|Cooper 24H Greece TICKER: Show start in Athens, lucky dog, unlucky Solyom.|
The race has started: On midday the 8th "Cooper 24 Hours Off Road of Greece" started in the center of Athens near the Parliament and the legendary "Acropolis".
To prevent rumours - the city is pulsating, living, with friendly people and Police, no demonstrations or riots. Everything looks perfect. Some thousand people joined the official showstart, visited the City-paddock and listened the official briefing, which was held "public".
During all the participants and spectators, a big wild dog played the role of the "secret star"... He controlled all (!) participants, was friendly to them - until they started the engines. Every participant get "his personal bark", the audience laughed and feeded the dog with goodies. So he started "full show" and entered the big stage - the audience laughed...
But, back to the Sport. After the showstart the participants had to drive a liaison about 25 kms in direction North. Nearly the village "Agios Stefanos" the organizers based the official the start of the SS01 (of five SS´ overall). The first stage was/is very fast, many stony tracks, some small water-crossings.
Very bad day for the Hungarian Oliver Solyom. During the Showstart the "HawKia" (Kia Sportage Proto) crew was highly motivated, "ready to fight". But after only six kilometers the car stopped on the highway - electrical problems. "That´s demotivating" said Solyom in the first Camp. "We will see. Our crew is trying to repair the car, then we hopefully are allowed to re-start, maybe in a later point of the roadbook. We will see. This was not our plan."
Only some kilometers later, the second car "stranded" - the Mitsubishi Pajero V20 of the Greek "Free Sunday Team". The gearshift broke, so they stopped and took a simple screwdriver to continue. "But this didn´t really work" told driver Christos Anastasopoulos, "so we had to stop and drove out of the track to the first servicepoint." The team waited for spare-parts, since 1,5 hours they are repairing in the camp.
Until 17:30 CET only two (!) competitors reached the first service-camp (1,5 hours to rest and repair): The motobike No.3 with No.3 Dimitris "Doc" Athanasoukupoulos and the quad of the "old Greek" Chris "CBI" Stampoltzis. "Wow, I´m totally happy, I´m the first quad and second participant overall. It´s a great race!"
Good points for the organisation: "The Roadbooks are great, very exact" reported Mitsubishi driver Christos Anastasopoulos. "Only the rocks are hard - a real competition for our suspension-system."
Also the Servicecamp itself is very special - we´ve never seen something like that. The camp is on a Highway Trucker Station, clever between the official (Highway)-Catering (which was partly especially organized for the participants), a fuel station and a big garage - if the own service can´t help anymore.
The night will be long: At 19:30 CET the first bike should reach the 3rd photopoint in SS02, only some kilometers before the restart. But until now, most of the participants even not finished the first of five stages...
2011/11/26 | 17:41 CET | PICTURES: MR/HS