, the show start is the moment of glory and the final start of the Balkan Classic Rallye, with 8 days of racing.
It was not an easy start for the Classic cars, with the riders and the organisation adjusting – to the terrain, the navigation and the speed of these fantastic vehicles. ‘Today I saw what a classic rally car can do on a stage and I am impressed,’ says Race Director Alexander Kovatchev, who directly applies the results from today in tomorrows stage.
The navigation in the Balkan Classic is based on the familiar tulips, but for many rally drivers running a stage without pacenotes is an interesting experience. Roman Madera: ’Sometimes it is hard to recognise the situations in the road book, but the information is 100% correct.’ Having to drive on sight and on the brief info you find in the road book can be quite a challenge. Still most of the teams manage to find their way.
Passing through the Rhodopian Mountains, the Balkan Classic Rallye says goodbye to the high mountains and heads east to the second bivouac in Starosel. ‘Thank you for the lovely route and the beautiful views!’ says Martin Schlinke, co-driver of Ewald Holler from Austria.
Andrew Siddal and Geoff Bell has shown the capabilities of their Datsuns, jumping and racing on the tough terrain here in Bulgaria. Ondrej Coufal from Czech is currently third, with little over 4 minutes lead on Jan Hagman and Annie Seel in their little red Ford Escort.
After several difficult stages in the mountains the Balkan Classic Rallye has arrived in the area where the Classic cars shine most. With fast stages, long straights and open corners the cars are flying across the dirt roads, touching 200kmh on the GPS..
Experience counts and Jan Hagman makes good use of it as his co-driver Annie Seels knows her job. Adapting to the changing terrain, they were able to reach the fourth place overall and if luck is on their side they have a good chance for the podium.
Ewald Holler arrives at the finish each day with a smile on his face. With his Toyota Corolla he is able to drive fast, reach the finish line and enjoy the road book. Competing with Jonathan Savage (Datsun) and Francois Lethier (Peugeot) he makes good use of the reliability of his classic Toyota.
Speed is essential for Bernard Munster, who reached 197km/h on the GPS in the fifth stage. Winning stage after stage only the mechanical problems of the first day keep him off the podium. Seeing the Porsche on the tracks in the Balkan Classic Rallye is a dream – and there are three more stages to come!
Participating in the Balkan Classic Rallye is open for everyone with a classic rally car, but a place on the podium is reserved for those who can handle the marathon. Whatever your category, everything has to be right: vehicle, navigation, assistance and of course a bit of luck.