The world renowned annual Red Bull Romaniacs extreme enduro event in central Europe is not for the faint-hearted, the weak or the fearful and that’s perhaps why this brutal dirt bike marathon appeals to a growing band of intrepid Kiwi motorcycle racers.
Tokoroa’s Sean Clarke has competed in this gruelling event in the rugged Carpathian Mountains of Romania on a number of occasions and this year he will again lead a large contingent of New Zealand entrants.
The five-day race runs from July 12-16, starting and finishing in the town of Sibiu.
“There has been a core group of us who have gone to race at The Romaniacs since about 2011 – myself, Taupo’s Mark Delatour and Glen Eden’s Chris Birch – and we’ve all returned safely and in one piece to pass on our stories about the event. There’s a great atmosphere there and we tell the riders back home that they should give it a crack.”
Birch won the race outright in 2010, the only New Zealander ever to do so, but he will not be competing this year.
“Many other riders have joined us in the years that followed and an interest in contesting this race has grown,” said Clarke.
“We had 12 New Zealand riders go over in 2012, then 24 the following year and now we have 29 who will tackle the race.
“Nothing really compares to the difficulty of New Zealand hard enduros, where it’s very hard to survive until the end, so we tell these guys there’s nothing for them to fear in Romania.”
New Zealander riders Jake Whitaker, Dougy Herbert and Phillip Cheater are entered in the premier “gold” class this year, while fellow Kiwis Craig Thompson, Rob Fraser, Mark Delautour, Raymond Lampriere, Jacques Bakkenes, Warren Laugesen, Josh Hunger, Grant Herbert, Sean Clarke, brothers Hamish and Angus Macdonald, Carey Thompson, Wayne Thompson, Phil Singleton, Mackenzie Wiig, Kelly Paterson and Ryan Armitage are registered as “silver” class riders. Fellow New Zealanders Lucas, Clinton and Tony Walch, Mathew Thorburn, Ricky Kilgour, Duncan Mclaren, Robert and Michael Vandenberg and Dean Christmas are entered as “bronze” class riders.
With sponsorship support, among others, the squad has had special riding shirts made up for them, manufactured by Levin company Classic Apparel, and this means they will certainly stand out in the crowd.
The Kiwi heroes know it won’t be a walk in the park, especially if the event promoters’ own spiel is anything to go by:
“The gold class features one of the strongest line-ups ever and is in for some serious trouble. Since the skill level of the top riders is improving every year, the bar has been raised higher. The sections will not be harder than in previous years – but they are coming in higher numbers and frequency. Day two, for example, will be one of the toughest riding days in the history of the Red Bull Romaniacs and fitness will count.
“The silver class will be hit by the same hard style as in the previous years, but with fewer sections – to allow a moderate number of riders to finish.”
The New Zealand squad is supported by Motorcycling New Zealand, Satco Logging Equipment, Kiwi Rider magazine, Forest Trail Events, Enza, Stihl Shop Cambridge, KTM Makzgear, Power Farming Taranaki, Korito Farms and Xquizitehomes.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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