On the seventh of June, many riders, especially those planning to take part in next year's Dakar Rally, were preparing to start at the Rally Andalucía. This rally is special because motorcycle and quad riders who finish in Andalusia are given the green light to participate in the Dakar, as only the desire to compete in the world's toughest race is not enough.
A week before the start, the organisers unexpectedly announced that the rally was cancelled due to the high risk of fires in the region and would take place in the autumn of this year, although the dates are not yet clear. With just one week to go, the sad news has not stopped those riders with petrol running through their veins, as the CFMOTO Thunder Racing Team is already solving logistical puzzles and packing their bags for Rally Albania, which takes place from 4-11 June.
Getting ready for the Dakar
Just one day before the cancellation of the Rally Andalucía, the CFMOTO Thunder Racing Team revealed its plans for the Dakar Rally. Quad riders Adomas Gančierius and Antanas Kanopkinas started this year's season with a bang at Fenix Rally, and have so far consistently pursued their goal of at least 30 days of rallying per year. This goal is far from unnecessary - each rally day allows the athletes to get in better shape, gain even more experience in both navigation and driving, and also to test out the new technical components that the manufacturer sometimes provides to the team for this very purpose - to be tested under extreme conditions.
Every day of rallying is a preparation for the upcoming Dakar Rally, and a successful finish in Andalusia was to be the ticket to Saudi Arabia. But an unexpected change in the rally calendar left the team undaunted, and before they had even finished a cup of coffee, they decided to change their route and start in Albania, where the rally starts in just four days' time, next Saturday.
"Never give up. That's what I do on the track and in life. When we found out that the Rally Andalucía was cancelled, we didn't think for a long time what to do. The quads and all the necessary parts are already loaded and ready for the start, so we haven't given up the idea to start, but we've changed our plans a little and will be at the start line in Albania on 4th of June. It's true that all the logistics are still to be worked out, but I have no doubt that we will get it all sorted out," said A. Kanopkinas of the very quick change of plans.
This will be the second start in Albania for the athlete. A. Kanopkinas took home the title of the winner in the quad category of this rally in 2021. The athlete makes no secret of the fact that he has set himself the highest goals before the start, but how it will turn out, he says, we will see only during the rally.
Registered on the last day
It may seem like a lucky coincidence that the cancelled rally was to be held at the same time as another rally relatively close by, but the team was also lucky that the rally was not cancelled at least a day later - the deadline for registering for Rally Albania is the last day of May. The team had to register for the rally and be approved by the organisers before they could solve the logistical puzzles to get the equipment to Albania before the start.
More than 130 participants will start on Saturday in the Adriatic port city of Durres, where they will be greeted by the opening ceremony and a short prologue, before the race starts on Sunday. On the first day of the rally, the riders will have to cover 290 kilometres and over 2,000 km over the seven days of the rally. On 11 June, the athletes will cross the finishing arch in Tirana, the capital of Albania.
Throughout the week, the competitors will have to tackle a variety of different types of routes, with extremely mountainous terrain making the race even more difficult. One of the CFMOTO Thunder Racing Team riders, Adomas Gančieris, who will also be making his second start in Albania, says that the more challenging the tracks, the better: "It was a bit of a shock at first when we decided to change the rally we were going to start on such short notice, but when you want to race anything is possible. The mountains of Albania are an interesting and difficult challenge and the competition is also strong. We hope to keep up the good pace and bring back some good results."
The team invites everyone to follow them on social media and promises to tell as much as possible about how this rally, which has become a bit of an adventure, is going.