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From cold lakes of Karelia to the Morocco sands - a Polish Rally success story.

From Pawel Roslon: Thousands of kilometers travelled over the tracts of Europe and Africa, hundreds of terrain obstacles, endless Russian settlements, months spent in the workshop, days of travelling and special stages: This is a short summary of the past year.

The Polish rally- and offroad-experts Marcin Lukaszewski and Magdalena Duhanik spent no less than 57 days at 12 different rally events.

2011 Season, as experienced by the "Off-roadsport team", proved very successful. The sporting ambitions have fully been realized. The Lukaszewski/Duhanik duo competed successfully at international events, evoked applause in the crowds and won the top podium step six times. The maintenance team worked professionally, the car proved to be a great design, and the entire crew harmonized logistically.

Sweet victories motivated to even greater efforts, not more than the bitter taste of defeat. One thing that is clear is that a very busy year has come to an end, and the preparations for the next season are in full swing.

2012 season promises to be equally busy and the plans appear to be even more ambitious. The works at the workshop are accompanied by intensive search for sponsors, necessary for the realization of the assumptions.

Calendar of events is now being settled upon. There are plans for Polish and foreign event starts. The Ladoga Trophy rally is a must-go, the place where the team has personal score to settle with the wild and boundless lands of Russia.

But let´s have a "view back". The Great Escape Rally (GER, Poland) - the "Big Test". The team was to be a start of the new season and the premiere for the new car.

The team reports: We started driving a freshly built car, completely different from the previous one. The main assumption in Zagan (Poland) was the tests under the rally conditions. It did turn out this way, even more so, since the event was not truly competitive.

For most participants it was a warm-up after the winter season. We concentrated on checking the durability of the car's elements, practiced navigation and explored the Zagan military grounds, the arena of a few stages of the Breslau Rally. At the same time, we moved from the formula of pure adventure to marathon/adventure one with elements of Cross Country.

Our preliminary plans for the 2011 year did not include MT Rally (Poland). But after the tests at the GER we found, that it is a great sporting occasion to line up with the competition and also to learn about the further areas where the "Breslau Rally" takes place. Right from the start, we accelerated, it was going great, we did not make any major errors in navigation, the car was excellent - as a result we were ahead of the competition.

The Croatia Trophy - "Best journey, Mortadella, Pizza and Dots..." It was supposed to be the conquest of Europe, but ended up as hare and hounds and an adventure for a very high price. This was the most expensive trip in the season; it absorbed a lot of time and preparation.

Great terrain, considerable competition field from across Europe, a colored society in the camp, but the formula of the event and the difficulty level of the routes were disappointing. We were expecting driving in the mountains, climbs and traverses, but in reality we travelled as tourists in a motorcade, together seeking dots on trees. We decided to withdraw from the rally.

During this edition our dream of defending last year's Off-Road Cup of Poland title and another success burst like a bubble. We were going great, but, alas: Deep water, a mechanic's oversight and under we went.

It turned out that during the tests of the new computer, prior to the race, the computer's casing was not properly sealed. The drying lasted very long; after that, at a sprinter's pace we covered the rest of the route and just before the time limit we found ourselves at the finish line. Very bad memories.

There even was no time to celebrate our victory at the Magam Trophy, but we'll come back to it later. You can say, from the beginning we were doing good, we worked up a lead that we only enlarged later. The fight was joined by: Robert Kufel, Artur Owczarek, Maciej Manejkowski, Pawel Kado and Zbyszek Pelczynski.

A great event, great organization, simply a classic of the adventure category of rallies. Five days of struggle against the terrain, the equipment, the rivals. It was a very dynamic race. We maintained an even pace; we kept the back of the field in the check and safely made it to the finish line. My head, however, kept playing the tune of what was going to happen in two days' time. After a brief feast, we flew away to Russia the next morning.

Russia´s Ladoga Trophy - "White nights and ... bears!" State-of-the-art logistic endeavor. After the completion of the last stage of Magam Trophy, the car was washed, packed on the trailer, and was driven away to St. Petersburg together with the maintenance crew.

On the one hand, Ladoga Trophy is the legendary rally that has always been a dream for us, but on the other, an oriental adventure brought about by the terrain and rivals' equipment. Ever since we became interested in off-road, we were under the spell of the Russian legend. A really cool rally, heavy terrain, boundless swamps. Floating fields a dozen kilometers large and the peat bogs are simply indescribable.

Everything was huge, typically for Russia. Each day we were in for a different treat: Rocks, mud, bogs, meadows, mountains, gorges - it was very interesting. Great atmosphere, good organization and unfortunately bad luck at the end.

The last day, 3 kms before the finish, the pittman arm of the steering gear broke and we lost chances for the 2nd place. Despite the failure, we have pleasant memories. The terrain, climate, support, the atmosphere and the landscapes were simply fantastic.

The Breslau Rally - "The first start and win." The restoration of the car and rest after the previous event could take no more than 10 days. Another very important and prestigious rally required complex logistics and solid preparation. This event had been in the back of our heads since the very beginning of the season.

The starts in the GER and MT were merely a recon, learning the military grounds (same like in Breslau Rally), practicing fast driving and navigation. Momentum and competition that we had never encountered before. In this "European Dakar" (such terms do exist) there are professional international teams starting, well-equipped with a solid maintenance facilities.

Our aim was, of course, to win the first place. We started with some nervous commotion due to the moving camp a few times for organizational reasons but the real competition soon began. We didn't know what to expect, how the unknown crews will drive, so we related to the results of the favorites of the previous editions - Robert Kufel and Pawel Oleszczak.

We were running smoothly, quickly and sensibly. The rivals kept bumping into failures, but our lead was slowly growing. We were winning individual stages and we managed to bring a clear victory right to the finish line.

We experienced a sample of a marathon style Cross Country, where each mistake had a high price tag attached. The victory in this international rally provided us with lots of joy, we were happy to have proudly represented the Polish group in the Europe-wide field.

In the Cup of Poland Off-road, 2nd round in Choczewo, we went very well. We won the night stage and during the day we easily outran the field because we were the only team to have completed the entire route. The toughest edition so far, the time limits were strict, which is attested by the fact that we managed to finish the race limit just 30 minutes short of the limit.

It was the most demanding and most adventure-packed round. I remember a situation, when after launch day (we were the first to start the stage) we entered a deep bog, with another car already glued there. It turned out that the crew stuck there during the night stage - which means they spent almost 10 hours in the swamp. It somehow illustrates the nature of the qualification in Choczewo.

At the Baja Poland we had the first time to "race against Peterhansel and Holowczyc." We have just the nice memories from Szczecin. The car made it and the results turned out good. We won the Open Class, which for regulatory reasons was not included in the general classification, but comparing our results, we would have won the 6th place in the general classification.

We recorded some pretty good times, and this bodes well for the future. The formula of the competition is strictly determined by the regulations; the participants can focus on racing, which gives the event the quintessence of competition. To sum it up, a great race and a good result.

The Cup of Poland Off-road, 3rd Round Olsztyn - "A race at home." The Olsztyn round was interesting, rich in beautiful gravel roads, sand pits, water-soaked terrains and traverses. According to all calculations, to win the Cup of the season, we would have to get the first place in this round, and our greatest rival, Robert Kufel, would have to be the third at most.

We won the prologue, but at night, starting as the first crew, we lost a lot of valuable time finding our way. As a consequence, we took the 2nd place ex aequo with two other teams, the fact that deprived us of precious points. Despite winning the day stage, we didn't manage to win the round and thus took the second place in the race and the general classification of the 3rd edition of Cup of Poland.

The second round of the "MT Rallys", the MT Series (Poland) was formally unplanned, but turned out to be lucky. We won all the specials, which gave us the first place in the general classification.

The routes on Drawsko military grounds are really varied and interesting. One moment you're going along a tank path, the next a bumpy forest path, or over very fast and curvy stretches between trees. The short water-boggy crossings made the route even more varied. The perfect organization and the international participant list make the rally created by the "MT team" an exceptional sporting event.

Finally, in the RMF Morocco Challenge, we saw the sand! A few times we had the opportunity to ride the terrains that were once the special stages of the Dakar Rally. Dunes, sand, rocky mountains, long connections: All of it was a novelty.

Our Sam-Evo 3 is not exactly made to handle this type of terrain. Connections of many kilometers and hard rock ground verified, repeatedly, the car built on the stiff axles with the suspension hard-tuned. We were mesmerized by the dunes; we rode them for three days, and even one more day, out of schedule.

There is something beautiful and very unique in them; you need to be sensitive with the acceleration and the dynamics so you don't get buried up or land wheels-up. This is like rolling the wheels along heavy and tightly-taped traverses. Another new experience, perhaps bringing about fruit in the future.

More informations about the team, picturs and videos you can find at the official website [ OFF-ROADSPORT.PL ] and at the official profile on Facebook.

2012/02/20 | 14:03 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/ROSLON/TEAM

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