RBRomaniacs ROU Day

Red Bull Romaniacs 2022: Battle of the generations rages on, Manuel Lettenbichler conquers the high mountains

 Sibiu, Romania, 28 July 2022 – Red Bull Romaniacs Offroad Day 2 was a tough one to wake up to. There was just enough rain early morning to make a slight difference on the tracks, it was still dusty in parts but some better traction in others. Gold competitors were sent directly into two steep sections “Romanian Style’ and ‘Enough’ right before the Live Maniacs section on ‘Titanic’, familiar to some competitors as it has been a signature section in the Gold class for four years. Although it was a heavy start, the day was not as gruelling as yesterday’s, which was one gnarly section after the other. Some of the sections they would tackle later in the day were ‘Man Ridge’ and ‘Kiss me Baby’

Today the competitors would experience some wide open areas and mountain riding in the high alpine reaching altitudes of over 2000 metres where a combination of technical single track and flowy alpine riding made for less brutal torture but the tracks would seem endless. The finish for today was at the top of the Rânca ski resort which also opens up new terrain in the Valcea county region for the Offroad Day 3 tracks.

RBRomaniacs ROU Day

For all five classes it was a longer riding day and across the board everyone felt it. After two days riding fatigue starts to set in and for some riders the elevation may also be a factor. The faster sections in the alpine grass were slippery and damp so competitors had to be on the ball. For those who reached the finish earlier the weather was still 20 degrees and visibility was good, offering the spectacular mountain and lake views that Romaniacs has become famous for. For many riders it is not only the wide variety and scale of the terrain but the stunning scenery that makes it such an enduro paradise. However, the only thing that is predictable in these mountains is the unpredictable weather and temperatures dropped quickly as the cloud moved it and it became cool and damp for the later finishers.

First out on the tracks today was Graham Jarvis (GBR, Husqvarna), giving him the advantage of no riders or dust in front of him, in contrast to yesterday when he started out in eleventh position. Jarvis quickly found his ‘happy place’ in the 60 degree inclinations and off camber traverses of ‘Titanic’, for the master of traction and slippery, technical terrain this was like a stroll in the park.

Mario Roman (ESP, Sherco), was once again hot on the throttle as he tried to close the time gap and he succeeded in completing the three stages of Live Maniacs with the second fastest time. But it was Manuel Lettenbichler (DEU, KTM) who bulldozed through the ‘Titanic’ skipping some of the zig zags and picking a direct line up instead, a risk he was prepared to take having picked up a 2 hour penalty yesterday which will have a huge affect on his overall result. It paid off as he had the fastest times on all three stages followed by Mario Roman, Graham Jarvis and Michael Walkner (AUT). The top riders through the Live Maniacs completed the three stages in over an hour and a half faster than those gold riders further down in the rankings, emphasising the difference between the elite pro riders who are in a league of their own, continually surpassing themselves each year and increasing the gap on the rest of the hard enduro racers.

RBRomaniacs ROU Day

Teodor Kabakchiev (BGR) gave a star performance and made very few mistakes all day, even on the very steep technical sections which he cleaned smoothly. Kabakchiev maintained a strong time throughout the day and was flying through the flowy sections wide open. He kept his advantage over Mario and finished in third position behind Mani Lettenbichler and Graham Jarvis. What stood out today was the speed of the Gold competitors who were able to maintain consistent speeds through the tough sections as well as the fluid tracks, with no respite, such endurance requires astonishing levels of physical fitness.

Mani: “Stoked about my riding today, definitely raced my heart out today. I had a good day on my bike, awesome scenery, awesome day. Pretty fast day, hopefully we’re gonna have some more hard sections tomorrow”

Graham: “It’s been one of those days it just went on and on, you think the finish is around the corner or over the hill but it goes on and on! Nothing really difficult, a lot of rough tracks, wears you down in the end. Really happy with the way I’m riding, made a couple of mistakes lost 30 seconds here a minute there but overall really happy, fatigue is starting to set in but I’m really happy to be here a year after my knee and now I’ve just gotta keep going”

Two competitors who both said they only came to compete at this year’s Red Bull Romaniacs for fun were Chris Birch (NZL, KTM) in Silver class and Matthias Walkner (AUT, KTM) in Bronze class, both switched their mindset overnight from ‘fun’ to ‘serious’ having had such a strong performances on Offroad Day 1. Chris Birch, charged strong with his KTM 500 exc and finished in first position. Matthias Walkner lost some time but still ranked fifth for the day on his 450cc rally factory Dakar motorcycle and has not lost sight of being in the top three at Red Bull Romaniacs.

Chris Birch “Long day, first half of the day I had no flow, no feeling, same after the service point, then about an hour later I really felt the grove, rocks and traction all seemed to be in the right places and it felt like nothing could go wrong. Up here in the mountains in these alpine trails is why I wanted to come back to Romania, beautiful, a sick day”

Silver class had a fast start to the day followed by some more technical loops later on. The tracks had good traction on the tougher terrain, it was a long and vigorous day but competitors experienced the spectacular alpine views. The Silver class seems to be a battle back and forth between the same three riders so far, today Chris Birch (NZL, KTM) finished first, Fabien Poirot (FRA) in second position and Adam Giles (AUS) in third position.

Bronze class had a harder day than yesterday although they were bluffed at the start with some fast, fluid tracks that soon turned into more Romaniacs style with rocks, logs and some narrow up and downhills in the high alpine. Edgars Silins (LVA) was first for the day today, Marius Achim Popovici (ROU) was in second position and Alexis Bérépion (FRA) in third.

RBRomaniacs ROU Day

Iron and Atom classes both put their endurance to the test with some flowy tracks that turned into some more technical slippery rocks, off camber traverses and up and downhills to give them a taste of the real Red Bull Romaniacs. Competitors showed true sportsmanship as they helped each other through the tougher sections. Both these classes cover a broad spectrum of demographics all with the same hope, to become a Red Bull Romaniacs finisher.

All competitors, their support crews, press, media and family met up at Rânca ski resort where they will spend the night and not return to Sibiu until Friday evening. Rânca is in the Transalpina region and is one of the most beautiful areas in the Carpathian mountains. Track Director, Teo Isaac, chose this area to create fresh tracks, venturing into a new wilderness which places all the competitors on an even playing field for Offroad Day 3.

‘Live Maniacs’ will be streamed at the later time of 11:45 – 13:00 (EEST) – Friday July 29 Offroad day 3. Gold class and F.I.M Hard Enduro World Championship competitors will complete 3 stages with live coverage, track description and commentary from Craig Stone and Darryl Curtis.

Ernesto Araiza

Being born right in the heart of Off-Road Racing, Ernesto always had a dream to be an Off-Road Racer. After finish college he ditched his engineer career to chase the dream of action photographer. It didn't took long to get spotted by MadMedia where he still works. In less than 5 years after 'going pro' he reached some of the most important peaks in his life working for several international brands and events like the Rally Dakar. After 30 years of dreaming, he still have one goal in mind, to keep his face full of dust.