Fenix Rally 2024: new dates, new routes, new adventures for an amazing race

The Fenix Rally took place in Tunisia from 9 to 17 April. It was a gripping edition with many twists and turns, both sporting and unexpected caused by mother nature, the latter unexpectedly and managed admirably by the event organisation.

Photograpghy by Paolo Baraldi, Story by  Hristomir Nikolov

fenix rally 2024

The fourth edition of Fenix Rally under the familiar slogan “Open the doorway to Sahara”

The fourth edition of Fenix Rally under the familiar slogan “Open the doorway to Sahara”, once again attracted participants from all over the Europe, as well as the hosting country Tunisia.


There was several novelties for this year’s rally, which brought more interesting things to everybody. Apart from the new dates,  there was a new itinerary for the rally, starting and finishing in the beautiful resort of Djerba.


The total length of the route was over 2100 kilometers, with some 1625 of them against the clock. The start ceremony and the prologue was in Djerba, from where the caravan moved to Douz. After a day around Douz, the racers goes on a marathon stage in the hearth of the desert. After the return to the city pf Douz, then all the caravan of Fenix Rally 2024 moved to the famous Ksar Ghilane oasis. The race restarted with a special stage in the region of Ksar Ghilane and after moved back to Djerba.

Start your engines: Fenix Rally 2024 is on! First taste of the race with the prologue in Djerba

Fenix Rally 2024 is officially on the go. The fourth edition of the desert marathon started with a short prologue near the Mediterranean resort of Djerba, where the participants get the first taste of what they will have for the rest of the week.


After a very short liaison across the bridge to Tunisia’s mainland, the racers dived into a mind-blowing mix of tracks: fast gravel paste, small off-road tracks, and sand! As a bonus, they drove along the magnificent sea coast with beautiful rocky cliffs towards the finish of this section.


According to the newest regulations of Fenix, the 40 kilometers long prologue was set to build the starting order for Leg 1 and it’s not included in the Classification. But this was an important day, where everybody could check up the tunes of the vehicle and to get a good position for the upcoming longest stage of the rally.

fenix rally 2024

In the bike class, it was Christian Pastori (№26, Husqvarna), who got the best time in the day. The pilot from Italy took 1:19 min. advantage to Laurynas Avyzius from Lithuania (№38, Husqvarna) and just one more second to Dominique Robin (№64) from France with KTM. In the ATV class Gerome Pla (№23, Polaris), also from France, was the fastest on the track, overpassed with 9 minutes Jamie Shaw (№21, Can-Am) from the UK. Third place for the day was for another British pilot - Stuart Marley (№19, Can-Am).


The Brits also took command in the SSV race, where Alexander Parpottas (№430, Polaris) stole tiny 20 seconds from his French rival Frederic Henricy (№403, Polaris). Just one second wasn't enough to Egidijus Malinovskis (№410, Can-Am) from Lithuania to took the second place for the day.


Moving to the cars, the old desert fox Jerome Pelichet (№215, Optimus) definitely wants to have another victory from Fenix Rally after this from 2021. The Frenchman finished with almost 7 minutes advance to Tudor Alexandru Mircea (№218, Gekko proto) from Romania. The third place went to Richard Timerman (№209, Toyota) from Netherlands, who made it with some second slower compare to Mircea.


Finishing with the trucks, or the “MAN KAT class” of Fenix Rally 2024, the stage opener for the first leg will be Paolo Calabria from Italy. Second for the day was Matthias Koerber from Germany, followed by his compatriot Klaas Steinhoefel.

The longest stage 540 km in the menu from Djerba to Douz

The first Leg of Fenix Rally 2024 offered the longest stage in this year’s race in terms of kilometers, but not the most difficult one. The route included three timed sections, and the overall length was 540 kilometers, 390 of which were special stages. The participants leaved the island of Djerba by a liaison and started the leg very early toward Douz, passing around Ksar Ghilane. Fast tracks, narrow routes and sand were in the menu marked this long day, and at the end there were big surprises.

rebelle rally 2024

No doubt, Jerome Pelichet (№215, Optimus) came to Fenix Rally 2024 with one simple ambition – to repeat his victory from the maiden edition of the marathon in 2021. And he is on this way very early. The legend from France claimed the first stage win in the car class, with over an hour and 40 minutes ahead of Cristi Movila (№221, Hummer H3 EVO) from Romania. The battle for the day was actually for the second place, where Breslau’s veteran Jork Neese (№211, CARTEC PROJEKT II) from Germany missed that chance with some two minutes.


Egidijus Malinovskis (№410, Can-Am) took the lead after the first leg in the SSV class. The pilot from Lithuania claimed 4 minutes to Marc Bonnafoux (№415, Can-Am) from France. Third fastest time was for Marcin Graczyk (№415) from Poland, also with Can-Am, who finished with almost 11 minutes behind the leader.


For Malinovskis Fenix 2024 is the first race ever. And he started like a boss, even after he hit a dune some meters from the start after refueling, loosing time and receiving damage on one of the wheels and running big part of the stage with three working wheels. But this didn’t stop him, also the big jump from a rock. Really lucky guy!


Laurynas Avyzius (№38, Husqvarna) was the fastest biker after the longest stage from Djerba to Douz. The rider from Lithuania finished the stage with 5:16 min. advance to Federico Bassi (№40) from Italy, also with “Husky”. Daily top 3 was completed by Gaspard Delsard (№29, KTM) from France, who clinched just one second from his compatriot and last year champion from Fenix Sebastien Tocaben (№1, KTM).


After the finish, Avyzius, who is doing his second Fenix, commented: “It was really hard, it was 3 stages, 3 different stages. One was fast, one was stony, and the last was full of dunes, so everything together in a nice piece today. The first day is really nice, looking forward for the next stage”.


In the ATV class Gerome Pla (№23, Polaris) from France, continued with his high tempo from the prologue and took the stage win. Almost hour and a half behind him was Stuart Marley (№19, Can-Am), who claimed the second spot. Third place for the day was for his compatriot and team-mate Jamie Shaw (№21, Can-Am), 2 hours behind the leader.


In the truck or “MAN” class, Paolo Calabria set the pace in the opening leg, finished 13:32 minutes ahead of Matthias Koerber. With not a good day, Klaas Steinhoefel is almost seven hours and half behind the leader due to tech problems and difficulties on the stage.

fenix rally 2024

When Mother Nature changes your plans. Huge storms modified the program of the desert marathon

Expecting heavy winds and, most interesting – heavy rain in the desert, the mastermind of Fenix Rally Alex Kovatchev had no choice, but to make big changes on the marathon’s program. Thus, the second Leg of the race started on the route of Leg 3, or the first part of the marathon stage. And the participants faced more than 190 kilometers, leading them deep in the desert in a dedicated camp, without assistance. But before reaching the magnificent place for the night, they had to battle with sand, dunes and tricky navigation. And, of course, for the fastest time and the rankings.


Two stages, two stage wins: Jerome Pelichet (№215, Optimus) once again was the fastest in the car class. The French veteran took another huge advance on the track, living his rivals to fight for the foothills of the podium. The second place for the stage then went to Alexander Oberlechner (№210, Land Rover) from Switzerland, and the third was once again for the Breslau legend Jork Neese (№211, CARTEC PROJEKT II) from Germany.


Hugues Lacam (№428, Can-Am) managed to reach the desert camp with the best time in the SSV class. The Frenchman made it with a solid advance of almost 24 minutes to Tomas Mickus (№439, Can-Am) from Lithuania. Third for the day was another French pilot – Frederic Henricy (№403) with Polaris, who finished 6 minutes behind Mickus.


France’s domination in the second full-scale racing day of Fenix 2024 continued also in the bike class, where the daily top 3 was totally occupied by pilots from The Pyrenees, all of them with KTM machines. Fastest was Gaspard Delsard (№2) with almost 14 minutes advance to Sebastien (№2). The daily podium was completed by Dominique Robin (№64), who finished with more than 40 minutes behind the winner.


Did we say French domination? It continued also in the ATV class, where Gerome Pla (№23, Polaris) continued his domination, leaving far away his rivals. The second-best time was for his fellow countryman Gilles Mecene (№28, Yamaha), but he, as well as Jamie Shaw (№21, Can-Am) were far, far away behind.


In the truck class, Paolo Calabria claimed his second stage win, and there is no change in the rankings: second was Matthias Koerber and third Klaas Steinhoefel.

fenix rally 2024

And when you think that managed everything, then Mother Nature comes and changes your plans totally. In the morning after the desert camp everything was ready for the special stage which was supposed to take the participants from the bivouac in the desert to the camp in Douz. It would have been the second part of the marathon stage. Yes, it would have been, because upon waking up from the night in the Sahara, all the participants felt the force of mother nature that struck across the central area of Tunisia. A very strong wind, accompanied by violent rain, forced the organization to immediately cancel Leg 3 and draw up an evacuation plan to secure all the competitors and the members of the organization themselves. The sudden response to the violent storm by Alexander Kovatchev's staff allowed the desert camp to be safely evacuated and all the heroes returned to the safety of Douz. Yes, heroes, because to return to civilization they had to drive, escorted by marshals, the recovery and medical team, defying the adverse forces of this meteorological event. At the same time, in the Douz camp, the mechanics lived a pure Rallye Breslau style experience with water and mud that made the whole area impassable.

After the rest day the marathon moved to Ksar Ghilane

After the unexpected big storms which caused the cancelation of Leg 3 and a well-deserved rest day in Douz, Fenix Rally 2024 restarted on full throttle. The race moved towards the magnificent oasis to Ksar Ghilane, with perfect stage which offered more than 270 kilometers, from which 233 were against the clock.


The track started with fast sandy and gravel tracks towards Bir Soltane, where the terrain became more rough gravel, but still with fast routes and tricky navigation. The second part of the stage gave to the racers first taste of the dunes, before reaching the finish line near the oasis.


In the bike class, we didn’t saw the usual top 3 pilots, claiming the best position. This time, the stage winner was Simone Boer (№20) from Italy with Husqvarna. The pilot from Italy managed to finish with advance of almost 18 minutes to Jurgis Rietmus (№10, KTM) from Latvia. Third for the day was Remi Lauilhe (№16, KTM) from France, 20:30 min. behind the winner.


Gilles Mecene (№28, Yamaha) claimed the stage win in the ATV class. The Frenchman got 8 minutes advance to his fellow countryman Gerome Pla (№23, Polaris), who, anyway, has a none than a huge advance in the overall. Daily top 3 was completed by Stuart Marley (№19, Can-Am), who finished some half an hour behind Mecene.

fenix rally 2024

New racing day, new best time by Jerome Pelichet (№215, Optimus). The Frenchman was enough fast to take another huge advance to his rivals. Second fastest on the route to Ksar Ghilane was Tudor Alexandru (№218, Gekko) who “stole” 40 seconds from Alexander Oberlechner (№210, Land Rover).


We expect big changes in the SSV class, as some the usual leaders didn’t have a good day, resulting in big time losses. But it was a good day for Tomas Mickus (№439, Can-Am) who claimed the stage win. The pilot from Lithuania clinched 8 minutes and a half to Marcin Graczyk (№425, Can-Am) from Poland and two more to his compatriot Algirdas Talutis (№411, Can-Am).


Once again, Paolo Calabria set the pace in the truck or “MAN” class of Fenix 2024. The Italian is no less than a total dominant, with hours ahead to Klaas Steinhoefel and Matthias Koerber from Germany.

fenix rally 2024

Full throttle deep in the desert. Different terrains around Ksar Ghilane made the race tough, but interesting

Day 6 of Fenix Rally 2024 offered more than 310 kilometers against the clock in the area near Ksar Ghilane. The route offered practically every kind of terrain – fast sandy and gravel tracks, rocks, dunettes and dunes, of course combined with tricky navigation.

fenix rally 2024

Sebastian Tocaben (№1, KTM) proved that he is very experienced in the sand and it’s not a matter of luck that he won the last year’s edition of Fenix in the bike class. The Frenchman took 2:21 minutes advance to Christian Pastori (№26, Husqvarna) and claimed the stage win. Third for the day was Robert Przybylowski (№12, KTM), almost 8 minutes behind Tocaben, who is leading also in the overall standings, far away from his rivals.


Same situation in the ATV class, where another French pilot is on the way to the victory in Fenix Rally 2024. Gerome Pla (№23, Polaris) set the fastest time around Ksar Ghilane, beating with almost 9 minutes his fellow countryman Gilles Mecene (№28, Yamaha). Jamie Shaw (№21, Can-Am) made the third best time of the day, far away behind the flying Frenchmen. Pla is undisputed leader in the class, hours away in front of his rivals.


Jerome Pelichet (№215) and his 2WD desert bolide Optimus felt so comfortable in the sands, which guided to another stage win for the French veteran. Slightly one hour advance for Pelichet for the day to Alexander Oberlechner (№210, Land Rover) and another 20 minutes to Tudor Alexandru (№218, Gekko). If something not happen in the last 2 days, Pelichet will take his second title in the car class.


Alexander Parpottas (№430, Polaris) was the fastest in the SSV class during the sixth day of Fenix Rally 2024. The pilot from UK took slightly than 4 minutes advance to Arturas Vaidotas (№432, Can-Am) from Lithuania and more than 3 more minutes to Herve Guillaume (№429, Can-Am) from France. Guillaume is the new overall leader, as Marcin Graczyk (№425, Can-Am) from Poland, who leaded the rankings the previous day, had a lot of troubles around Ksar Ghilane, which caused him almost hour and a half time loss. But there is no comfort for the Frenchman, as Parpottas is just a minute behind him and the game can change really fast and unexpecting.


No surprising, Paolo Calabria and his well-prepared rally truck MAN were flying in the dunes to clinch another stage win (and for sure the general one). The Italian finished with more than an hour advance to Klaas Steinhoefel and the third participant in the truck class Matthias Koerber didn’t start the stage, causing him another portion of penalty hours.

fenix rally 2024

The race moved back to Djerba with picturesque stage

The penultimate leg of Fenix Rally 2024 sent back the competitors to Djerba. The track started in the east direction of Ksar Ghilane and offered mainly fast gravel tracks, some parts of dry chott terrains and a little bit sand in the end. In the menu there were 296 kilometers, 202 of which are competitive, split on two timed sections.


This time we start with the SSV class, because there were the changes. Even Severn Paul (№438, Polaris) was the fastest on the stage, it was Alexander Parpottas (№430, Polaris) who, finished on second place, is the new overall leader after the penultimate day of Fenix Rally 2024. The pilot from UK has more than 7 minutes advance to Herve Guillaume (№429, Can-Am) from France and everything will be decided in the last kilometers of the marathon. Marc Bonnafoix (№415, Can-Am) is also in the mix, laying 10 minutes after the leader.


The stage win in the bike class went to Jurgis Rietmus (№10, KTM) from Latvia, but Sebastian Tocaben (№1, KTM) is on the way to the victory among the bikes, with strong advance to him rivals. Identical situation among the ATVs, where his compatriot Gerome Pla (№23, Polaris) set the fastest time and has no less than huge advance a day before the finish.


Jerome Pelichet (№215) and his 2WD desert bolide Optimus were once again the fastest on the way to Djerba, leaving the competition far behind. The daily triumph was for the Romanian driver Cristi Movila (№221) and his Hummer H3 Evo. And absolutely no changes in the truck class where Paolo Calabria and his rally truck MAN were once again the fastest.

fenix rally 2024

The winners of Fenix Rally 2024

Fenix Rally 2024 is in the books. The 8-day desert marathon ended with a final stage near the beautiful resort of Djerba with 136 kilometers of timed section. And, after the challenging week, which was full of surprises, including some unexpected from the nature, we have the new crowned kings of the desert.


Jerome Pelichet, co-piloted by Pascal Larroque, won every single stage of the race in the car class with their Optimus 2WD bolide. Thus, the French crew repeated their success from the maiden edition of Fenix Rally in 2021. The second place went to Alexander Oberlechner from Austria and his navigator Peter Brunner from Switzerland with their well-made Land Rover. Deserved third place for the Breslau veterans Jork Neese and Torsten Mueller, who relied on a machine, also suitable for hard trophy.

fenix rally 2024
Jerome Pelichet / Pascal Larroque – FRA

Olaf Seip and Matthias Stock from Germany are the winners in the Car Limited class, for the vehicles without modifications, driving their Land Rover to the finish precisely. Second place for Marian Andreev and Valentin Capota from Romania with Dacia, and "bronz medal" for the Tunisian crew of Abdennour Benabdennour - Abdel Waheb Dakhalaoui with Mitsubishi.

fenix rally 2024
Olaf Seip / Matthias Stock – DEU

In the SSV class, Alexander Parpottas from the UK and his Bulgarian co-pilot Zornitsa Todorova pushed after the restart of the rally and grabbed the first place a day before the finish. Despite that Parpottas missed the last stage win from the Lithuanian crew Egidijus Malinovskis - Povilas Ignatavicius, he was enough advance to take the title, leaving the French duo Herve Guillaume - Maxime Guillaume on the second place. Third in the final rankings were another French tandem: Marc Bonnafoux - Jean-Michel Polato.

fenix rally 2024
Alexander Parpottas / Zornitsa Todorova - GBR / BGR

The last stage win in the bike class went to Remi Lauilhe from France, but it was his fellow countryman Sebastian Tocaben, who clinched the overall victory. Tocaben repeated his success from th last year’s Fenix Rally, leaving far behind his main rivals Laurynas Avyzius from Lithuania and Robert Przybylowski from Poland.

fenix rally 2024
Sebastien Tocaben – FRA

The French triumph continued in the ATV class, where Jerome Pla leaved nothing to his rivals and grabbed the victory with a huge advance. Second place overall went to Stuart Marley from the United Kingdom, and the third was for his compatriot and team-mate Jamie Shaw.

fenix rally 2024
Jerome Pla – FRA

In the truck class, the title went (early) to the Italian trio Paolo Calabria - Loris Calubini - Giuseppe Fortuna. Second place for Klaas Steinhoefel-Jochen Ullman - Ralf Schwark and third for their countrymen from Germany Mathias Koerber - Max Jackermeier - Sebastian Roedel.

fenix rally 2024
Paolo Calabria / Loris Calubini / Giuseppe Fortuna – ITA

As Fenix Rally 2024 is over, the race director Alexander Kovatchev is no less than happy and tired. But, the boss of RBI Sport is already turning his mind toward the jubilee Breslau Rally in Poland, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary in the end of June. We expect on more racing day, three bivouacs and many more surprises. See you there!