Since last Sunday, 40 trucks, including 2 race assistance Renault Keraxes, have been battling it out on the tracks of the first Dakar Series race between Romania and Hungary. The shorter, more technical special stages have taken the trucks onto narrow, muddy – sometimes even snowy – forest trails, to the delight of the many spectators who have come along to see the race close-up. Under these conditions, the pure race assistance trucks, including 4 Renault Trucks, will be able to offer a welcome helping hand during the evening stop-overs.
1,164 km, of which 287 in special stages, have already been covered during the first three stages of the Central European Rally by the 40 trucks signed up for the race.
The first special stage, some 40 km from Budapest, on a hard, rutted track reminiscent of those of Africa, was something of a warm-up for all the competitors before they embarked upon the capricious routes of the Carpats in Romania.
The second special stage was full of surprises… After 40 kms’ liaison on the winding roads of the slopes of the Carpats taking them to the start of the special stage in the little village of Mara, the competitors set off on the 75 km of undulating tracks through fields, steppes and, most challengingly, the daunting, and still-snowbound, pine forests.
The track, which in places had been dug down to over 86 cm by the 96 motorbikes, 18 quads and 84 cars that had already been through, was too much for some trucks which got stuck in the mud. Happily, the community spirit of the truck world came through, and the Belgian driver Roland Hoebeke, in his Kerax 6x6 along with others, were all prepared to take time out to drag their unlucky adversaries out of the quagmire: the Dakar spirit, which made the race a unique event of its kind, was even to be found in Central Europe.
This event, which was thrown together in a matter of a few weeks, and brought a truck race of this kind to Central Europe for the first time, is a real challenge for the competitors and a source of immense joy for the many spectators lining the route. As each truck went through, you could feel the forest vibrate underfoot with the cries of the crowd and the trucks’ horns as they blasted their reply.
The coming stages promise their own set of surprises for the competitors, and further challenges for the straight assistance trucks at the overnight camps. Everyone fully deserves a warm welcome on Lake Balaton on Saturday !