Europe has a robust and vibrant rally racing culture, and it’s no surprise that the European rally scene is growing year on year. Despite the pandemic, the Hellas Rally Raid was a success; Greece Really and Iberian Rally are scheduled for September and November and registrations are filling up fast. Somewhere in the middle, however, there are hybrid and practice rally events and a grassroots rally race poised to become the next big thing. If you’re still not sure you want to try a full race, one of these three events can be the perfect introduction to the world of rallying:
Currently in progress, Gibraltar race is something of an ADV rally. Open to all riders on all bikes, the Gibraltar Race is traditionally held across Europe starting in Romania and ending in Gibraltar; This year, due to COVID restrictions, the rally is confined to Italy. 7,000 kilometers in total, seventeen days of racing and fourteen stages, the rally is, on the one hand, a serious challenge. On the other hand, it is much more accessible to adventurers; navigation is GPS-based, not roadbook-based, and you can race anything from a dirt bike to a mid-size dual-sport or 1200cc adventure bike.
Notoriously, the Gibraltar Race 2019 was won by Renato Zocchi aboard… a scooter. A 750cc Honda X-ADV scooter, to be precise, and Zocchi is a Dakar veteran, but still: if you’re looking to experience what rally racing is like without having to invest in a roadbook navigation kit or you Getting a KTM450, the Gibraltar Race might be the answer.
Bosnia Rally is a rally format training event that takes place at the end of July. Organized by Geman Stefan Rossner, Rally Bosnia has grown so rapidly that it’s obvious events like this are needed: what was previously a modest three-day roadbook navigation rally practice event is now a five-day hybrid rally, offering participants conditions mimicking real rally racing without the pressure of timing. Having done Rally Bosnia myself, I can attest that the scenery is spectacular, the stages are extremely well planned, the driving as varied as possible – from the single rocky track to the fast open sections – and the camaraderie of the bivouac is unprecedented. Registration for Rally Bosnia 2021 is now closed, but if you’re looking for a rally practice event to learn roadbook navigation, improve your driving skills and get an idea of what to expect at a race rally, Bosnia is a fantastic event to try.
This year, Dinaric Rally celebrates its second edition, but in just one year the event has grown from a chaotic three-day race to a five-day sailing rally. Last year Dinaric was all about a crazy enduro race in the Dinaric Alps; this year, the ORGA foresees serious abuse over very long distances, putting the riders to the test. Sound-wise, Dinaric may prove more brutal than Rally Albania, but if you’re into pain, long stages and timeless glory, Dinaric Rally is a great choice.
Apart from European practice events and rally races, North Africa is famous for its big desert rallies such as Merzouga, Africa Eco Race, etc. However, these races are as brutal as they are expensive and may not be within the reach of the average adventurer; 1000 duna, on the other hand, is. Taking place in the fall between Granada and Merzouga, 1000 Dunas is poised to become that mid-level rally open to enthusiasts, adventurers and other thrill-seeking souls looking to take part in a desert rally. without having to sell their organs to pay for it.
1000 Dunas is organized by Miguel Puertas, a former Spanish Air Force pilot and nine-time Dakar Rally finalist; According to him, 1000 Dunas is a brutal, high-intensity challenge in the Saharan dunes, minus the pressure of timing. 1000 Dunas is, in many ways, also a hybrid event where riders are judged on navigation accuracy rather than speed – an ideal scenario for someone who wants to try desert rallying and dune cruising. without feeling the pressure to go faster. 1000 Dunas has several different classes – Adventure Raid, Classic, Trail, Hard Trail, Pro and Elite, and some classes are GPS based rather than roadbook based. In other words, it’s the perfect introduction to desert racing with affordable entry fees, untimed stages, and plenty of room to learn and improve.
Would you rally if you ADV? Do you have any sights on any of the introductory, hybrid or rally practice events this year? If not, what is stopping you? Share in the comments below!