|Rally Albania: From 0 to 1440 to 0 - impressive landscape on Saturday.|
"Rally Albania" is well known for its toughness - and also the varying landscape. The event started on Friday with a 5 km prologue near the beach of the city of Durres in the northwest of Albania...and continued with the first real stage on Saturday.
The competitors had to manage 180 kms liasion (split in three liaisons with a service-park during the stages) and 130 kms timed section, split in two stages in an area near of the Albanian capital Tirana.
The organizers keep their promises and brought the competitors different levels even on the first day. The stage started on "Altitude 0" in the city of Durres - and immediately it went up to 1440 meters altitude in a fast and stony first stage.
After a second liaison the participants started in the second stage with green hills, muddy forests and again more then 1400 meters altitude - and then finally back to Durres with "Altitude 0" again.
The weather was nice again... but varying between the different altitudes. Up to 28 degrees and burning sun in the valleys, cold wind, some raindrops and wet roads by 12 degrees in the mountains.
"This was an interesting day," reported Guillaume Martens from Switzerland, well known as second bike-winner in the "Africa Eco Race" 2013. "Because of a broken hand I got in the ´Tuareg Rally´ this year, at first I decided not to go so fast. But you know, when the rally virus has infected you... Because I missed the prologue on Friday I had to start in SS01 from the end, was overtaking many bikes, sometimes in dangerous ways because the slower drivers mostly are not counting with a much faster rider overtaking them... The first stage was very fast, the second more tricky. It was difficult, especially in the navigation."
In the bikes, Czech rider Ondrej Klymciw got the stage win and took the overall lead with his Husaberg in 02:52:30 hours, which was 2:29 minutes in front of the Italian Christian Pastori (Beta), Toomas Triisi from Estland (Honda, +10:15), Kalat Kjiri from the Czech Republic (Yamaha, +11:15) and Sjoerd Remmelink from Holland (KTM, +15:53).
In the quads Martin Plechaty (E-ATV), also from the Czech Republic, won the stage and got in front with 02:59:42 hours, followed by Alex Brusslers (NL, E-ATV, +12:30), "Dakar-Lady" Zornica Todorova from Bulgaria (Yamaha, +12:38), Edward Jerak from Slovenia (Arctic Cat, +20:06) and Petrus van Eerd (NL, KTM, +01:08:29).
In the cars we saw a heavy battle in the front just in the beginning of the race. Last year´s winning team Sina/Wittberger (Albania/Austria) pushed the pedal of their Toyota Land Cruiser Proto and set a time of 03:01:09, even faster then most of the bikes and quads - and got the stage win.
But they were not alone in the "there is no tomorrow" category... The Jeep Cherokee of the Albanians Marku / Flamuri started some positions after the leaders - and went second with a 7:36 minute gap, pushing their Jeep heavily and were drifting even in the heavy stones. Third became Dervishaj / Papuli from Albania, also driving with a Toyota Land Cruiser (+10:52).
Best foreigner team was the crew Foschi / Menghini from Italy with their Nissan Patrol GR in fifth place (+20:46) behind the locals Shkreta / Feka (Toyota, +16:05). As always, an impressive show was made by the Czech former Dakar winner Josef Machacek: He pushed his little Hayabusa-singleseater buggy even through the mud and stones and finished 6th with 23:21 mins gap.
"This was a funny day," reported Dolly Wittberger from Austria, navigating in the leading Toyota. "We lost some time because of a broken tire. This is normal here, but we couldn´t find out where and why it happened. So after we changed the tire, there was a big piece of wood inside which nearly cut it... we maybe picked it up somewhere in the muddy region..." But they were lucky: A damaged tire was also the reason why both following cars did not take the overall lead...
A bad day - but with luck in the end - had the Polish crew Janaszkiewicz / Janaszkiewicz, well known from the Malaysian "Rainforest Challenge". They pushed their V8-T1 Land Rover Discovery too hard and broke the front differential. After they were towed to the sevice point, the crew could fix the damage... but too late to meet their latest start time.
But the Polish couple wanted to start; they called the organization and asked them again and again... And now something happened that is only possible in amateur races: The organization decided to let them start, even if the CP´s were not in the stage anymore. "We will follow you in the tracking system, you will get penalty - but you can start." And: They made it. Late in the evening, amid the darkness, they reached the camp, smiling, happy, with a working car. "Thanks," they laughed, "this was a really special experience!"
2013/06/09 | 19:01 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS