Red Bull Romanics, preview
This coming Saturday sees the sixth edition of the Red Bull Romaniacs get underway at Sibiu, Romania. The organisers call it the “World’s toughest Hard Enduro Rally”, and there’s certainly a lot of truth to that.
Leading the field are BMW factory riders Gerhard Forster and Andreas Lettenbichler. Both Germans will be facing last year’s winner Graham Jarvis as well as four gnarly stages through the forests of Lord Dracula.
The proceedings kick off with a prologue to be held in downtown Sibiu, and across a course littered with artificial obstacles and gnarly sections. In 2008 Forster finished both the opener and event in second place, after ultimately being on the bike for more than 23 hours altogether. Forster and Lettenbichler have to endure the same tortures this time around – at least.
The four stages vary between 100 and 200 km in length, with the start and finish area being located on all but one occassion in Sibiu. The winner is expected to reach the chequered flag earlier on Wednesday afternoon. But it’s going to take a lot of determination and stamina to get there.
The riders will be handling trees and rocks, impossible up- and gruesome downhills, and suffer through all sorts of additional discomfort. The Romaniacs are relentless, a true test for men and machine. So much that a year ago just 21 riders made it to the finish line. The route is being defined through waypoints rather than by roadbook, meaning the best navigators have an advantage.
Because of their recent successes, Extreme Enduro specialists Forster and Lettenbichler are among the favourites. Both have been frequent podium visitors at international races. Forster is known to be a navigation master anyway. He missed the win a year ago simply because the competition followed his tracks, therefore taking advantage of his superior skills.
As all these things are happening in the backyard of Lord Dracula himself, what must he be thinking?
Looking back at the past five editions, there’s reason to assume he’s quite content with the the world’s off road elite visiting myth-enshrouded Transylvania. Official approval pending…