Rallye Breslau 2023: an exciting race that opens the doors for next year celebration of the 30th edition

The 29th edition of the Europe’s oldest and biggest off-road competition toke place between 25 and 30 June in the magnificent military terrains in Poland and once again brought a lot of interesting novelties. This year the marathon started again in the city of Zagan in the south part of Poland and ended in Drawsko Pomorskie. Both regions offer extraordinary rally routes for both the categories of Breslau: Cross-Country and Extreme. As a tradition in the last years, the race it offered prologue and 5 legs.

Photography Paolo Baraldi - Story  Hristomir Nikolov 

rallye breslau 2023

The total distance of the itinerary was approximately 1250 km, from which competitive sections of 950 km. The biggest part of the route included dirt tracks, but gravel and especially sand was also important portion of the rally. As well as the mud holes and the deep river crossings have been the iconic part of the extreme race. Once again, the competitors faced the legendary night stage in a new and demanding terrains.


More than 220 racing vehicles started under the start arch in Zagan and again the most crowded groups was that of SSVs in the Cross-Country category as the small buggies become more and more popular in the rally-raid all over the world. There was also strong competition in the bike class and as usual among the cars. In the Extreme category, veterans and newbies battled it out in both the car and truck classes.


On of the biggest novelties was the introducing of Ultra4 class for the first time in the history of Breslau. The masterminds behind the racing series – Alexander Kovatchev and Dave Cole made official partnership and invite the competitors in Poland and Ultra4 Europe included Rallye Breslau to its adrenaline pumping race calendar for 2023.

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Another turning point is the introduction of the digital roadbooks. For Rallye Breslau 2023 was offered along with the traditional, printed on paper. RBI Sport is known for the innovation in terms of technical solutions for the rally control and time keeping solutions. The digital road book is an important part of the whole technological advancement and digitalization which RBI Sport is developing. Competitors can choose which road book format use during the rally.

Rallye Breslau 2023: the adventure officially started. The first day offered a prologue and a tricky leg

Rallye Breslau 2023 officially started with a flag off ceremony in the city of Zagan. There, more 220 racing vehicles from all classes took their first challenge – a technical prologue, followed with a demanding first full race stage.


Normally the first day of any rally is just a little more than a parade for the participants. But Rallye Breslau is not like that! It’s well- known for being the toughest race in Europe and this first day was among the busiest of the week with the Show Start, the Prologue and the Selective Stage 1.


Early in the morning, all the participants of the Rallye Breslau 2023 were in the central square of the city of Zagan for the Show. After the flag off, a small transfer got them to the start of the prologue in the Lipinki area. And it wasn’t easy prologue – it was a real taste of all the terrains that the rally will offer to the participants during the various legs. An unusually long prologue: no less than 30 km from the thousand woops, tank tracks to the classic road in the Polish forest. And technical driving and precise navigation were the key to a good result. The Extremes in the prologue faced a route entirely dedicated to them with new sections of "true extreme" with water and mud lovers. A first taste of the pitfalls that will accompany this category throughout the week.

At this point, instead of finishing the day with the prologue classification, the competitors were in line for the start of the first long selective stage. The Cross Country and Extreme categories spent the rest of day in the Świętoszów area, known as the European Sahara. The terrain of this huge polygon is unique in Europe and its fine sand requires "African" style driving skills. The tank tracks were the leitmotif of the day. And the drivers have to concentrate on driving and the co-drivers on the roadbook because in Breslau the correct reading of each note is an integral part of the game!

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In the bike class, it was Matthew Gird, who managed the challenge with the best time. The pilot from South Africa took the stage win with 2 minutes advance to Modestast Siliunas from Lithuania. Bas Eikelenboom from Nederland completed the daily podium.


In the ATV class it was a battle between 2 well-known raiders – Rafal Jawien from Poland and Gaetan Martinez from France. And it was Jawien, who clocked the best time on the stage, leading 2 minutes to Martinez. Third place for the day went to another pilot from Poland – Adam Krysiak.

Fastest in the Cars Cross-Country class was the Roger Schoonbrood (Toyota). The driver from Belgium made a good almost 6 minutes advance to Tonnie Van Der Hoeven from Nederland, also with Toyota. Third for the day became Henry Ulke from Germany with Nissan.


Ruud Bellemakers (Polaris) from Nederland was the fastest in the SSV class. He overpassed the Lithuanian Dalius Olechnavicius (Can-Am) with slightlu more than 2 minutes. Daily top 3 was completed by Michal Latoch (Can Am) from Poland.


In the truck CC class, it was entire Dutch fight for the best time, which was won by Wiliam Van Groningen (Iveco), who made huge advance of almost 26 minutes to Hugo Kupper (DAF). Kupeer, as well as the third fastest ford the day – Richard De Groot missed a WPM, which cost them 5 minutes penalty.


Finally, in the brand new Ultra4 class of Rallye Breslau, who follows the route of cross-country, fastest was Antoine Reul from Belgium.


Hardo Mere was the best car driver in the Extreme category, where the daily podium was occupied by Estonian pilots. Among the trucks, Heiko Seidel (Mercedes) managed to take the hard terrain with the best time.

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Rallye Breslau 2023, Day 2: battle as is used to be. The race offered the last challenge in Zagan, before moving to Drawsko

The second day of Rallye Breslau 2023 offered a single special stage for the competitors with 145 km route for the cross-country and 130 for the extreme category. Additionally, the bikes and quads made the timed section in the morning, and the other CC vehicles started at noon, for safety reason.

The day offered enough of everything that this part of Poland can offer to the competitors - surreal sand landscape like in the Sahara but with the typical Polish forest on the sides. Specially for the Extreme category there were walls of sand to climb and puddles of water and mud to conquer for the last goodbye that competitors received before moving on to new challenges in the Drawsko polygon.


In the bike class, it was Dutch duel, won by Ties Hellegers (Husqvarna), who made it with 10:38 minutes faster than Bas Eikelenboom (Husqvarna). Third fastest for the day was Bartlomiej Tabin from Poland, also with “Husky”.


Adam Krysiak (Polaris), who was third in Leg 1, grab his first stage win in the ATV class of Rallye Breslau 2023, beating Gaetan Martinez from France with tiny 23 seconds. Third was another raider from Poland - Rafal Jawien, who missed only 7 seconds to grab the second place for the day.


Roger Schoonbrood (Toyota) took his second consecutive stage win in the Cars Cross-Country class. The Belgium made it with huge 23 minutes advance to Stefan Goverts (Land Rover) from Nederland, and to more than Tonnie Van Der Hoeven (Toyota), also from Nederland.


Dalius Olechnavicius (Can-Am) was the fastest among the SSVs, clinching more than a minute to the Dutch pilot Michiel Becx (Arcane). Third for the day was another driver from Nederland, also with Arcane T3 proto – Janus Van Kasteren Jr., who arrived to the finish with 4:38 min. delay from the stage winner.


Pilots from Nederland were the fastest, not only in top 3, but in top 4 for the day in the Truck CC class. Wiliam Van Groningen (Iveco) had another great day, beating once again Hugo Kupper (DAF), but this time with 8 minutes. Richard De Groot was again third, almost 23 minutes behind Van Groningen, and the 4th “flying Dutchman” was Hans Van Geest (Mercedes).


Bartosz Puchowski from Poland won the second leg in the bran new Ultra4 class of Breslau. Whe managed to take advance of exactly 8 minutes to Antoine Reul from Belgium. Daily top 3 was completed by the Italian Andrea Calandri, 59 seconds behind Reul.

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Hardo Mere (HM7 Proto) was once again the best car driver in the Extreme category, finished with huge 48 minutes advance to the French veteran Gilles Girousse and his famous six-wheeled Mercedes. Third for the day was another Frenchman – David Drancourt (Toyota).


Steffen Braun (Unimog) from Germany was the best in the small EX truck class, as his compatriot Marcus Hoenig (MAN KAT) took the stage win among the big trucks in the Extreme category.

Rallye Breslau 2023, Day 3: strangers in the night. Midnight battles on new terrains near Drawsko

Day 3 of Rallye Breslau 2023 was marked by the legendary night stage, after the caravan of the race moved to the second camp in Drawsko Pomorskie. There was another separation between the lighter machines and the bigger in the CC class, and the EX drove almost the same 80 kms route, but with some big challenges like mud holes and deep river crossings.


Nerimantas Jucius (Beta) managed to be the best in the midnight battle among the bikes. The pilot from Lithuania finished 2:47 minutes in front of Bas Eikelenboom (Husqvarna) from Nederland. Daily top 3 was completed by another Dutchman - Ties Hellegers (Husqvarna), who made it to the finish with some 3 minutes and a half difference from the winner.


A quadruple daily (or nightly) triumph in the ATV class, where pilots from Polaris Polska Racing team took the best times. Fastest was Marcin Wilkolek, followed by Ireneusz Ostafin some 3 minutes behind. With almost four minutes after the winner, third place went to Rafal Jawien and the 4th was for Adam Krysiak with almost 6 minutes passive to Wilkolek.


Piotar Urbaniak (Toyota) took the stage victory in the Car Cross-Country class. The driver from Poland made it with the best time in the dark, clinched 3:41 minutes advance from Antoine Idelot (Bowler) from France. Henri Ulke (Nissan) from Germany finished third, with 5 minutes and a half passive to the winner.


Ulius Adomavicius (Can-Am) won the Lithuanian duel in the SSV class. He beat his teammate from Metruna M-Sport Tomas Zaleckas (Can-Am) with almost 5 minutes in the night stage. Third for the day (or rather – the night) was Michiel Becx (Arcane T3), loosing some 12 minutes from the winner.


Antoine Reul scored it’s second victory in the brand new Ultra4 class of Rallye Breslau. The Belgium beat the legendary extreme pilot Jim Marsden from UK with almost 5 minutes. Third for the stage was Bartosz Puchowski from Poland, with over 11 minutes passive.


In the “very Dutch” class of the cross-country trucks, Hugo Kupper (DAF) brought his behemoth to the finish with the best time. Second place for Hans Van Geest (Mercedes. +6:36 min.) and third for Richard De Groot (Iveco) 11 and a half minutes late.


Whether it is day or night, Hardo Mere (HM7 Proto) is the best in the Extreme car class. He was from three Estonian pilots, occupying the stage podium, beating his compatriots Rainer Rueuetli and Rait Maendla with respectively 8 and 21 minutes.


Steffen Braun (Unimog) from Germany was the fastest in the small EX truck class, as his compatriot Oliver Leyh (MAN KAT) took the stage win among the big trucks in the Extreme category.

Rallye Breslau 2023, Day 4: full throttle in Drawsko. 190 kilometers against the clock and many, many action in Leg 3

The fourth day of Rallye Breslau 2023 brought the first, but complete taste of what the Drawsko polygons can offer. There were about 190 kilometers in the menu, with forest-shrouded roads, tank tracks, sandy highways and, for the Extremes, mud and water welcomed the competitors.


It was a very good day for the Poland and Nederland, as riders and drivers from these countries claimed the best times in the different classes of the Cross-Country category. Exception is the Extreme category, where Hardo Mere from Estonia was once again best in the car race (but, his co-pilot Piotar Kujawski is Polish), and German truckers are always in the lead – Oliver Leyh (MAN KAT) in the bigger (>7.5 t) class, and Felix Muellenheim (Unimog) among the smaller behemots.

Starting with Polish daily wins, the first was for Bartolomiej Tabin (Husqvarna) in the bike class. He made it with more than one minute faster than Nerimantas Jucius (Beta) from Lithuania, and almost two Ties Hellegers (Husqvarna).


Polaris Polska Racing Team continue its domination in the ATV class, but thi time with “only” 3 fastest pilots in the leg. The stage win went to Rafal Jawien, who clinched 1:46 min. to Adam Krysiak. Third for the day was Marcin Wilkolek, four and a half minutes after Jawien.

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The next triumphant from the host-country of Breslau, was Lucas Gembala in the all-new Ultra4 class of the rally. He managed a huge 22 minutes advance to Mathias Armand from France and respectable one hour to his fellow countryman and team-mate in RALLY4TEAM Szymon Salamon.


Continuing with the Dutch daily records, the first went to Janus Van Kasteren Jr. (Arcane T3) in the SSV class. He avoided the possibility for one more Polish stage win, overtaking Karol Lenkiewicz (Can-Am) with tiny 49 seconds. Third for the day was another pilot from Nederland - Michiel Becx (Arcane T3), 1:24 minutes after the winner.


In the car CC class triumphant was the well-known Breslau veteran Herman Jasper (Bowler). The Dutch made it with almost 7 minutes faster than Niki Schelle (Mercedes) from Germany, even after penalty for missing WPM. Daily top 3 was completed by Remy Loo (Jeep), also from Nederland.

William Van Groningen (Iveco) was the fastest in the truck CC class. And more interesting – with only 28 seconds advance to Marc Leeuw (Ginaf), which is a time difference, not often associate in the truck races. Third for the day was Hugo Kupper (DAF), 5 minutes behind the fastest.

Rallye Breslau 2023, Day 5: the penultimate battles. Leg 4 gave a lot of answers “who”, but also some intrigues for the final

The penultimate day 5 of Rallye Breslau 2023 offered two separate special stages with total distance of about 160 kilometers. Once again bikes, ATVs and extreme vehicles started the first part, and the other CC vehicles – the second. After regrouping in the bivouac, both groups drove the opposite timed section. The terrain was similar to that of the previous day, but there were new sections, including slopes, fast straights and tricky paths.


Nerimantas Jucius (Beta) was fastest in the 5th day of Rallye Breslau 2023 in the bike class. The Lithuanian is leading the 2-wheeled group, with 11 minutes advance to Bas Eikelenboom (Husqvarna, NLD, 5th at the daily finish). Third overall is Ties Hellegers (Beta, NLD), who gain the second place in the stage.


Polaris Polska Racing Team continue its “boring” domination in the ATV class, where Rafal Jawien claimed the stage win. He is also leader in the group, day before the finish, with almost 15 minutes advance to his team-mate and fellow countryman Adam Krysiak (4th place in leg 4). There will be a severe fight for the “bronze”, as the third Marcin Wilkolek, and the fourth Gaetan Martinez (Can-Am, FRA) are separated by only 3 minutes in the rankings, but with very small chance for something better.


With yet another daily win, Janus Van Kasteren Jr. (Arcane T3) is still the overall leader in the SSV class. He has 8 minutes advance to Dalius Olechnavicius (Can-Am, 3rd for the day), and the third place in the general standings is for Michiel Becx (Arcane T3), who was second fastest for the stage.


In the car CC open class Antoine Idelot (Bowler) clinched the stage win, gaining tiny 52 seconds of advance to Herman Jasper (Bowler). However, the third place for the day was enough for Roger Schonbrood (Toyota) to hold his leadership in the overall, with massive 48 minutes advance to Idelot.

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As for the cars CC with limited modifications, everything will be decided in the last stage, as Hans-Peter Meyer (Suzuki, AUT) has negligible lead of only 13 seconds to Hagen Maikranz (Mitsubishi, DEU).

Lucas Gembala is looking confidently at the first ever title in the all-new Ultra4 class of Breslau rally. He made another best time and has a huge, almost 2 hours advance to Mathias Armand from France.


Richard De Groot (Iveco) was the fastest among the CC truckers, but this doesn’t help him a lot: in the general rankings he is one hour behind the leader William Van Groningen (Iveco, 3rd for the day).


No matter his huge almost 4 hours advance in the Extreme car race, Hardo Mere made 5th of five daily win. The driver is first from three from Estonia, who will possibly occupy the podium of Rallye Breslau 2023. The two others are Rait Maendla and Rainer Rueuetli. Martin Hertwig (Land Rover) is undisputable leader in the class of the cars with limited modifications.


With the daily victory, Ralf Britz (MAN KAT) holds the leadership in the bigger (>7.5 t) class of the extreme trucks. Felix Muellenheim (Unimog) is almost sure winner among the smaller trucks, despite the new stage victory of Steffen Braun (Unimog).

Rallye Breslau 2023: the big winners. Drama and action until the very end of the marathon

Rallye Breslau 2023 officially is in the books, as the international marathon finished after 6 challenging days in the regions of Zagan and Drawsko Pomorskie in Poland. Over 220 racing vehicles from all classes and categories passed under the start arch, and, after some 1300 kilometers against the clock it was the time to determine the new crowned champions of the 29th edition of Europe’s oldest and biggest off-road race.


But it wasn’t an easy walk in the park for the last day, where they were about 100 kilometers for cover in full throttle. And, if in some classes and categories the winners were almost sure from the penultimate day, there was also some big drama and action until the last meters.

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It was Rafal Jawien, who was the most disappointed racer in the ATV class. The raider from Poland led the race before the last stage, but problems costed him the finish of Leg 5 and he dropped out from the top rankings. So, the winner of Rallye Breslau 2023 is another pilot of Polaris Polska Racing Team - Adam Krysiak. Krysiak made it with over 6 minutes at the finish to his team-mate Marcin Wilkolek, but Wilkolek was the winner of the very last stage. And the “bronze medal” of this year’s rally went to Frenchman Gaetan Martinez (Can-Am, FRA).

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Adam Krysiak – POL - Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 S
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Marcin Wilkolek – POL
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Gaetan Martinez – FRA

Nerimantas Jucius (Beta), is the new king of the bike class in Rallye Breslau 2023. The pilot from Lithuania made a good fight with Dutch raiders Bas Eikelenboom (Husqvarna) and Ties Hellegers (Beta) during the whole week, but at the end of the rally had a good 9:35 min. advance to Eikelenboom and some 10 minutes more to Hellegers.

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Nerimantas Jucius – LTU - Beta RR
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Bas Eikelenboom – NLD
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Ties Hellegers – NLD

It was another Dutch – Latvian battle in the SSV class, this time won by the Nederland. It was Janus Van Kasteren Jr. (Arcane T3) who grabbed the title in the “buggy” group, beating Dalius Olechnavicius (Can-Am) with almost 9 minutes on the finish line. The third place went to another pilot of Arcane T3 - Michiel Becx, also from Nederland.

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Janus Van Kasteren Jr. / Marcel Snijders - NLD - Arcane T3
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Dalius Olechnavicius / Romualdas Karuzis – LTU
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Michiel Becx / Edwin Kuijpers - NLD

In the car CC open class, it was another big drama, as Roger Schonbrood (Toyota) missed the victory in the last stage of Breslau 2023. The Dutch had technical issues and, loosing respectable 1:52 hours, dropped to the third place on the podium. So, the new winner of the race is Antoine Idelot (Bowler) from France, who, without problems, made it to the finish with 46 minutes advance to Henry Ulke (Nissan) from Germany.

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Idelot Antoine / Baz Montero Julien - FRA - Bowler Wildcat 200
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Henry Ulke / Stefan Dorn - DEU
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Roger Schoonbrood / Paul Goss Bel – BEL / NLD

In the class of the cars CC with limited modifications, Hans-Peter Meyer (Suzuki) managed to clinch the final victory just in the last kilometers. The pilot from Austria completed the race with little more than a minute advance to Maikranz (Mitsubishi, DEU). After they were separated by only 13 seconds in the penultimate stage. Third on the podium is Jurgen Weyland (Ford), also from Germany.

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Hans Peter Meyer / Ulrich Oppliger – AUT / CHE - Suzuki Jimny
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Hagen Maikranz / Juergen Schneider - DEU
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Juergen Weyland / Anna Britz – DEU - Ford Ranger

Lucas Gembala grabbed the first ever Ultra4 title in Rallye Breslau. The pilot from Poland had a huge advance from the first half of the rally and there was not a chance to his main rival Mathias Armand from France to change the situation. Another Polish pilot – Szymon Salamon completed the top 3 podium.

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Lukas Gembala / Piotr Troszok – POL
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Mathias Armand / Paul Molinero-Roustit - FRA
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Szymon Salamon / Mariusz Kiszlo - POL

William Van Groningen (Iveco) doesn’t need to push up in the las stage, as hi was almost sur champion in the big truck cross-country class. The driver from Nederland finished the rally with a more than a god advance of 35 minutes Hugo Kupper (DAF). Third place went to their compatriot Richard De Groot (Iveco).

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William Van Groningen / Raph Van Den Elshout / Jaco Van Groningen - NLD – Iveco Powerstar
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Hugo Kupper / Michiel Sanders / Sofian Brinksma – NLD
Richard De Groot / Jan Hulsebosch / Mark Laan – NLD

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Rob Smit / Fredo Smit - NLD - Mercedes Unimog 406. In the Small Truck cross country

Wining every single stage from the beginning till the end, Hardo Mere were undisputed dominator among the car class of the Extreme category. Mere grab the victory in Rallye Breslau 2023 and Estonia was the triumphant country with Rait Maendla and Rainer Rueuetli finishing on second and third place. Martin Hertwig (Land Rover) won the title in the class of the cars with limited modifications.

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Hardo Mere / Piotr Kujawski – EST / POL - HM7 Proto. 1st in Extreme Car Open
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Rait Mandla / Rauno Lahi – EST. 2nd in Extreme Car Open
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Rainer Ruutli / Rainer Oja - EST. 3rd in Extreme Car Open

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Martin Hertwig / Anja Hertwig - DEU - Land Rover Discovery. 1st in Extreme Car Limited
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Maciej Pelc / Beata Pelc - POL. 2nd in Extreme Car Limited
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Felix Salfitzky / Dereje Turchi – AUT / ITA. 3rd in Extreme Car Limited

Ralf Britz (MAN KAT) in the bigger (>7.5 t) class of the extreme trucks, and Felix Muellenheim (Unimog) int the smaller truck class are the champions of Rallye Breslau 2023, both with huge advance to their rivals.

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Ralf Britz / Jutta Britz / Domenik Meyer – DEU - Man Kat 1A18x8. 1st in Extreme Big Truck
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Heiko Seidel / Enrico Rattke / Joerg Engelmann - DEU. 2nd in Extreme Big Truck
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Marcus Hoenig / Stephan Buerge r/ Clemens Rabeler - DEU. 3rd in Extreme Big Truck

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Felix Muellenheim / Michael Muellenheim / Boris Glawe - DEU – Mercedes Unimog. 1st in Extreme Small Truck
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Steffen Braun / Patrick Toepfer - DEU. 2nd in Extreme Small Truck
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Job Heesakkers / Bart Gerlings - NLD. 3rd in Extreme Small Truck

As Rallye Breslau is still hot as emotions, the mastermind behind the marathon Alex Kovatchev, already is working of the next episode of The RBI Sport series – Balkan Offroad Rally, which will be held for second year in Romania, in the beginning of October.


In addition to this, Kovatchev is already planning the Fenix Rally 2024 in Tunisia and the most awaited of all the Rallye Breslau 2024 which will celebrate its 30th edition.