One does not need to be a political scientist to be aware of the crisis in Eastern Europe as Ukraine continues into its fourth month of defence from Russian invasion. Those closer to the conflict naturally feel more of its brunt, and this is especially prevalent in Ukraine’s ally and eastern neighbour Poland who has supplied weaponry, humanitarian aid, and a safe location for Ukrainian troops to train.
While Poland is not sending troops across the shared border to assist Ukraine, military activities made the annual Rallye Breslau, the largest amateur off-road rally in Europe, significantly more challenging to oversee for organiser RBI Sport Ltd. The 2022 rally formally began on Monday in Żagań, where the 11th Armoured Cavalry Division is headquartered alongside a rotation of American armoured combat units, before heading to a Polish army training grounds in Drawsko Pomorskie by Wednesday. As it took place on military land, routes were approved by the Army.
Motorsport on active military installations is not a new concept. Also in the off-road realm, Extreme E‘s upcoming Island X Prix takes place on an Italian base in Capo Teulada while Global Rallycross raced on the United States Marine Corps’ New River Air Station in 2015 and 2016. Such events are coordinated between race organisers and the host armed forces, which can present challenges if the area is being used in a time of crisis; the Island X Prix had been delayed to July as the Italian Army launched exercises while keeping an eye on the Russo-Ukrainian War. Extreme E also concluded its 2021 season finale on the British Army’s Bovington Training Area.
With the Polish Armed Forces on increased alert as the invasion happens next door (prompting an increase in defence spending to raise more troops), its actions forced RBI to be proactive in ensuring the rally continues without a hitch as early as the start, when the first leg was delayed as racers had to wait for on-base actions to conclude. Once the race began, the Extreme Cars and Trucks categories had to settle for different terrain from what their vehicles are accustomed to as their preferred routes were unavailable.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle came on the third day as army training was extended and overlapped with the rally, forced the leg to be shortened and postponed to nighttime. Access routes for the bivouac also had to be relocated, a matter exacerbated by incorrectly parked race assistance vehicles.
“It was a really big challenge to organise and manage the race,” said race director Alex Kovatchev. “With the very complicated political, economic and with many other crisis situations in Europe, I think this was the most difficult rally to make in my whole long career.
“But I think we made it, and we made it very well, according to the highest standards of RBI International. I saw that the competitors were happy and that makes myself even happier.”
|ATV||69||Rafal Jawien||Polaris Polska Racing Team||10:39:18|
|Car Limited||255||Piotr Borys, Michal Goleniewski||GTC Transport||12:41:41|
|Car Open||218||Urvo Mannama, Risto Lepik||Rally Raid Estonia||9:38:31|
|Enduro||28||Nerimantas Jucius||Specialist Racing Team||10:37:20|
|Extreme Cars Limited||309||Oliver Schwermann, Marc Brosig||North-South Racing Team||24:15:31|
|Extreme Cars Open||310||Romain Porchere, Lea Gauthier||Construmental 4×4||14:36:49|
|Extreme Trucks Big||466||Henri Verhoeven, Melvin Dammers, Roel Kremers||VMD Rallysport||17:23:58|
|Extreme Trucks Small||453||Steffen Braun, Patrick Toepfer, Christian Koepke||Unimog-Racing.de||13:44:30|
|SSV||105||Michiel Becx, Edwin Kuijpers||Arcane Fatory Racing||9:21:24|
|Truck Big||411||Benjamin Kittler, Oliver Geertz, Silvio Kelch||Kittler Racing||12:39:18|