The Rallye Breslau Poland 2017: the endurance rally
Finishing in Drawsko Pomorski after 8 days of racing, the Rallye Breslau Poland 2017 has come to an end. Those who finished showed true endurance and perseverance. In the forest, everyone is equal and has the same track, roadbook and distance to cover. But who managed to finish and win the most accessible and perhaps most enduring rally in Europe?
Starting in Drawsko Pomorski with two stages as a ‘warm up’ on monday the rally moved to Sczecinek. A fantastic bivouac along the lake at Gwda Wielka invited everyone for a swim, and with tracks through lush forests this region showed incredible potential for offroad racing. After three days the teams went back on wednesday for the nightstage in Drawsko and for four more stages on the immense and ever-changing Polygon.
Several classes allow for competition among equals. The biggest division is between the ‘Extreme’ and ‘Cross Country’ class - a difference between trophy and speed that is often difficult to explain to newcomers but logical for those who know the history of the Breslau. New this year is the limited category for standard vehicles that allows for true ‘adventurous driving’ with a near standard vehicle.
The route preparation this year was tough and two weeks before the race the itinerary changed for the last time. ‘Every year it is a puzzle to organise the Rallye Breslau Poland,’ says Alexander Kovatchev. ‘This year we gained fantastic new routes around Sczecinek, with unparalleled scenery, but also we lost the first days in Biedrusko due to last moment military movements. But we keep trying, and in 2018 we will race again!’
The winners in Cross Country Class:
Rico van der Sanden, motorbike rider from the Netherlands has won his class by 31 seconds, a close call after so many kilometers. At the start of the last day he was second, but after the stage he could finish ahead of his Polish competitor and friend Michael Latoch, a big triumph for the Dutchman who loves to ride in the sand.
Andrzej Pieron, one of the experienced quadriders from Poland scored a two hour lead when the Danish Nikke Harkjaer broke down on the second day. During the race he just managed to keep it, keeping the trophy for Quad Cross Country in Poland and finishing 8 minutes and 44 seconds ahead of the Dane!
Battling with French, German and Dutch competitors, the experienced Artur Pesta from Poland debuts in the SSV Cross Country class and wins with a clear victory. Preparation, speed and a big heart - the small Polaris was often amoung the fastest competitors on the stage.
Gilles Girousse takes his first Breslau win, on the 20th participation. Being the first French racer he opened the race for his fellow competitors, and on this tough and wet edition he is the fastest competitor in the Cross Country Car limited class, a perfect way to celebrate the anniversary!
In rally the goal is to run a ‘clean day’ without breakdowns and problems. But what happens if the race is difficult for everyone? Then ingenuity, luck and fair play become more important and this was the case in Car Cross Country. With three Bowler vehicles on the podium, the Frysian brothers Sietse and Klaas Ronner took the win by 8.31m!
The fastest 4x4 vehicle this year was a small truck, driven by Udo Heidenreich, Herman Schmidt and Jan Borzym, who finished with a total of 27 hours, 40 minutes and 45 seconds, ahead of the competition in all other classes except ATV and Motorbikes.
Vaclav Svoboda, Zdenek Novak and Milan Drazda are unbeatable in their Tatra 815. They learned about the Breslau through the late Klaus P. Kessler, and their truck and skills were perfect for the tough terrain and endurance in this edition.
The Winners in the Extreme Class:
Adventurous is the participation of the motorbike and ATV riders in Extreme Class, hardcore offroaders like Remy Kusy and Bart van Mieghem who choose an extreme ride in favour of the classic rallyraid format. Crossing the swamps in Poland requires cooperation and fair play, displayed also by Nicolas Floutard (2nd ATV Extreme), who offered a replacement gearbox to Remy Kusy, his direct opponent.
Car Extreme ‘Limited’ is the new adventure class for those who race a standard vehicle equipped with a winch. Didier Chauvot and Andre Ferrari from France take the win after a week-long battle with Chris and Willem van der Veken from Belgium, sharing parts and pleasure on the way.
There are few races that contributed so much to grass roots vehicle development as the Breslau and Extreme Class winner Jarek Andrejewksi races one of these beauties: fast, tough, equipped with a winch and waterproof all round - there is no way to beat these fantastic cars.
With all the fast Unimog teams present, the small truck category was a battle for minutes and seconds. Steffen Braun wanted to achieve the victory and after a week nose-to-nose with last years’ winners Joris Peumans and Maarten de Boer he was able to secure his lead and win the trophy!
After losing the engine last year the team of Kay Messner took their time to prepare for this edition. Winning stage after stage they were able to control the race right from the start. With luck in choosing their lines through the swamps they stayed well ahead of the competition in a landslide victory in the big truck class.
Winning is not everything
Behind the winners on the podium are many competitors who keep racing each day, who take a beating and stand up again. It’s about spirit and perseverance. Willy Wientjes is one of the oldest competitors on the motorbike and he got stuck in the torrential rains on SS7. After being pulled out of the stage by a fellow competitor he repaired his engine during the night and started again on Saturday, in order to finish the Rallye Breslau Poland 2017!