Europe is home to the highest concentration of rally racing in the world, with names like Hellas, Serres, Iberian Rally, Breslau, Rally Hispania, and many more having already made their mark. There is also no shortage of rally training events, such as the Bosnian Rally or the Trans Alen Tejo, and there are several smaller events all over the continent, from Portugal and Spain to Romania, the Balkans. , Poland and beyond. This year, although this is arguably the worst time to start a new event due to COVID-19, Europe sees another race based on the rally format in Croatia: the Dinaric Rally take the stage.
The Dinaric Rally kicks off on September 11 in Knin, Croatia, and participants will have three days of driving in the Dinaric Alps, a mountainous region still largely unknown to adventurers. The rally will have GPS navigation instead of a roadbook, but the stages will be timed, making this event a transition race from a traditional rally format to an amateur training event. The average distance will vary from 230 to 170 kilometers per day, and the Knin bivouac will remain stationary with runners doing loops in the area.
Dinaric rally: from mountains to motorcycles
To find out more about this brand new event and see what Rallye Dinaric is all about, I spoke with Perica Matijevic, the driving force behind the project. Born in Bosnia and Herzegovina but based in Croatia, Perica has experience in adventure travel and mountain rescue service. “Growing up in a small village in central Bosnia and Herzegovina, I have always been fascinated by nature, adventure and exploration. After moving to Zagreb, Croatia, I got into rock climbing and mountaineering and traveled as much as I could. I have been on a few rock climbing expeditions like Mt Kenya and have done rafting, snorkeling, kayaking, sea kayaking, skydiving, paragliding, canyoning. . In 2002, I joined the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service, and nine years ago I started riding motorcycles. Soon I started off-roading and have since explored the Balkans on two wheels, often helping other cyclists and sometimes guiding tours, ”said Perica.
For him, the idea of organizing an off-road rally came naturally. “The Dinaric Alps in Croatia is a beautiful and truly unknown region, and I just wanted more cyclists to come and experience it in the best possible way – off-road. As the rally grows, I hope to eventually cover all of the Dinaric Alps from Slovenia to Albania. For this first edition, however, I have chosen a portion of the Dinarides in Croatia where the landscapes are spectacular and the driving will be phenomenal. I also hope to contribute to the efforts to find and eradicate the landmines left over from the period of the Balkan War as well as the reforestation of the area – we will plant a tree for every runner who comes to the Dinaric rally – and the city. de Knin was an excellent partner in organizing the rally and in all its endeavors. Above all, I am delighted to share this beautiful corner of Croatia with riders from all over Europe and the world, and I want this to be done in the safest way possible ”.
Safety of riders at the Dinaric Rally
Having ridden in Croatia, Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina myself, I can personally attest that this region is truly an awesome place to ride. However, why aim for a rally format instead of just going on an adventure or off-road ride?
“Due to my experience in mountain rescue, I attach great importance to the safety of cyclists, and the reality is that you cannot guarantee a high level of safety on an off-road excursion, especially if you have a large group of cyclists. A rally format, on the other hand, can give you that. All competitors will be followed, assistance will be available throughout the event, and we will have an ambulance tent with a doctor and first aid medical equipment, medical technicians on the tracks, search service vehicles and rescue team with SAR professionals and a medical technician on standby, an all-terrain vehicle with a doctor on standby and a search and rescue team available as backup to ensure the safety of competitors throughout each stage.
Safety aside, I think roadbooks are a great way to navigate, and while we won’t have roadbook navigation this year, we are definitely aiming for roadbook navigation in 2021. I’m following other races closely. rally and I see the evolution towards electric roadbooks as a more environmentally friendly option, so I think the introduction of electric roadbook navigation at Rallye Dinaric in 2021 will be perfect. For this edition it will be GPS tracks all the way, but I hope it will be useful for less experienced pilots as well as those who plan to do a rally like Hellas or Serres but feel intimidated by the roadbook ”, Perica told me.
A strange but wonderful mix between trail and rally, friendly for amateurs and concerned about the environment, promising the wild nature of the Dinaric Alps and the safety of an event organized by professionals, the Dinaric Rally certainly piqued my curiosity , and I’m sure I’ll be on that starting line in Knin in September. However, the threat of the second wave of coronavirus is still real.
“We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and are ready to make the necessary changes, however, we are confident that Croatia is handling the situation well and we hope that participants will not face COVID-related issues here. I’m willing to make full refunds if the situation gets worse, of course, but I can tell you one thing – even though the event will have to be canceled, there will be at least one person – me – who will go and walk through them. three steps. I realize that going forward with the event is a big risk, but I am confident that we will handle the situation and Dinaric Rally will celebrate its first edition this year ”.
Registrations for the Dinaric Rally in Croatia are still open with categories ranging from 250cc to 1200cc, including Veteran and Female classes available, as well as 2WD and 4wD and Quad classes.
Images: Dinaric Rally, Iva Šverko, Željko Opačić, Marko Erceg