Photo Credit: Actiongraphers
Gerard Farrés repeats last year’s victory in Hellas Rally after a hard fight with Svitko where fair play was once again the main theme between these great riders.
Greece was the stage for the unique Hellas Rally Raid. Altitude, rain, fog, twisting tracks and impossible crossings in the dream landscapes did not let anyone down: these were the ingredients of a race where, through a very technical and navigation based itinerary, the HIMOINSA Team has shined once again.
Farrés set off in the prologue with the #1 plate after his victory last year and the expected fight with Svitko, who finished second in 2016, started immediately with the Slovak taking the stage win. This first day already served as a warning to all participants: navigation errors would prove very costly.
With an itinerary filled with crossroads, roadbook interpretation would be the key to the race. Cervantes and Oliveras, aboard their 450 Rally, proposed a different strategy due to being conditioned by their bike’s lesser agility in this terrain. As for Rosa Romero, she started the rally faultlessly and eager to tackle the following stages.
The second stage served as a starting point for the whole team, landing a spectacular performance which would extend through to the end of the event, placing three of their riders in the Top 5 with Farrés at the top of the standings.
The race linked Farrés in a ruthless battle with Svitko day after day, and Oliveras and Cervantes pressuring them from behind without contemplations.
With varied lengths throughout the days, the stages ranged between 70 and 300 km, which forced to develop a very studied strategy to attack in the best sectors. The rain was a fundamental factor in the race, making the difference in stages 3 and 4, making for some slippery terrain, joined as well by the fog, which made for a true challenge for Farrés to be the first rider.
Doubtlessly, the most singled out stage was the penultimate day, with an unfortunate crash for Dani Oliveras after hitting a rock, which forced him to abandon with a small crack in his collarbone and several cuts in his hand. During the same stage, Farrés stopped to help Svitko with his destroyed roadbook which made him unable to follow the course.
After attempting to repair it, they rode together with Farrés guiding the Slovak rider to the finish line, allowing him to remain in the race. Another showing of sportsmanship which characterises this couple of riders: last year the roles were inverted as it was Svitko stopping to give the Catalan rider some gasoline. A complicated day for Rosa Romero too, with problems in her rear gas tank, and an anecdote for Iván Cervantes to tell as he went down without further consequences while trying to avoid a calf standing on the track…
After seven demanding stages, the competition ended with Farrés in first position, Cervantes in a fourth place with the 450 Rally, further solidifying his transition into Rallys, and Rosa Romero in an ambitious 13th position overall, making her the winner in the women’s category and 3rd in the 450cc category.
Gerard Farrés: “I am ecstatic with my victory. The second day we attacked and came out in first place, although we were very lucky to get away from the rain, the riders in the back had to suffer so much! Opening the track in these conditions was very good for us, and the best part is that we performed wonderfully, with barely any mistakes despite it being really complicated.
“It took me a little to adapt to the feedback of the enduro bike, as we were coming from training and Merzouga Rally on the Rally bike, and it wasn’t until the 4th stage that I really felt comfortable with the bike, and it showed in the final result. The battle with Svitko was brutal, he brought out my best riding! We get along really well and I didn’t doubt to stop and help him out, last year it was him stopping to help me and that is above all competition. I had lots of fun on the track and I am really happy to bring this new success to the team.”
2017 HELLAS RALLY RAID OVERALL CLASSIFICATION
1º Gerard Farrés 22:47:59
2º Stefan Svitko + 00:04:54
3º Ondreg Klymciw + 01:00:07
4º Iván Cervantes + 01:44:44
13º Rosa Romero + 03:20:47
Photos: Hellas Rally Raid, Xrepo, Actiongraphers