Red Bull Romaniacs 2007 Report
File under Racing
Author: Mike Werner
Location: Normandy, France
KING CYRIL AND HIS RETINUE
4th Red Bull Romaniacs Hard Enduro Rally, 17 - 21 June 2007
Totally passionate about off road? Want the opportunity to test your limitations? – Have you a mental attitude that combines, determination, strength, energy, success, then you are ready for the hell ride in the manner of the world famous Red Bull Romaniacs Hard Enduro Rally.
The terrain, the pure quality of the tracks and the challenge is unchanged since the first edition.
The facts that Cyril Despres, an expert in this field, won once again while only half of the participants reached the finish line answers many questions.
Sunday, 17 June 2007 – in the city center of Sibiu, the European Capital of Culture. The German Chris Pfeiffer, the world’s first indoor street bike freestyle world champion, opened the fourth edition of the Red Bull Romaniacs Hard Enduro Rallye with his breathtaking show in the city center of Sibiu. After having watched his performance on the heavy BMW machine the more than 9.500 spectators were excited and ready for the kick off: tree trunks, car wrecks, wall rides, wooden ramps and stairs - the hard facts of the prologue and playground for the 135 participants.
Right after the show the riders had the possibility to let off steam and introduce themselves to the spectators. First obstacles, first difficulties - some sections were simply unmanageable for some of the hobby and expert class and the fifteen minutes of the race harder than expected. It was not only the hot weather that made the riders sweat. “Chicken lines” or going over obstacles – several duels were decided along with that decision. The excited crowd of spectators had to wait for the pro riders to finally see all the obstacles “conquered”. After twenty minutes of racing it was Cyril Despres (FRA) to have finished most laps, followed by Paul Bolton (GBR) and Dutchman Frans Verhoeven. “Winning this leg, however, is only taken into account for the starting position tomorrow and not for the overall standings, but it was very important for me personally.”
After warming up the riders started their first of the four off road days through the Romanian Carpathians. Three different classes, three different routes and riders from 20 different nations, but one thing they all had in common - before the start at seven o’clock on Monday morning, none of them knew exactly what to expect from the first off road day. But it would not take them too long to learn that Romanian soil is as hard and unfriendly as anywhere else on this planet. Bikes got stuck, riders hot and bothered, mud was everywhere and helping hands also at the spectators’ points – a scenario that would be repeated endlessly over the next three days. Where the professionals had passed without any problems, the following expert and hobby team riders encountered the first difficulties: brakes not working properly, overheated engines and aching muscles. “My brakes haven’t worked probably today; we had to stop to repair them. Now everything is ok again and we even saved some time. A good day for us”, reported Harald Vollmer from Germany. In the course of this race he would experience other similar days together with his team colleague to finally be placed third in the overall standings – behind the two Romanian teams “x riders 1” Ciprian Popescu and Babes Cristanel and “KUNN Racing” Benedefki Geza and Gereb Domokos.
The first of more than 150 kilos of KTM track tape, which had been set up by the organiser Martin Freinademetz – Austrian snowboard legend and Rally Dakar Finisher – and his crew during months of work along the route, have been successfully negotiated by the riders on the first off road stage. The first day was followed by three further off road days – each of them about 190 km long (190 km on the pro track, 160 km for experts, 140 km for hobby riders) – Sibiu always served as the starting and finishing point.
Who thinks that only the first day was full of surprises doesn’t know the place and underestimates the organiser of the rally. Snow passages on an altitude of over 2,000 m, “Emil Rocks”, a short and tough Erzbergrodeo style rock section, 60° steep descents or a balancing act over a see-saw above a river – just to mention a few of the specialities of Red Bull Romaniacs Hard Enduro Rally.
On these points, also designated as spectators’ points, the challenges turned into a mudbath and got really dramatic. Put the chain into the right place again when half of the bike had sunken into the mud or keep the bike going after a long bath in the river bikes – those who conquer these challenges deserve to remain in the race, to cross the finish line and to be part of the 66 finishers (15 professionals, 26 experts and 25 hobby riders). “I started together with a Romanian friend, not because of home advantage – the terrain would be too vast anyway, it was about actually reaching the finish line by the help of teamwork,” said Simon Crafar, the former superbike pro racer from New Zealand. With his team colleague Mirel Pandrea he won the race in the expert class, in front of Aron Gorog/Michel Dumoulin (ROM/BEL) and the “Bayern-Express” Sepp Suttner/Stefan Zwerenz (GER).
Although Cyril Despres had already announced before the race that he would come to Romania to win – the fact how he actually won was still surprising.
Prologue: Victory for Cyril Despres. Day 1: Victory for Gau. Day 2: Despres second, three places in front of Gau. Day 3: Victory for Gau. For four days Cyril Despres and his countryman Michel Gau had been fighting hard for the victory at the fourth edition of the Red Bull Romaniacs. So far they have been the only ones to have the possibility to take top honours. Until the final stage on 21 June: Gau dared too much, slipped on a piece of wood and broke his right arm. Cyril Despres immediately stopped and stayed with his hardest opponent until the first aid arrived. – „In this moment I didn’t care about the race, we are friends first!“ he said and spoke in high terms of the organisers and the first aid: “I have never thought that they could be on the spot so fast in case of an accident in the deepest Carpathian woods.“ For the first time in this rally four riders needed help from the mountain rescue team and physicians, who were taken to the place of the accident by emergency vehicles the fastest way. After 2004 and 2005 Cyril Despres won the Red Bull Romaniacs already for the third time – thus the victory was on his side three out of four times. The German Gerhard Forster was second, the New Zealander Chris Birch, who is especially proud of his victory at the third stage, finished third overall: "I am extremely stoked that I was faster than Cyril Despres! Nobody is going to believe me! He is kind of my idol and I have his poster at home". Aged 19 the US-American Kyle Redmond was the youngest rider in the professional class. In Romania he could show his talent and was placed fourth, in front of Alex Antor (AND), who was third last year. The Dutchman Frans Verhoeven, Despres’ team mate at the Dakar 2007, had stomach problems for two days and crossed the finish line in sixth position, in front of the best Austrian Dieter Happ.
Dieter Happ (c) Peter_Mathis
At the fourth edition of the Red Bull Romaniacs the riders had to pass up to 750km through the off road jungle around Sibiu/Hermannstadt and about 50,000 m altitude difference. However, the riders had soon forgotten about strenuous ascents and tricky serpentine roads when they were able to enjoy the view of the surrounding Fagaras Mountains on the high plateaus or when they were going on high speed sections. 20h13 on the bike for the fastest pro rider and 52h39 (including time penalties) for the last expert team. “The weather was fine during the whole rally. If it had rained once even the pros wouldn’t have finished before sunset”, reports Martin Freinademetz. If even with perfect weather condition things happened to the riders “we did not dare to think of, before the race” (Jürgen Zeiler & Karl Potzl, AUT, Hobby), the question has to be: “What will follow?” - Definitely a fifth edition of the Red Bull Romaniacs 2008 has to answer this question.
1. Cyril Despres FRA 20:13:42
2. Gerhard Forster GER 20:51:42
3. Chris Birch NZL 20:54:43
4. Kyle Redmond USA 21:20:53
5. Alex Antor AND 21:59:18
6. Frans Verhoeven NED 22:29:31
7. Dieter Happ AUT 22:53:48
1. Simon Crafar/Pandrea Mirel NZL/ROM 27:16:38
2. Aron Gorog/Michel Dumoulin ROM/BEL 27:27:24
3. Sepp Suttner/Stefan Zwerenz GER 28:57:33
4. Nick Plumb/Craig Bounds GBR 33:20:22
5. Erik Mocker/Oliver Mocker AUT 33:27:28
1. Ciprian Popescu/Babes Cristinel ROM 19:59:46
2. Benedefki Geza/Gereb Domokos ROM 20:50:21
3. Marc Fehrmann/Harald Vollmer GER 21:02:52
4. Ivo Cotterchio/Joe Kirsch LUX 21:02:58
5. Karl Potzl/Jürgen Zeiler AUT 21:33:66
Complete results on www.redbullromaniacs.com