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Central Europe Rally Special-Newssection (1st round Dakar-Series 2008)

This is the single-news section of the special of the Central Europe Rally 2008, the first round of the new Dakar-Series. To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

Central Europe Rally: A unique field for a promising premiere.

Inaugural event of the "Dakar Series’’, a concept launched by A.S.O. in 2008 with the vocation to regroup under a same label several off-road rallies offering the same high standards in terms of participation, organisation and security as the Dakar, the Central Europe Rally will take off for its first edition on the 20th of April in Budapest, Hungary. Seven stages are planned via Baia Mare in Romania, and will take the 260 registered competitors (110 bikes, 19 quads, 91 cars and 40 trucks) to the shores of the Balaton Lake where the finish will take place on the 26th of April. A total of 2713 km, including 1092 timed kilometres will be covered on 11 specials.

Concerning the course, the terrain of this Grande Premiere in central Europe should be similar to the one witnessed during the first stages of the Dakar, in other words, rocky, abrupt and wavy in Hungary and then faster with some forest passages and maybe some snow in Romania. It’ll anyhow be comparable to the tracks used during the World Rally Championship. While navigation will not have the same importance than in the desert areas, the slightest mistake could be costly with gaps being extremely slim on rather short specials.

In these conditions, in the car class, the advantage will be logically given to the former WRC drivers, starting with the likes of Spaniard Carlos Sainz, World Rally champion in 1990 and 1992 who will be competing on the Central Europe Rally in one of the four Volkswagen Touareg registered by the Wolfsburg manufacturer. Against the VW armada, a new opus of the classic off-road battle with Mitsubishi should take place. With also four vehicles registered, including for the first time a diesel car, the Japanese brand will be counting on their huge experience of off-road events and that of their drivers, especially their leader, Stéphane Peterhansel and his 9 Dakar victories.

However, the outsiders will be numerous, starting with the BMW team led by Frenchman Bruno Saby and Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, 2006 World Rally champion in the production class. But also, Robby Gordon and his Hummer, the first American to win a stage in the greatest African Classic.

The show will also be mouth-watering in the bike race with the army of official KTMs at its best and especially the presence of the last two winners of the Dakar, Frenchman Cyril Desprès and Spaniard Marc Coma. Will also be present some of the best off-road specialists such as France’s David Casteu and David Frétigné, Norway’s Pal-Anders Ullevalseter or Portuguese bikers Helder Rodrigues and Ruben Faria. For the first time, the quad bikers will be competing in their own class.

Finally, concerning the truck race, Dutchman Hans Stacey, last winner of the Dakar will be the man to beat and will have to keep an eye out on Czech Republic’s Ales Loprais rather at ease on the type of terrain used by the Central Europe Rally. One shouldn’t forget Brazil’s Andre de Azevedo, always very fast when it comes to technical tracks.

This first edition promises to be a fantastic show in each of the different classes thanks to the presence of the best possible field of off-road champions, united for the only time of the year in one same event: the Central Europe Rally!

2008/04/19 | 23:42 CET | Editor: MR/HS/ASO

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