|Hellas Rally: 200 teams and stars like Kinigadner, Fretigne, Pastori, Winter...|
The amateur rallyraid-sport becomes more and more interesting: Best proof is the "Hellas Rally Raid" in Greece, which will start today (Monday) evening (20:00 CET, 21:00 local time) with the official opening ceremony in the beautiful and historic port of Nafpaktos in the Lepanto region at the south-western coast of Greece.
Great and long stages, low starting fees and travelling costs, a familiar and less-restricted atmosphere attracted 200 competitors to start in the race - for example, the FIA and FIM "Sealine Rally" in Qatar in April only had 40 competitors - overall. In this year the event counts 124 Bikes, 13 quads, 10 SSV and 19 cars - plus 34 bikers who like to travel in the slower "raid"-category.
Competitors are coming from Austria, Australia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Israel, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom - a big mixed family.
Some years before, we mostly saw a strict separation between amateurs and professionals - but times are changing and the field of competitors is more and more mixed. In this year some very big names found their way to Greece especially in the Bikes.
Bikes: For example, FIM- and Dakar-experts David Fretigné from France, Prata Pedro Bianchi from Portugal, Patsy Quick (UK), Doron Winter (Israel) or Francesco Catanese (Italy) are competing against Enduro- or amateur-celebrities like Christian Pastori and Ugo Filosa (both Italy), Helly Frauwallner (Austria), Ondrej Klymciw (Croatia), David Petterson (Sweden) or rally-organizer Jiri Vasatko from the Czech Republic.
A special bike-story we will see with the participation of the two brothers Gregor Bloéb and Tobias Moretti from Austria: Both are not only brothers, both are very famous movie- and theatre actors in Austria, Germany and Switzerland - and both had a dream: To finish the "Africa Eco Race" on the tracks of the former Dakar rally. KTM-legend Heinz Kinigadner and Dakar-winner Cyril Despres gave them a detailed training - and with their first Marathonrally they reached the finish in Dakar/Senegal. Here in Greece they will start the first time again after the Africa Race.
Side-by-Side: Rally-organizer Meletis Stamatis is proud to have a very special team in the buggies-class. KTM-sport-boss Heinz Kinigadner will start himself in a Polaris RZR. He is supporting a very special project: The start of his paraplegic son Hannes Kinigadner and the paraplegic Reinhard Karner, both also from Austria, both with special prepared Polaris RZR racing-machines. "We don´t want to win - but we want to finish, that´s our dream" said Hannes Kinigadner. With this project they also want to support the "Wings for Life" project of Heinz Kinigadner and "Red Bull"-founder Dietrich Mateschitz.
Next to the Bulgarian "Dakar-Lady" Zornitsa Todorova and her pilot Cankov there will be also a former Dakar-Winner: Josef Machacek from the Czech Republic will start in a single-seater buggy.
Cars: It will be fast, very fast. The Dakar- and Silk-Way experts Pelichet/Decre from France will start with their Overdrive Toyota Hilux and fight against the not less experienced Israelians Heyman/Segal (Mitsubishi Proto), the "fast Greeks" Dimitriadis/Kalfas (Mitsubishi Pajero) and the Australian-Greek duo Jerie/Athanasiou in a former Factory Isuzu D-Max.
Next to some amateur-cars the rally has the FIA-prototypes of Camporese/Terranova, Cavinato/Lefebvre and Cangi/Manfredini from Italy or Nitzan/Dov, Aviv/Izhar and Shpira /Moldawsky from Israel. A "very special beast" is the Bulgarian Toyota Hilux of Cholakov/Granchev. It looks like an Overdrive Toyota, it sounds like an Overdrive Toyota, it is as fast as an Overdrive Toyota. But made in Bulgaria.
Quads: Last but not least we also have some interesting names in the quads: Martin Plechaty from Croatia, Eddy Jerak from Slovenia, Jan Foppen from Holland, Sebastien Souday from France...
Six days in the mountains, forests and rivers of the Lepanto-region, 1,786 kilometers to go, one central bivouak in the city of Nafpaktos - the Hellas Rally Raid 2014 is ready to start!
2014/05/05 | 15:37 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS