The six-day Balkan Offroad Rally will start on Sunday in Romania, where the CFMOTO Thunder Racing Team has already set off. It's not the first time the team's quad riders will compete in this event, but it's going to be a tense situation ahead of the start, with both riders in the top positions in the overall RBI Grand Masters standings, and they'll need to do their best to hold on to them.
"It's going to be a very tough battle - all the competitors are very strong, even though there are not a lot of them at this stage. There is no shame in finishing last amongst these competitors," said Antanas Kanopkinas before the start.
He is second in the overall standings with 56 points, but Frenchman Gaetan Martinez is behind him with 55 points and Rafal Jawien from Poland in fourth place with 52 points.
"First, second and third place get 30, 25 and 20 points respectively, so it's clear that the battle will be fought at every kilometre, which for many athletes will mean not only a possible trophy on this stage, but also a position in the overall standings. The stakes for this stage are much higher than for the previous ones", said A. Kanopkinas.
Another CFMOTO Thunder Racing Team rider, Adomas Gančierius, is quite confidently in first place in the overall standings with 85 points before the start, but there is no way to relax.
"All things considered, I need to finish no lower than fifth to keep my lead. Considering the level of the competitors at the start line, it doesn't sound like an easy task," A. Gančierius said.
He said that just before leaving for Romania he got an autumn cold, so he will try to recover as much as possible before the start on Sunday, as a bad overall feeling of health reduces stamina and concentration, which is very important in this rally.
A whole bunch of different rally experiences
Over the next week, the Balkan Offroad Rally will feature one qualifying stage and five days of sportive driving. Organisers say that Romania is a particularly favourable country for this type of event, with a wide variety of road surfaces to be experienced during the week.
The athletes will have to navigate both mountains and plains using a road book, and each day will be accompanied by spectacular scenery. While this only makes the rally more exciting for the spectators, the CFMOTO Thunder Racing Team athletes make no secret of the fact that mountainous and extremely beautiful terrain usually only means more fatigue and a higher chance of mistakes during the race, but it is exactly the kind of challenge the team is preparing for.