4th Red Bull Romaniacs 2007 - Day 4 - Dirt Rider Magazine

Day 4: 4th Red Bull Romaniacs Hard Enduro Rally
17 - 21 June 2007560 kilometres and almost 17.000 meters of climbs and descents - after three days through the Romanian Carpathian Mountains only 90 riders remain in the event. Today's race was technically demanding over the first half, then fast with spectacular views over the second half. Arriving earlier than expected, Frenchmen Cyril Despres and Michel Gau crossed the finish line in Sibiu's autocross park together, with Chris Birch (NZL) third.One of the two previous winners of the Red Bull Romaniacs Hard Enduro Rallye, Cyril Despres and Michel Gau, will in all probability take top honours in this year's race. Starting two minutes after him, Despres soon caught and overtook yesterday's stage winner, the rapid 23 year old New Zealander, Chris Birch. But after struggling to find his route Cyril Despres was eventually caught by Michel Gau. Now exactly four minutes behind the leader, it will not be easy for the 2005 and 2007 Dakar winner to pull back that time tomorrow. Privateer Gerhard Forster (GER) was again able to keep up with the leaders and finished only six minutes behind Birch. Two minutes later it was American Kyle Redmond's turn to cross the finish line. The 19-year old tried his best to overtake the German during the 190km long leg and was disappointed his plans did not work out. In the overall standings Redmond is 16 minutes behind Forster (3rd) in sixth position. Between them: Chris Birch (eleven minutes behind Forster) and Alex Antor; the Andorran rider only five seconds in front. Before tomorrow's last day it is last year's winner Michel Gau who is leading four minutes ahead of his countryman Cyril Despres. The fourth edition of the rallye will be decided on the finish line tomorrow afternoon in Europe's cultural capital 2007, Sibiu.With 90 riders left in the race - 17 professionals, 37 experts and 36 hobby riders - the race started in front of the Hotel Continental in Sibiu. The first half of today's 190km on the pro track (170km for experts and 145km for hobby riders) was pretty technical. The so called "zicky-zacky" section - snaking up and down through the thick forests - was definitely one of the best points for spectators. The participants in the hobby class were the only riders allowed to go round this section and they didn't meet up with the other competitors until the refuelling stop. Deep river crossings and steep downhill sections made even some of the pro riders stop and think about the best way to get over the course.Beautiful mountain views and high speed sections - the Austrian pro rider Dieter Happ was quite amazed at his 126km/h top speed - allowed the riders to forget about the difficulties encountered earlier in the day. Due to the dry weather the track was very fast and the finish time much earlier than expected. "If it had rained over the last few days some of the riders wouldn't have finished before sunset," commented the organiser Martin Freinademetz.14h12 on the bike for the leading pro rider and more than 35 hours (including time penalties) for the last hobby team, 560km and almost 17.000 meters altitude difference and still another day to go - the Red Bull Romaniacs in 2007.Results Day 4, 20 June 2007****Professionals
1. Michel Gau FRA 05:15:56
2. Cyril Despres FRA 05:21:26
3. Chris Birch NZL 05:31:43
4. Gerhard Forster GER 05:32:45
5. Kyle Redmond USA 05:39:55
6. Alex Antor AND 05:49:50
7. Dieter Happ AUT 06:02:10Overall Standings****Professionals
1. Michel Gau FRA 14:12:56
2. Cyril Despres FRA 14:16:56
3. Gerhard Forster GER 14:39:45
4. Chris Birch NZL 14:50:43
5. Alex Antor AND 14:55:50EXPERTS & HOBBY CLASS
4th Red Bull Romaniacs Hard Enduro Rally
17 - 21 June 2007Some are struggling, some are enjoying their days off the road; however, all are trying their best - the riders in the team classes. After the professionals' start it's their time to leave the city and find their ways through valleys and rivers, over mountains and along or even over rocky sections that might remind some of the infamous Erzberg Rodeo in Austria; always close to the route of the professionals.

In the experts class Team BT Asigurari with Aron Gorog from Romania and Michel Dumoulin from Belgium is doing best. The international team has won all off road stages so far and leads the overall standings in this category more than 20 minutes ahead of the second team. The New Zealander Simon Crafar and the Romanian Mirel Pandrea - another international team - are also on a good way to the podium with only second places so far. Another 20 minutes behind the second team in the overall standings is the German team Bayern-Express with Sepp Suttner and Stefan Zwerenz. For them "the second off road day was not as hard as expected" and thus they were able to finish third - after the fourth place the day before. In this category the difference between the leaders and the bottom of the class is more than eleven hours. After tomorrow's last stage the experts will have a new winner team, as the last year's winners Emanuel Gyenes and Laszlo Ohla (ROM) started as professionals in the fourth edition of the Red Bull Romaniacs.Hobby
Sandwiched between two Romanian teams MX Team Comic - Marc Fehrmann and Harald Vollmer - hold the second position in the overall standings in the hobby class. After the first place on the first stage the German encountered some problems on Tuesday. However, the first three teams in the hobby class are only separated by 45 minutes. The fourth placed Austrians Christian Standfest and Alex Kppl from Team Crazy Outsiders are another 20 minutes behind the German team.Standings after two off road stages****Experts
1. Aron Gorog/Michel Dumoulin ROM/BEL
2. Simon Crafar/Mirel Pandrea NZL/ROM
3. Sepp Suttner/Stefan Zwerenz GERHobby
1. Ciprian Popescu/Babes Cristinel ROM
2. Marc Fehrmann/Harald Vollmer GER
3. Benedefki Geza/Gereb Domokos ROMStatements of Day 44th Red Bull Romaniacs Hard Enduro Rally, 17 - 21 June 2007****Chris Birch, NZL
"A very fast day today! I was quite nervous this morning starting first and made a few mistakes. We had to pass a difficult rocky section where I had some problems but Cyril came along and helped me out. I got lost once, somehow found Michel Gau and tried to follow him for a while. I am quite happy with the race so far but I am sure Martin (the organiser) has some surprises left for us on tomorrow's last day!"Cyril Despres, FRA
"Being first I had to open at least four gates which took some time. At another point of the stage we had to ride down a very steep downhill and I had some problems. That's where I lost the time I was in front of Michel. Riding was nice today, though."Gerhard Forster, GER,
"The first sections through the woods were quite difficult and the zicky-zacky thing was the most challenging part for me today. The leg was fast, long and I held pace with Cyril Despres for some time but when we came to a high speed passage I could not keep up with him. My suspension was too hard. On the whole, I am healthy and happy to be in the finish!"Kyle Redmond, USA"Today was easy; however, I am not happy with my result because I wanted to catch and overtake the German Gerhard Forster, but as you can see it didn't work out properly."Alex Antor, AND**
"I had a good day, but lost my mini-tracker again. For God's sake Martin (the organiser) was near behind me and gave it back to me. Mini trackers and Alex Antor don't fit together. Tomorrow is the last day and I'll try to keep the rhythm and not to make too many mistakes."Dieter Happ, AUT
"This morning I felt a bit tired already after more than 300km in my legs. In the first part of the day we had some difficult uphill sections and it took me some time to really "wake up". Today was a fast day; my high speed is 126km/h up in the mountains. I think the race is very well balanced and I am absolutely happy with my performance."Frans Verhoeven, NED
"This was the nicest day for riding so far. In the morning I felt sick and had diarrhoea but felt much better after an hour. I had to push and lift my bike at some passages and the day's highlight was a crazy downhill into a river."For details and pictures see www.redbullromaniacs.com