The Great Balkan Rally 2023

The Great Balkan Rally 2023

Sándor Tabányi and Márk Tabányi won the second Balkan Rally with almost perfect scores. Their 1964 'Pagoda' 230 SL Mercedes-Benz completed the nearly 1300 km distance without any problems. The victory required impeccable navigation, good sense of time, sharp logic and perfect technical condition of the vehicle. The winning pair lost only 5 minutes during the 32 hours of timed driving, solved the logic tasks that revealed the time limits without error, and not only found all the designated photo spots, but also visited the extra 3 spots for extra points. In the motorbike category, Dr. Gergő Nagy earned the laurel wreath and grand prize for the winners. 

The six-day race, divided into five stages, started from the iconic Hotel Budapest on the morning of 10 September. Nearly 100 people completed this year's Balkan Rally, with 32 cars and 5 bikes competing for the winner's title. Specialities such as the 1964 Porsche 356 C and the 1959 Austin Healey Sprite MK1 were also on the grid. This year's event also attracted a significant international interest, with English, American, Austrian, Israeli and French competitors joining the field alongside the domestic entries.

On the first day of the rally, the competitors arrived in Keszthely via the picturesque Káli Basin, where they were greeted by the impressive Festetics Castle courtyard. After the long drive, the participants could relax in the spa of Hotel Helikon**** Superior with panoramic views of Lake Balaton.

On the second day of the competition, the field had to cross two borders, arriving in Banja Luka, the capital of the Bosnian Serbian Republic, via Croatia. Here, participants enjoyed a cultural and historical tour of the colorful, mixed-religion city, followed by dinner on the hotel's rooftop terrace with unparalleled views.

The next day's stage took them to Sarajevo, where they finished at the White Fortress. An afternoon sightseeing walk gave a gastronomic and cultural taste of the Bosnian capital's eventful past, including a ride on a cable car to the bobsleigh track of the 1984 Winter Olympics for a bird's eye view of this unique site.

Perhaps the most technical, but also the most impressive stage of the race followed, crossing the Durmitor Mountains from the Bosnian-Montenegrin border to Kolasin. After the Piva Canyon, the riders passed the Bobotov Kuk peak on the plateau of the Durmitor National Park, before driving through the breathtaking scenery of the Tara Canyon and Biogradska Gora National Park. In the evening, craft beers from MONYO Brewery were on tap in the hotel car park and the riders shared the day's adventures in a relaxed atmosphere.

In the all-deciding final stage, the veteran cars and motorbikes descended through dazzling scenery into the Bay of Kotor. The final few kilometres led through seaside villages to the picturesque harbour of Herceg Novi. This year's Balkan Rally ended at the luxurious Lazure Hotel & Marina, which also served as the venue for the gala dinner and awards ceremony. 

The majority of the team joined for the encore day, driving together along the Dalmatian coast to relax after a week's hard work at Trogir's most beautiful beachfront hotel.

"Incredibly beautiful landscapes and fantastic people!" said Maya Shalev-Rozen, driver of a 1965 Triumph Tri4, when asked by Peter Guld what she liked best about the trip. According to rider Wolfgang Weiss, who raced an MV Augusta Superveloce in the Modern Classics category, "we rode along some of the most beautiful roads in the region and every driving enthusiast should experience this fantastic experience at least once in their life". Alex Poulson, a 1975 Alfa GT Junior owner, was totally satisfied with the performance of his car, crossing the finish line without any major problems.

The date for next year's rally has already been set by the organizers, with the 3rd Balkan Rally scheduled for 7-14 September 2024.

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Photo credit:

David Marvier (FR)
Dömölky Dániel (HU)
Guld Péter (HU)
Teszáry Mátyás János (HU)
Günther Tamás (HU)
Keszi Róbert (HU)