Since 1995 the legend continues without interruption. Breslau Poland is the most famous and extreme European off-road race. This year, with over 2000 km, has put a strain on its participants who until the end have fought for victory. Jim Marsden won the epic challenge in the Extreme category while the Cross Country was won by Grzegorz Brochocki.
Pictures Paolo Baraldi
Starting on the 30th of June 2018 in the city of Miastko, 150 teams participated in the marathon rally - Rallye Breslau Poland 2018 in the north part of Poland. The famous off-road rally in the heart of Europe started directly from the city of Miastko in the North East Pomerania, continued to Drawsko Pomorskie and finished in Gwda Wielka on the 7th of July.
Organised since 1995 the ‘Rallye Breslau’ has visited Munich, Berlin, Dresden, Wroclaw (PL) and this year Miastko (PL). The rally has built a reputation as the ‘Dakar of the north’, attracting competitors from all over Europe who come for an intense and international competition that offers a unique challenge in the off-road world.
The Rallye Breslau Poland has two main categories: the Dakar style ‘Cross Country’ and the ‘Extreme trophy” off-road category on difficult terrain with natural challenges typical for the landscape. Both are open for all types of off-road vehicles, from motorbikes to cars and trucks with a maximum of 4 axles. The ‘Breslau’ welcomes both professional and amateur teams. To participate all you need is just an off-road vehicle and adventure spirit, to win you first have to finish!
The heat is on from the first moment, as the competitors head from the city centre of Miastko into the forest for a tough day with three stages, near Bialy Bor and Czarne, finishing the day with a night stage in Drawsko Pomorskie. There is no pause as the competitors continue with four days in the dense forests and on the military training grounds near Drawsko, before moving to the last bivouac on the shore of the lake near Gwda Wielka.
Racing over 2000km within 8 days, which took the fastest competitors almost 30 hours in the special stages, proved that the road book is difficult and the terrain is tough. For the Cross Country category, the Rallye Breslau Poland is known as the biggest navigational challenge in Europe, and in the Extreme, the teams fear and enjoy the natural challenges offered by the Polish landscape.
Due to the drought of the last month, the forests and fields of Poland reminded the teams of the conditions in Africa and South America, with thick dust and fes-fes like sand. A thick road book and many challenges made the navigation difficult, and for the dust, there were only two solutions: either you overtake with your biggest heart or you stop completely to wait for the sky to clear.
In the Cross Country motorbike class the newcomer, Andreas Brunhold from Austria (#114) battled with the experienced Bernd von Osten from Germany (#4) - both with a completely different riding styles. Andreas is the new generation of bike riders, fast and furious. Bernd is solid, constant and the typical rider who is able to improvise and overcome all challenges without losing time - and this year the new generation took the lead, with Brunhold winning the Rallye Breslau Poland in the Enduro ‘Cross Country’ class.
Unique for the Rallye Breslau Poland is the Truck Extreme Class. Racing on military training grounds, the conditions are exactly right for the famous MAN KAT trucks also used by the German army. Kay Messner from Germany (#581) has won the Rallye Breslau Poland last year, and in spite of fierce competition from Germany and the Netherlands he is able to keep his position ahead of the field.
The Rallye Breslau Poland is the only rally raid in the heart of Europe, ‘one day driving from your home’. With a unique combination of both Cross Country and Extreme categories, it brings the off-road scene together in spacious open-air bivouacs with a special family atmosphere - on the track and after the rally.
New this year was the Breslau 500 - a three-day parallel event of the Rallye Breslau Poland, allowing teams to get a taste of the marathon and Cross Country rally close to home, an easier and budget solution for those who seek the adventure and passion of the off-road in a perfect organization. Here Frank Stensky from Germany won the Car Cross country class in his fast Mercedes G ‘Lennson CC’ proto, ahead of competitors from all over Europe.
The Car Cross Country Class sees an interesting winner from Poland, as Grzegorz Brochocki and Grzegorz Komar (#327) lead the Rallye Breslau Poland with perhaps the smallest car on the track: a modified Dacia Duster with a 2.0l Renault diesel engine. ‘The little car that could’, prepared by an experienced off-road and WRC rally team, which has also competed successfully in the World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.
Second place is for the man with the most stage wins: Jaroslaw Andrzejewski. He lost time on the first day and spent the entire event on his toes, trying to catch up with the front runners. As the week progressed his chances improved, but he needed just a few more days to catch up with his main competitor.
Third in the Car Cross Country class is a mixed French-German team with Richard Oguez and Tobi Henschel (#325) - created right before the event as the main co-driver of Richard had to return home. Without speaking each other’s language, the driver and co-driver found a middle ground, the language of motorsport and racing. 15 words, translated and glued to the dashboard are the only help as they compete and search for the finish line each day - with a podium as result!
The battle for the Car Extreme Class between Jim Marsden (#459) from the UK and Romain Porchere (#463) from France is a unique scene in the motorsport: Jim has won the Breslau before, but Romain was able to produce consistent results throughout the week. Only in the last stage the French team choose the wrong line out of a swamp, losing 30 minutes and their 1st place to the fast and clever Jim Marsden.
Franck Daurelle and Francoise Hollender show their perseverance and endurance as this years’ Rallye Breslau Poland is not an easy run for them. Technical issues, bad luck and a broken link to the front axle on the last day eat their time and left them 3rd in the classification. Perhaps someone else might have abandoned the race, but Franck & Francoise show that if you keep going, the result might be better than expected!
Next year the Rallye Breslau Poland continues, with the support and cooperation of the Polish government, local municipalities and the forest departments. The organiser Alexander Kovatchev of ‘Rally Breslau International’ also known as RBI announced the dates during the price giving ceremony: Start 29th of June, finish 7th of July. A special honour was the invitation from the city of Miastko to return in 2019, much to the pleasure of the competitors and the organisation alike. See you next year, in the Rallye Breslau Poland 2019!