Despite everything looking great few days prior to the RSSD, the weather turned out bad. Preparations for the 8th RSSD were going smoothly untill the last moment. The first day, Friday 24th of November was reserved for the official #RSSD party, on which, competitors their team members, visitors and organizers have relaxed and had a lot of fun. Some of them continued partying till the dawn.
On Saturday, 25th of November, for the first time ever Shakedown was held, meaning drivers had official training. If we take into account that such small club is working on this project, we have every right to ask ourselves „Did they need more work?“. The answer is simple – contestants were demanding such event. So, when we take into account the fact that this all is being organized because of the pure love for rally and gravel, enough is said. The ones who were participating on the Shakedown, know it was done perfect-without any flaw. First of all lake Orešje is the location that resembles Savršćak track quite well, then perfectly carried out timing and security and last but not least free entrance, typical for RSSD. In order to say a few words about Shakedown we need to rewind a couple of days backward. At that moment, still preliminary, entry list was counting over 140 crews. Pretty big number, which appears more impressive when we realize that RSSD has the limit on 120 crews. But, organizers as if they knew that this year will be record breaking, have added to the Supplementary regulations a sentence, saying in case of applying more than 120 crews, the organizer has right to reject applications or to increase the number of crews on the start. Clearly they have decided to test their own limits and in the end final list had 136 crews! It is important to emphasize that this race is held during the pre-winter time, when the sun sets very early, so to be able to allow start of 123 cars for five times you need to have a flawless organization. 33 crews decided to participate on the earlier mentioned Shakedown, which in average is the number of cars for some other competitions of this type in Croatia. Between applied crews there were this year’s favorites, Péter Ranga – Tamás Szöke, Andreas Aigner – Ilka Minor, Krisztián Hideg – István Kerék crew, but also Pétera Ranga’s brother, László Ranga jun. with his co-driver Fodoro Adam Gabor. Of course, all of them came to Sveta Nedelja with top R5 cars, of which there was 9 in total on start. Every applied crew had an opportunity to drive Shakedown for five times and for the final order the best time was taken into account. Lászlo Ranga jun.’s good score was undoubted, but in the same time it was suprising when he overtoped the biggest favorite, his brother Péter Ranga. Miklós Maricsek – Viktor Bán and Krisztián Hideg – István Kerék crew were also faster than Péter.
Later that day RSSD moved to the Ante Starčević square in Sveta Nedelja, where, after interesting „Race before race – Husqvarna Rider Challenge”, traditional ceremonial start was held. There is not much new to say, we all know that here the same attention is paid to the well known drivers as well as those who are still entering the world of queen of automotive sport. There were veterans of Croatian automotive sport: Nenad Lončarić – Tomislav Pazman, Darko Rafaj – Igor Kovačić te Davor Jurjević – Dražen Mohor crews. And here you can sense the spirit of RSSD : R5 i WRC next to the Yugo, Lada and Fiat 126, top names of European automotive sport next to the Croatian veterans. Where can you find so many diversity connected into one beautiful (gravel) story?
And finally, on the 3rd day of this happening, on Sunday 26th of November at 8:05 the first of five RSSD special stages started. This year, track for the all five stages was identical, but first two were driven in one and the rest in another direction. Location was also the same as always – Savršćak gravel pits. Along with the light rain, clouds and cold wind Péter Ranga in his Škod Fabia R5 was first to try famous RSSD gravel. From the beginning this year’s favorites were Andreas Aigner with co-driver Ilka Minor (Škoda Fabia R5). But, after first few curves it was clear who is getting around better. Aigner spined on the track, laging behind Ranga for 11,7 sec, finally he was fourth, behind Antal Kovacsa – Gergő Istovics (Ford Fiesta R5) and Lászlo Ranga jun. – Fodora Adam Gabor (Škoda Fabia R5).
The second special stage started with 7 minutes delay, which affected Pétera Ranga’s concentration. Although still being first in overall ranking, test he finished 2nd special stage as 3rd, behind Andreas Aignera and his brother Lászlo Ranga jun.
Third special stage, which was delayed for 41 minutes, but the race was temporary stopped for 50 minutes. Inspite, Péter Ranga kept leading position. Antal Kovács set back to the 4th position with the change of the direction of the special stage, 2nd place was taken over by Andreas Aigner. László Ranga jun. got to the 3rd position. By the ending of 3rd special stage, dou to the multiple breaks and delay of nearly 100 minutes , rally Stewards decided not to keep up with the last, 5th special stage. Despite all the AK Delta Timing effort and great job Daut Damarija did, it wasn’t possible to held the 5th special stage in the limited time.
On the last, 4th special stage which started at 15:20 (5 minutes after the predicted time for beginning of 5th Special stage) Péter Ranga and Tamás Szöke confirmed their victory they came for, and which they have lost last year for 0.9 sec by leaving Andreas Aignera and Ilka Minor 14 sec behind them.
Third place in overall order and class NO LIMIT went to Antal Kovács and Gergő Istovics. In class SPRINT won Nejc Mrak and Luka Kuštrin (Suzuki Swift 1.3 GTI), second were Lénárd Lakatos and Ferenc Hardi (Suzuki Swift GTI), and third Primož Benčina and Matej Dolenc (VW Polo). class PRO SPORT won Balázs Siebel and Tamáso Siebel (Toyota Corolla), 2nd place went to Dejanu Kirinčiću and Duško Banjeglav (Renault Clio Sport), and 3rd Tomas Hrvatin and Marko Stiperski (Renault Clio RS). RWD class for rear-wheel drive cars went to Árpádu Stepán and Peter Magyar (Lada VFTS), second place was taken by Josip Žagar and Walter Kisch (Toyota Corolla GT AE86), and 3rd Mathias Haas and Birgit Gangl (BMW 318iS). Competitors were also divided into six Trophies. in CO-DRIVER LADIES TROPHY won Ilka Minor, 2nd was Tanja Brenn, and 3rd Alexandra Viáradi. First place in AUTO KREŠO RWD TROPHY went to Árpád Stepán and Peter Magyar (Lada VFTS), 2nd to Josip Žagar and Walter Kisch (Toyota Corolla GT AE86), 3rd to Mathias Haas and Birgit Gangl (BMW 318iS). In BOSCH VETERAN TROPHY category won Nenad Lončarić together with Tomislav Pazman (Subaru Impreza STI), 2nd place went to János Szilagyi with co-driver Alexandra Viarádi (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X), and 3rd to Davor Jurjević and Dražen Mohorom (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX). In category PRODUCTION CAR TROPHY first place went to Miklós Maricsek and Viktor Bán (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX), and 2nd to Aljoša Novak with Jak Cevco (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X), and third were Balázs Kaltenecker and Zoltán Topp (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX). LADA TROPHY is Hungarian category, it is no surprise first three places went to this country: 1st place Árpád Stepán and Peter Magyar (Lada VFTS), 2nd place Endre Hollósi and Miklós Ferenci (Lada VFTS), 3rd place Árpád Balatonyi (Lada VFTS). And lastly in category EBC BRAKES JUNIOR TROPHY won Croatians Marko Lončarić and Anto Katić (Subaru Legacy GT), second place went to Nejc Mrak and Luka Kuštrin (Suzuki Swift 1.3 GTI), and 3rd to Lénárd Lakatos and Ferenc Hardi (Suzuki Swift GTI). Andreas Aigner and Ilka Minor (Škoda Fabia R5) overall runner-ups also won prizes for the most attractive jump and ride.
We will shortly go back to the beginning of this text and explain connection between bed weather, accident with happy ending and delays during 2nd special stage. Severe bad weather during the night on Sunday ruined whole week of preparing track for the race in just one hour. A couple of RSSD and gravel enthusiast spend the night on strong wind, rain and 0 degree temperature.
Every tape, fence and net was put back to its original position in order to prepare everything for the RSSD race at 8 o’ clock, and safety of spectators brought to the highest possible level. Some of them even compete in the race-after they spend the night wide awake. But, as they say, it is more than rally love.
Just before second special stage only one person from thousands of spectators and media representatives has chosen zone forbidden for spectators and media, by Safety plan (covering more than 80 pages) pointed out as dangerous zone. After he was warned by clerc of the course Daut Damarija, he decided to leave the area and 2nd special stage could finally begin. During the 3rd special stage two people were running over the track during the race and one of them was, luckily, lightly injured. Both of them were running over the track inspite of marshalls, security staff and other spectators shouting. Rally is an extremely dangerous sport, for competitors as well as for spectators and media representatives. It is of the highest importance to obey markings by the track and stay in the marked zones for audience and media. Every fence, tape and net was set to ensure the safety of spectators. Also, marshalls and security staff are there for the same reason – to look after spectators safety.
Despite all of the troubles, 8th RSSD has its place in the history of Croatian automotive sport as the record breaking one. True fans of the sport will remember it as amazingly organized event without any organizers laps. With an increased number of crews, Shakedown, publication of Guide for spectators, they have donethe significant job. They gathered more partners than ever-one of them was Marco Carrara – Davor Belić crew with their companies Kaspar papir, Grafko Caspar and Atec as general sponsors of RSSD, they also got to the great 7th place in their Ford Fiesta R5 and first time on gravel. Loris Rrosati traveled all the way from San Marino preform with his APE three wheel car for RSSD spectators. More than 200 people were involved in the organization of the event, hosts, owners of lakes and every other person who helped make this event memorable and contributed in any way.
Competitors from 8 countries and a lot of female co-driver, even two female drivers are only small piece of this growing show. Preparations for the 9th RSSD have already began, and by then you can, together with us, enjoy numerous photo galleries and videos!Photo gallery of 8th RSSD