What a showdown in Sibiu, central Romania: The last of four Offroad Stages once again demands a 110% from everybody in the remaining field, with the strongest end at Andreas Lettenbichler and his BMW team. On the second place comes a still very satisfied Chris Birch, ahead of Andorran three times Red Bull Romaniacs winner Cyril Despres. This last stage caused a true eruption within the pro-field!
Another dry, hot summer-day in the Carpathian Mountains on Wednesday, August 19, was providing the stage of the final showdown of what’s considered as the World’s toughest Hard Enduro Rallye. And it literally brought an earthquake to the final standings!
Exhaustion after what lies behind the remaining riders was in the air, when at 08:00 the winner of the third stage, Brit Paul Bolton, opened the stage, and the high level of demands to the riders in the past days made them pay their dues immediately: While BMW rider and 2008 runner-up Gerhard Forster had to withdraw after a serious high speed crash at one of the faster sections, others, like Chris Birch simply had to suffer from exhaustion and had to stop several times within the technical sections, just in order to catch a breath. Others in the meantime, such as Cyril Despres, made strategic race errors which pushed them back in the field.
“You can’t imagine how stoked I am right now with this trophy in my hands! Our great team, the performance we all showed over the entire period of the race and finally: My first victory at my first ever Rallye! What more can I ask for?? I’m only sorry for my teammate Gerhard (Forster), with whom I’ve had such a great time out there and who got injured after a quite heavy crash before the service point today. He was in third, charging for second place when this happened, and that – another BMW man on the podium – would have just been the cream on the cake”, stated the charismatic 34 years old Bavarian from Kiefersfelden.
On second position, a true Romaniacs-veteran crossed the finish line: Kiwi Chris Birch, two times third on the podium already, stepped it up and became second this year. Still, he was more than satisfied with his performance: “I’m just very happy with this result, considering what I’ve had to go through over the last five days”, Birch said. “There are a million options out there to either wreck your bike or yourself, and it really takes all you have to not do so. This is the most valuable result I’ve ever achieved in my career!”
One person who did not succeed in his strategic plans was Cyril Despres, though. He did not try too hard to make the key section “Long Walk” by himself, turned around and went the chicken line, which brought him a gross penalty time of two hours and forty minutes. Due to the fact that winner Lettenbichler did make that hill, he only had to bring home the victory in a safe ride, leaving Despres helpless to catch up on such a huge virtual gap.
Organizer Martin Frenademetz’ recap was a positive one: “I think we’ve seen great riding throughout the last couple of days with great sportive value. Red Bull Romaniacs has delivered riding up to its standards and I think the riders in all classes were enjoying the tracks we’ve laid out. Thanks to the great weather it might have been a bit easier than last year, but hey: Even though it’s tough, we want our people to ride, rather than to push their bikes, anyway!”
Overall results, Pro class
- LETTENBICHLER Andreas – BMW G 450 X
- BIRCH Chris – KTM 300 EXC
- DESPRES Cyril – KTM 300 EXC
Overall results, Expert single class
- VAN DEN GOORBERGH Jurgen – Dutch Power
- GYENES Manuel – Vectra Racing
- DIETRICH Florian – BMW Touratech Racing
Overall results, Expert Team class
- CYPRIAN Zdenek, VOLNY Martin – Bodro Racing Czech 5
- KIRSCH Joe, KIRSCH Jeff – Enduro de Luxe
- DENISON Chris, SMITH Alexander – Team USA
Overall results, Hobby class
- BRAZINA Oldrich, LACH Jaromir – Bodro Racing
- KOHLMAIER Peter, NESUTA Peter – OMMA Old Men MX Assoc
- HEINZE Stefan, RAUCH Knut – H&R MC Ohrdruf
Links: Red Bull Romaniacs