Rally Bulgaria

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Kimi Räikkönen in SS7 "Lyubnitsa" 41'st Rally Bulgaria 2010
Dimitar Iliev is the second Bulgarian pilot – winner of the rally.
Krum Donchev win in 2008.

Rally Bulgaria is the most prestigious and the oldest rally event in Bulgaria. It was a confirmed event for the 2010 World Rally Championship season, as the seventh of the thirteen planned events. 2010 was the first and so far only time that Rally Bulgaria have been in a World Rally Championship season, having previously hosted races for the European Rally Championship.[1] The application was accepted by the FIA despite the fact that Rally Bulgaria's candidate rally in July 2009 ended in an accident which killed Italian co-driver Flavio Guglielmini[2] and seriously injured Swiss driver Brian Lavio.[1] Bulgaria was the only new candidate for the 2010 World Rally Championship season, although Rally Argentina had made a reserve application just in case Bulgaria's application failed.[2]

The route is near the resort and also HQ of the rally Borovetz ski resort.[3]

A brief history of the Bulgarian Motorsport[edit]

Through the years, Bulgarians have always been interested in the motorsport in one way or another. For the first Bulgarian Motorsport event is considered the 1914 race held around the capital Sofia, which has been won by the Bulgarian Dimitar Pehlivanov. Many years of various motorsport events follow after this first try, and every time the races grew bigger and more complicated than the previous ones.

From Bulgarian only, the events acquired International status, because of the gathering of pilots firstly from the Balkan Peninsula countries (Romania, former Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey) and then from the former Soviet Union countries (Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, etc.) and most of the West European countries ([West] Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain, etc.).

The first years of the Bulgarian Motorsport were the years when the car, as a necessity, was not a normal thing as it is today. In this first period (from the end of the 19th Century till the mid 20th Century) the motorsport in Bulgaria was a privilege only for some people – dealers, owners of factories or service-stations, and some enthusiasts (mechanics, ordinary chauffeurs).

In the mid 1950s, when the automobiles in Bulgaria were already comparatively widespread, began the second period of nation’s motorsport development. The newest history of the Bulgarian Motorsport dates back to 1958 when the Bulgarian Automobile Tourist Club (BATC), which after that helped the sport, was established. A year later, in 1959, was organized the first true rally event. Its start was in Sofia and the itinerary covered 275 km in West and North-West of Bulgaria.

In the next year 1960 it was decided that the Bulgarian Rally Championship for that year would be proceeded as a "Circuit of Bulgaria". In 1961 was held the inaugural ladies rally "8th March" – the first motorsport activity, which shows the interest of the Bulgarian women in the sport. In 1963 was held the first Kart Race, while in the following year 1964 was opened the Renault Factory in Plovdiv (the second biggest town in Bulgaria), which had great positive influence in the Bulgarian Motorsport.

1967 marks the next step of rally sport’s development in Bulgaria. Few years later some of the events became traditional rounds of the Bulgarian Rally Championship:

But before all of these rallies, in the summer of 1970, was established the first International Rally Zlatni Piassatzi (translated: Rally Golden Sands), which the same year gathered 36 crews from Bulgaria, Poland, Yugoslavia and Germany. Later, the rally changed several times its name (Rally Zlatni, Rally Albena, etc.), while in 2002 it changed also its location. Since then the rally is known as Rally Bulgaria.

From Rally Zlatni Piassatzi 1970 to Rally Bulgaria 2010[edit]

Rally Bulgaria is the oldest and most prestigious motorsport event in Bulgaria. Its first name was Rally Zlatni Piassatzi (translated: Rally Golden Sands) and it started for the first time on 12 June 1970 in front of Hotel International, located in the sea resort, carrying the same name, Zlatni Piassatzi. Just year and a half later the rally commission of the then Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile (FISA) confirmed it as a part of the European Rally Championship. The rally was the first event, which brought in a closed special stage (a characteristic feature of the rally included in its first running back in 1970).

In 1975 the rally was awarded with Coefficient 3 (the highest then was Coefficient 4). Another three years later and on 10 October 1978 the rally commission of FISA, after gathering a total of 123.5 points for the Bulgarian rally, awarded it with the 4 "stars" of difficulty. On the same date the event was included in the 10 super European rallies, which determined the European Rally Championship. After all the positives, in 1979 FISA took back one of the fours stars, because of "weaknesses in the organization", as the observers have written on the past rally report.

In 1984 the headquarters of the rally moved from the sea resort Zlatni Piassatzi to its neighbor resort Albena (both held near third biggest town in BulgariaVarna). Four years later the International Automobile Federation awarded the Bulgarian rally again with the highest coefficient of difficulty, which by this time was already 20 "stars". Since then, until 2003, the rally was fixed in the highest group of rallies with Coefficient 20, which made up the calendar of the European Rally Championship. From 2004 to 2009 including the rally was also part of this highest group of rallies, but the "stars" have disappeared, while the championship was named just European Rally Championship. Both 2008 and 2009 Rally Bulgaria was a World Rally Championship Candidate Event.

Actually, in the last twenty runnings of the event (till 2002), less than one fifth of the itinerary was based around the HQ resorts. The most of it was located in the Balkan Mountains around towns of Sliven, Shoumen, Tvarditza, Elena with their emblematic stages like "Stara Reka" (translated: "Old River"); "Tvarditza-Elena", "Varbitza", and many other…

Corrado Fontana and his co-driver Renzo Casazza during Rally Bulgaria 2008 on "Sestrimo" stage and its beautiful scenery at 2000 m above sea level along Belmeken Dam

From 2002 the rally changed its last name Rally Albena to Rally Bulgaria. This also came with the change of the location of the rally – after 32 years on the seaside, the new HQ was based more than 500 km in the West of Bulgaria, in the mountain resort Borovetz, which is located in the Rila Mountain.

This big change came after the recommendations of Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile’s observers to avoid the long liaison sections, which the rally had, to connect the seaside with the mountain stages – between 150 and 250 km in one direction. So, with less than year to think, the new rally, with its complete new route, was created and run for the past eight years.

Validity of the rally[edit]

Year(s) Valid for
1970–1971 Bulgarian Rally Championship
1972 Bulgarian Rally Championship

European Rally Championship for drivers

Soviet Union Rally Championship

1975–1976 Bulgarian Rally Championship

European Rally Championship for drivers (Coefficient 3)

Soviet Union Rally Championship – the Cup "Peace & Friendship"

1977–1981

&

1982

Bulgarian Rally Championship

European Rally Championship for drivers

(Coefficient 3, while from 1982 with Coefficient 4)

Soviet Union Rally Championship – the Cup "Peace & Friendship"

Romanian Rally Championship

Turkish Rally Championship

Greek Rally Championship

1985 Bulgarian Rally Championship

European Rally Championship for drivers (Coefficient 4)

European Rally Championship for Group A drivers

Soviet Union Rally Championship – the Cup "Peace & Friendship"

Romanian Rally Championship

Turkish Rally Championship

Greek Rally Championship

1987 Bulgarian Rally Championship

European Rally Championship for drivers (Coefficient 4)

Soviet Union Rally Championship – the Cup "Peace & Friendship"

1989 Bulgarian Rally Championship

European Rally Championship for drivers (Coefficient 20)

European Rally Championship for Group N drivers

Soviet Union Rally Championship – the Cup "Peace & Friendship"

1990 Bulgarian Rally Championship

European Rally Championship for drivers (Coefficient 20)

European Rally Championship for Group N drivers

Soviet Union Rally Championship – the Cup "Peace & Friendship"

Belgium Rally Championship

1991 Bulgarian Rally Championship

European Rally Championship for drivers (Coefficient 20)

European Rally Championship for Group N drivers

1993–1995 Bulgarian Rally Championship

European Rally Championship for drivers (Coefficient 20)

European Rally Championship for Group N drivers

FIA European Rally Cup for drivers

1996–97 Bulgarian Rally Championship

European Rally Championship

for drivers & makes (Coefficient 20)

European Rally Championship for Group N drivers

FIA European Rally Cup for drivers

Balkan Rally Championship for drivers

1998–1999 Bulgarian Rally Championship

European Rally Championship

for drivers & makes (Coefficient 20)

FIA European Rally Cup for drivers

Balkan Rally Championship for drivers

2000 Bulgarian Rally Championship

European Rally Championship

for drivers & makes (Coefficient 20)

FIA European Rally Cup for drivers

FIA Regional Rally Cup

Balkan Rally Championship for drivers

2001 Bulgarian Rally Championship

European Rally Championship

for drivers & makes (Coefficient 20)

2002 Bulgarian Rally Championship

European Rally Championship for drivers (Coefficient 20)

European Rally Championship for Super 1600 drivers

2003–2007 Bulgarian Rally Championship

European Rally Championship for drivers

2008–2009 Bulgarian Rally Championship

European Rally Championship for drivers

World Rally Championship Candidate Event

2010 World Rally Championship

Junior World Rally Championship

Recent events[edit]

Rally Bulgaria 2002, 24–26 May[edit]

The 33rd edition of the rally was an all new event, because of the change of HQ’s location – more than 500 km West from Zlatni Piassatzi and Albena sea resorts in the heart of Rila Mountain, where the new HQ Borovetz ski resort is situated. The change was a necessity for the event in order to save its Coefficient 20 for the European Rally Championship.

The rally was much more compact than the previous one, despite some of the new stages were not so technical like the classics of the previous event. Nevertheless, the new stages were also very good like the old ones and the bigger part of them offered almost a completely new challenge to the competitors.

Rally Bulgaria 2002 was the only event in the whole history of the rally, which consisted of three full competitive Legs, despite the first of them was comparatively short (just less than 60 km of special stages).

Rally route led the competitors to stages, which have never been used before in another rally (Leg 1 & Leg 2), but also to stages, which are very famous from another event of the Bulgarian Rally ChampionshipRally Hebros (Leg 3).

List of stages: Leg 1

Number Name Length (km)
SS1 Borovetz 1 8.66
SS2 Tunela 9.41
SS3 Dolno Varshilo 7.80
SS4 Topolnitza 7.78
SS5 Eledzhik 17.91
SS6 Raduil 1 8.16

Leg 2

Number Name Length (km)
SS7 Borovetz 2 8.66
SS8 Mаtivir 1 17.82
SS9 Yazovira 1 7.28
SS10 Gorno Varshilo 1 7.88
SS11 Trayanovi Vrata 1 8.97
SS12 Tzarska Bistritza 1 6.82
SS13 Mаtivir 2 17.82
SS14 Yazovira 2 7.28
SS15 Gorno Varshilo 2 7.88
SS16 Trayanovi Vrata 2 8.97
SS17 Raduil 2 8.88
SS18 Tzarska Bistritza 2 6.82

Leg 3

Number Name Length (km)
SS19 Sveti Konstantin 1 31.96
SS20 Rekata 1 12.11
SS21 Dobra Voda 1 31.66
SS22 Rekata 2 12.11
SS23 Sveti Konstantin 2 31.96
SS24 Dobra Voda 2 8.83

Rally Bulgaria 2003, 13–15 June[edit]

The second running over the new route was in 2003. Despite this, the 34th edition of Rally Bulgaria was very different from the 33rd. In fact, every rally since 2003, except 2006 and 2009, is more or less the same with this 34th edition of the event. As a beginning, the rally was in two competitive Legs again.

For the first time in 2003 it was introduced a short special stage on the streets of the HQ resort Borovetz, which carried the same name. The other new stages were "Sestrimo" and "Yundola", and also their reverse variants, which were with different length, called "Belmeken" and "Belovo" respectively. Interesting fact is that "Sestrimo" stage climbs up to 2000m above the sea level and the turbo cars are struggling on the highest points of the stage, because of the rarefied air.

Some of the stages from 2002 like "Borovetz" stage of that time (it wasn’t so much on the streets of the resort and was more like ordinary longer stage), "Raduil", which was the reversed variant of "Borovetz", and also "Tzarska Bistritza" were completely removed from the itinerary for 2003 and have never been used since then. In fact, a part of "Tzarska Bistritza" stage has been used as a shakedown for the next four years.

All of the stages from Leg 3 of Rally Bulgaria 2002 were completely removed from the itinerary too and have also never been used in the event since then (but in 2010 the bigger part of the will be back in the rally).

The short stages from 2002, like the pair "Tunela" and "Dolno Varshilo", and the next pair "Topolnitza" and "Eledzhik" were saved in the rally (and have been used ever since), but the change there was the following: both stages from the pairs were connected to each other and lengthened as well. The stage, which emerged from the first pair, was "Magistrala", while the other stage was "Tzerovo". The same happened with their reverse variants – the pair "Gorno Varshilo" and "Trayanovi Vrata" became "Slavovitza", while the last pair "Mativir" and "Yazovira" was named "Muhovo".

List of stages: Leg 1

Number Name Length (km)
SS1 Borovetz 3.04
SS2 Muhovo 29.20
SS3 Slavovitza 18.50
SS4 Sestrimo 1 31.95
SS5 Yundola 1 18.70
SS6 Sestrimo 2 31.95
SS7 Yundola 2 18.70

Leg 2

Number Name Length (km)
SS8 Magistrala 1 18.30
SS9 Tzerovo 1 29.30
SS10 Magistrala 2 18.30
SS11 Tzerovo 2 29.30
SS12 Belovo 18.60
SS13 Belmeken 23.67

Rally Bulgaria 2004, 18–19 June[edit]

With about 38% of special stages, the route from 2003 was perfect. So, the organizers of the rally decided that the 35th Rally Bulgaria 2004 will be running over the same itinerary, which has been chosen in 2003.

The only different stuff in 2004 was the little change of the length of the special stages (just with some meters ar as much as a kilometer), but all this was insignificant.

For a Shakedown of the rally was chosen a 4-kilometer part of the former "Tzarska Bistritza" stage, which in 2002 was included in Leg 2 of the rally as SS12/SS18.

List of stages:

Leg 1

Number Name Length (km)
SS1 Borovetz 2.95
SS2 Muhovo 28.89
SS3 Slavovitza 18.24
SS4 Sestrimo 1 31.98
SS5 Yundola 1 18.57
SS6 Sestrimo 2 31.98
SS7 Yundola 2 18.57

Leg 2

Number Name Length (km)
SS8 Magistrala 1 18.24
SS9 Tzerovo 1 29.08
SS10 Magistrala 2 18.24
SS11 Tzerovo 2 29.08
SS12 Belovo 18.44
SS13 Belmeken 22.27

Rally Bulgaria 2005, 8–10 July[edit]

36th Rally Bulgaria 2005 was the same as the previous two events from 2003 and 2004. This time the difference between the closest rally (this one from 2004) in terms of stages was only one – "Sestrimo" stage was shortened by a bit less than 2 kilometers. The shakedown was also the same.

List of stages: Leg 1

Number Name Length (km)
SS1 Borovetz 2.95
SS2 Muhovo 28.89
SS3 Slavovitza 18.24
SS4 Sestrimo 1 30.11
SS5 Yundola 1 18.57
SS6 Sestrimo 2 30.11
SS7 Yundola 2 18.57

Leg 2

Number Name Length (km)
SS8 Magistrala 1 18.24
SS9 Tzerovo 1 29.08
SS10 Magistrala 2 18.24
SS11 Tzerovo 2 29.08
SS12 Belovo 18.44
SS13 Belmeken 22.27

Rally Bulgaria 2006, 7–9 July[edit]

Young Georgy Tanev with his experienced co-driver Petar Sivov on 30.11-kilometer SS6 Sestrimo 2

This edition of Rally Bulgaria was the first after 2003, where there was more significant change. This change was the introducing of a brand-new stage, which has never been used before – it was "Veligrad" (12.70 km) stage and its reverse variant, named "Varvara" (also 12.70 km).

But this stage came more as rescuing attempt for rally’s itinerary than anything else. The organizers were forced to put this stage on the place of another one – "Yundola" and its reversed variant "Belovo", which was closed by the authorities for repairs.

The 30.11-kilometer variant of "Sestrimo" stage went down well in the last edition of the rally and organizers decided to save it as it was used in 2005. The Shakedown was also the same as the last few editions of the rally.

List of stages: Leg 1

Number Name Length (km)
SS1 Borovetz 2.95
SS2 Muhovo 28.89
SS3 Slavovitza 18.24
SS4 Sestrimo 1 30.11
SS5 Velingrad 1 12.70
SS6 Sestrimo 2 30.11
SS7 Velingrad 2 12.70

Leg 2

Number Name Length (km)
SS8 Magistrala 1 18.24
SS9 Tzerovo 1 29.08
SS10 Magistrala 2 18.24
SS11 Tzerovo 2 29.08
SS12 Varvara 12.70
SS13 Belmeken 22.27

Rally Bulgaria 2007, 6–8 July[edit]

Beautiful nature around Belmeken Dam (parts of the stage can be seen in the left of the dam and in the middle of the picture on the mountain)
Simon Jean-Joseph and Jack Boyere on SS7 Yundola 2

For the next 2007 organizers decided to put "Yundola" (and reversed "Belovo") stage back in the itinerary after the road repairs were already finished. So, the "Velingrad" (and reversed "Varvara") stage were removed and the route of the rally went back to its already classical shape last used in 2005.

At least, there was a difference if we compare the 2007 itinerary with that one from 2005 – the renovated "Yundola" stage was shortened by 170m, while its reversed variant "Belovo" was lengthened by 160m. Apart from that, the shakedown test remained on its usual place – on the 4-kilometer part of the former "Tzarska Bistritza" stage.

List of stages: Leg 1

Number Name Length (km)
SS1 Borovetz 2.95
SS2 Muhovo 28.89
SS3 Slavovitza 18.24
SS4 Sestrimo 1 30.11
SS5 Yundola 1 18.40
SS6 Sestrimo 2 30.11
SS7 Yundola 2 18.40

Leg 2

Number Name Length (km)
SS8 Magistrala 1 18.24
SS9 Tzerovo 1 29.08
SS10 Magistrala 2 18.24
SS11 Tzerovo 2 29.08
SS12 Belovo 18.60
SS13 Belmeken 22.27

Rally Bulgaria 2008, 11–13 July[edit]

In 2008 the rally was a World Rally Championship Candidate Event for the first time in its history. For that reason months before the rally, FIA sent some of their experts to Borovetz in order to explore resort’s possibilities to welcome a rally event from this class.

Of course, itinerary in the shape from 2003 to 2007 wouldn’t be enough to form the required at that time 340–380 km of special stages for WRC event, so the searching for new stages (with alternative and escape roads) was the main objective to the organizers, which FIA’s experts appointed.

The other change was the location of the shakedown test, because the one, used till 2007, was too far from the main Service Park of the rally (for that reason it had its "own" Service Park, which was a minus to the rally).

Antonín Tlusták and Jan Skaloud having problems on 2000m above the sea – on SS6 Sestrimo 2

Unfortunately, the new shakedown, which an expert from FIA chose, later was considered as the weakest point of Rally Bulgaria 2008. Despite it was very well situated to the main Service Park (just about 4.5 km away), the test was too fast and with too long straits, which had nothing in common with the characteristics of the stages. That was the reason why it was the first and probably the last time this shakedown was used.

Another change in the rally, which was more formal and on paper than anything else, was introduction of three competitive Days again (the term Leg was removed). But the first Day consisted of only SS1 Borovetz (2.95 km), which was run alone on Friday late afternoon.

As for the stages, the itinerary of the 39th Rally Bulgaria 2008 was absolutely the same as this one from the year before.

List of stages: Days 1 & 2

Number Name Length (km)
SS1 Borovetz 2.95
SS2 Muhovo 28.89
SS3 Slavovitza 18.24
SS4 Sestrimo 1 30.11
SS5 Yundola 1 18.40
SS6 Sestrimo 2 30.11
SS7 Yundola 2 18.40

Day 3

Number Name Length (km)
SS8 Magistrala 1 18.24
SS9 Tzerovo 1 29.08
SS10 Magistrala 2 18.24
SS11 Tzerovo 2 29.08
SS12 Belovo 18.60
SS13 Belmeken 22.27

Rally Bulgaria 2009, 17–19 July[edit]

The 40th anniversary of Rally Bulgaria was the most important event of its history. The year 2009 marked the running of the event, from which depended if it will be part of the 2010 World Rally Championship or not.

For that reason there were more significant changes made in the itinerary since 2002. As a beginning, the most noticeable change was the absence of the shortest stage of the event – "Borovetz". Instead, the rally started right off with the proper long stages, first of which was the reverse running of "Sestrimo" stage, which in the past (from 2003 to 2008) was called "Belmeken", and was driven as a last stage of the whole rally. For 2009 it was renamed "Lakavitza" and was shortened with about 2 kilometers. Next stages were the already traditional "Muhovo" and "Slavovitza", which we were used to see as the openers of this first competitive Day. The changes didn’t skip them and both were shortened as well – "Muhovo" was cut with 380m, while "Slavovitza" was reduced with just 120m. But despite the unusual itinerary and the little changes made on the stages, all of the first Day’s tests were well known to the competitors. What was going to be the new stuff of the rally would be seen on the next Day 2.

The second Day of Rally Bulgaria 2009 offered some brand-new roads, which weren’t stages alone, but when connected with some previously used ones, made up almost new stages together. This was the case with "Sestrimo" stage, which saved its name, and which was Day 2’s opener, but was really shortened from its start. In comparison with 2008, when it was 30.11 kilometers, in 2009 stage’s length was "only" 23.68 km, as the first 17.87 km of them were completely new. After this new experience, the road joined with the well known last part of "Sestrimo" stage, which runs all along the Belmeken Dam till the finish. The next stage "Yundola" was longer with just 90m than in 2008, so the change there was insignificant.

Next of the itinerary was the stage, which we knew as "Tzerovo" (the reversed variant of "Muhovo" stage). Like the new "Sestrimo", "Tzerovo" also had big changes – it was shortened a bit by its start, but was seriously reduced by its finish (with almost 9 km). The main difference with the old "Tzerovo" stage was its brand-new middle part, which passed through the village of Lyubnitza, and which was exactly 8.95 kilometers long. This part was also the reason that the stage would be renamed after the village – "Lyubnitza".

Rally cars were gathered in the entrance of the Service Park after the cancelling of the rally

The Shakedown test was also brand new, but like 2008 it was close to the main Service Park of the rally (just 6 km away). Shakedown’s only "disadvantage" was its length of only 2.58 km, but despite this the Shakedown had everything – slow turns, fast straights, and road, which was open on some places and narrow on other.

But the rally sport sometimes could be really dangerous – on the opening stage of rally’s second competitive Day the Swiss driver Brian Lavio and his Italian co-driver Flavio Guglielmini crashed heavily approximately 10 km into the new part of "Sestrimo" stage. Unfortunately, this crash costed the life of Flavio Guglielmini, who died immediately. As a result, firstly the other crews refused to continue the race, as these ones, who started the stage in front of Lavio and Guglielmini’s car passed non-competitively through the next two stages before the Service Park – "Yundola" and "Lyubnitza" – in order to cover 50% of rally’s competitive kilometers. The others went back to the Service Park through the alternative road of "Sestrimo" stage, and when all of the crews gathered there, the rally was announced cancelled with a pro-term winner Giandomenico Basso (previously co-driven by late Flavio Guglielmini). The ceremonial finish was also cancelled.

List of stages: Day 1

Number Name Length (km)
SS1 Lakavitza 1 20.41
SS2 Muhovo 1 28.51
SS3 Slavovitza 1 18.12
SS4 Lakavitza 2 20.41
SS5 Muhovo 2 28.51
SS6 Slavovitza 2 18.12

Day 2

Number Name Length (km)
SS7 Sestrimo 1 23.68
SS8 Yundola 1 18.49
SS9 Lyubnitza 1 24.00
SS10 Sestrimo 2 23.68
SS11 Yundola 2 18.49
SS12 Lyubnitza 2 24.00

Rally Bulgaria 2010, 9–11 July[edit]

In 2010, the 41st Rally Bulgaria celebrated a remarkable edition of its history – the event was part of the World Rally Championship (WRC) for the first time since rally’s initial running in 1970. For that reason Rally Bulgaria had to reply all the requirements of the FIA in order to be part of the WRC. One of most important of them is the competitive kilometeres, which, in its previous editions, were appropriate only for the European Rally Championship (250–270 km), for which the rally counted. Now FIA requires additional about 50 to 100 km by the Bulgarian rally. The organizers have solved this problem by adding some of the special stages around towns of Peshtera and Batak, last run 8 years ago, in 2002, which was the first time, when Borovetz ski resort was the host of the rally. Interesting fact is that these stages are also part of another rally of the Bulgarian Rally Championship – International Rally Hebros.

One of the biggest differences in comparison with 2009 is the absence of "Yundola" stage (and also its reversed variant "Belovo"). It was the only SS from last year without any alternative or escape road, because it was located in a mountain gorge with rocks on the one side of the road and river and rocks on the other.

As it is written above, some of the stages around towns of Peshtera and Batak will be used for the first time since 2002. Their names will be changed since the 33rd edition of the rally 8 years ago, while one of them (SS6/SS9 Peshtera) will be run also differently and will be shortened as well.

The Shakedown remains the same as in 2009 (despite it will be a bit lengthened), when it was used for the first time. The test stage will be situated between town of Momin Prohod and Gorna Vassilitza village and will be 2.65 km long.

DAY 1:

SS1 of the rally will be "Batak Lake 1" (actually it is not a lake, but a dam). It will be the same as SS21 Dobra Voda 1 from Rally Bulgaria 2002, which also was the last SS of Rally Hebros 2009. An interesting fact is that this stage, with its almost 32 km, is the longest of the rally.

Then follows SS2 Belmeken Lake 1 (it is also a dam, rather than a lake). This stage covers much of the road of 2009’s SS1/SS4 Lakavitza. The finish point is the same as the year before, but stage's initial 7 kilometers are brand new. They have never been used as a part of a special stage before (since 2003 they have been a liaison section only). This year the stage is 27.57 km long rather than the 20.41 km of SS1/SS4 Lakavitza in 2009. Another thing, raising interest here, is that in the half of the stage the rally reaches its highest point of 2059 meters above the sea level, which makes the rally maybe the highest event of the 2010 WRC after Rally Mexico.

Then a Service Park follows, after which the crews repeat both specials stages.

DAY 2:

The second competitive Day of Rally Bulgaria 2010 is the longest of the three in both terms of special stages and liaison sections.

It will start with SS5 Sestrimo 1, which, in 2010, will be 27.46 km long. The initial about 7 km of the stage were last used as a competitive mileage back in 2008 as part of the already classical 30.11-kilometer "Sestrimo" stage, while in 2009 they were only liaison section. Now, after those first kilometers, the competitors will turn right to the new part of the stage, firstly introduced in 2009. "Sestrimo" stage will finish just at the foot of Belmeken Dam’s wall and will be run for the first time in such a variant.

The initial 9 km of the next SS6 Peshtera 1 will be the same as these of SS19/SS23 Sveti Konstantin from Rally Bulgaria 2002. After those first 9 km, the competitors will reach a junction and will turn right to begin the second part of the stage, which will use the first section of SS1/SS3 Batak Lake (another 9 km), but in a reverse direction – donwhilling. Actually, the finish point of "Peshtera" stage is on the same place as the start point of SS1/SS3 Batak Lake. SS6/SS9 Pesthera is 18.13 km in length.

SS7 Lyubnitza 1 is 99% the same as in 2009, when its brand-new middle part was introduced. Unfortunately, after the accident of the mixed Swiss/Italian crew of Bryan Lavio and Flavio Guglielmini, which has happened on one of the preceding Special Stages and where the co-driver Guglielmini died, SS Lyubnitza was only passed non-competitively by some of the crews. The only difference this year is that the stage will be extended by 860m and will be 24.86 km in length.

Then a Service Park follows, after which the crews repeat the specials stages.

DAY 3:

Day 3 is the most compact day of the whole rally, and we even could say that maybe it will be the most compact of the whole 2010 World Rally Championship. If we exclude the final liaison section from the closing Service Park to the HQ, Day 3 would have between 50% and 60% of Special Stages. So, with this closing road section, the competitive kilometers will be 48.41% of Day 3’s itinerary.

The final competitive Day of the event is built by two stages, repeated twice – the classics SS11/SS13 Muhovo (29.53 km) and SS12/SS14 Slavovitza (17.73 km). In comparison with 2009, Muhovo was 28.51 km, while Slavovitza – 18.12 km, which means that this year Muhovo is extended by 1.02 km, but Slavovitza – shortened by 390m.

These two stages, as well as "Lyubnitza" stage from Day 2 (which is largery made by SS Muhovo’s route), are the only stages, which don’t have such a mountainous character like the rest of the tests. The highest point of the Day, which is part of SS Muhovo, and also is the finish point of SS Lyubnitza, is just 861m. The majority of the competitive kilometers though are situated between 300 and 700 meters above sea level.

Interesting fact is that the route of "Slavovitza" stage is located next to one of the busiest highways in Bulgaria – Trakya Highway, which connects the two biggest cities in the country – the capital Sofia and the second after it Plovdiv. Through short tunnels, the stage twists several times from right to the left under the highway.

Both runnings of the stages, of course, are separated by a Service Park. The last break in the Service is scheduled to be after the second loop through the stages, while later the crews will head for the Ceremonial Finish of the rally in front of the HQ Hotel Rila in the heart of Borovetz.

List of stages: Day 1

Number Name Length (km)
SS1 Batak Lake 1 31.77
SS2 Belmeken Lake 1 27.57
SS3 Batak Lake 2 31.77
SS4 Belmeken Lake 2 27.57

Day 2

Number Name Length (km)
SS5 Sestrimo 1 27.46
SS6 Peshtera 1 18.13
SS7 Lyubnitza 1 24.86
SS8 Sestrimo 2 27.46
SS9 Peshtera 2 18.13
SS10 Lyubnitza 2 24.86

Day 3

Number Name Length (km)
SS11 Muhovo 1 29.53
SS12 Slavovitza 1 17.73
SS13 Muhovo 2 29.53
SS14 Slavovitza 2 17.73

For the record, this is, so far, the last WRC event in Bulgaria.

Past winners[edit]

1970–1986[edit]

Edition Year Driver Co-Driver Nation Car
1st 1970 Reiner Altenheimer Hellenz Koller Germany Porsche 911
2nd 1971 Ilia Tchoubrikov Kolio Tchoubrikov Bulgaria Alpine-Renault A110 1600
3rd 1972 Sobieslaw Zasada Richard Ziskowski Poland Porsche 911
4th 1973 Sergio Barbasio Luigi Macaluso Italy Fiat 124 Abarth
5th 1974 Attila Ferjancz Jeno Zsemberi Hungary Renault 12 Gordini
6th 1975 Fulvio Bacchelli Bruno Scabini Italy Fiat 124 Abarth
7th 1976 Andrzej Jaroszewicz Bruno Scabini Poland Lancia Stratos HF
8th 1977 Reiner Alterheimer Horwik Dieter Germany Porsche Carrera
9th 1978 Franz Wittmann Helmut Deimel Austria Opel Kadett
10th 1979 Antonio Zanini Juan José Petisco Spain Fiat Abarth 131
11th 1980 Antonio Zanini Jordi Sabater Spain Porsche 911 C
12th 1981 Adartico Vudafieri Arnaldo Bernacchini Italy Fiat Abarth 131
13th 1982 Andrea Zanussi Arnaldo Bernacchini Italy Fiat Abarth 131
14th 1983 Antonio Zanini Pedro Carcia Spain Talbot Lotus
15th 1984 Carlo Capone Sergio Cresto Italy Lancia 037 Rally
16th 1985 Dario Cerrato Giuseppe Cerri Italy Lancia 037 Rally
17th 1986 Benigno Fernandez José López Orozco Spain Opel Manta 400

1987–2010[edit]

Rally name Stages Podium finishers
Rank Driver
Co-driver
Team
Car
Time
18th Rally Albena – Zlatni Piassatzi – Sliven
9 to 10 May 1987
Round 14 of the 1987 FIA European Rally Championship season (coefficient 4)
28 stages
1 Belgium Patrick Snijers
Belgium Dany Colebunders
Belgium Bastos Texaco Rally Team
Italy Lancia Delta HF 4WD
3:51:51
2 Bulgaria Stoyan Kolev
Bulgaria Boyko Ignatov
Bulgaria Camel Club
Germany Audi 80 Quattro
3:54:45
+2:54
3 Poland Andrzej Koper
Poland Krzysztof Gęborys
France Renault 11 Turbo 4:00:02
+8:11
19th Rally Albena – Zlatni Piassatzi – Sliven
14 to 15 May 1988
Round 13 of the 1988 FIA European Rally Championship season (coefficient 20)
28 stages
338.50 km
1 Italy Fabio Arletti
Italy Leonardo Julli
Italy Astra
Italy Lancia Delta HF 4WD
3:43:29
2 Italy Michele Rayneri
Italy Aldo Cigala
Germany Audi Coupé Quattro 3:44:08
+0:39
3 Bulgaria Stoyan Kolev
Bulgaria Boyko Ignatov
Germany Audi Coupé Quattro 3:50:04
+6:35
20th Rally Albena – Zlatni Piassatzi
13 to 15 May 1989
Round 16 of the 1989 FIA European Rally Championship season (coefficient 20)
28 stages
1 Belgium Robert Droogmans
Belgium Ronny Joosten
Belgium Fina Ford Rally Team
United Kingdom Ford Sierra RS Cosworth
3:35:27
2 France Yves Loubet
France Jean-Marc Andrié
Italy H.F. Grifone
Italy Lancia Delta Integrale
3:39:27
+4:00
3 Italy Piero Liatti
Italy Maurizio Imerito
Italy H.F. Grifone
Italy Lancia Delta Integrale
3:40:44
+5:17
21st Rally Albena – Zlatni Piassatzi
12 to 13 May 1990
Round 17 of the 1990 FIA European Rally Championship season (coefficient 20)
27 stages
1 Italy Fabrizio Tabaton
Italy Maurizio Imerito
Italy H.F. Grifone
Italy Lancia Delta Integrale 16V
3:05:41
2 Belgium Robert Droogmans
Belgium Ronny Joosten
Italy Jolly Club
Italy Lancia Delta Integrale 16V
3:05:43
+0:02
3 Belgium Patrick Snijers
Belgium Dany Colebunders
Japan Toyota Celica GT-Four ST165 3:05:44
+0:03
22nd International Rally Zlatni
11 to 12 May 1991
Round 16 of the 1991 FIA European Rally Championship season (coefficient 20)
30 stages
1 Italy Piero Liatti
Italy Luciano Tedeschini
Italy A.R.T. Engineering
Italy Lancia Delta Integrale 16V
3:08:08
2 Italy Fabrizio Tabaton
Italy Maurizio Imerito
Italy H.F. Grifone
Italy Lancia Delta Integrale 16V
3:08:36
+0:28
3 Italy Enrico Bertone
Italy Gianfranco Imerito
Italy H.F. Grifone
Italy Lancia Delta Integrale 16V
3:17:03
+8:55
23rd International Rally Zlatni
9 to 10 May 1992
Round 14 of the 1992 FIA European Rally Championship season (coefficient 20)
30 stages
331 km
1 Germany Erwin Weber
Germany Manfred Hiemer
Germany Team Mitsubishi Motors Deutschland
Japan Mitsubishi Galant VR-4
3:06:21
2 Austria Christoph Dirtl
Austria Jörg Pattermann
Italy Lancia Delta HF Integrale 3:12:26
+6:05
3 Poland Marian Bublewicz
Poland Grzegorz Gac
Poland Marlboro Team Poland
United Kingdom Ford Sierra RS Cosworth
3:16:28
+10:07
24th International Rally Zlatni
8 to 9 May 1993
Round 12 of the 1993 FIA European Rally Championship season (coefficient 20)
30 stages
331 km
1 France César Baroni
France Hervé Sauvage
Italy Astra
Italy Lancia Delta HF Integrale
3:20:17
2 Bulgaria Georgi Ivanov
Bulgaria Ivan Tonev
Germany Volkswagen Golf GTI 16V 3:32:49
+12:32
3 Germany Hermann Gaßner
Germany Harald Brock
Japan Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 3:35:25
+15:08
25th International Rally Zlatni
14 to 15 May 1994
Round 18 of the 1994 FIA European Rally Championship season (coefficient 20)
30 stages
331 km
1 Belgium Patrick Snijers
Belgium Dany Colebunders
Belgium Bastos Ford Credit
United Kingdom Ford Escort RS Cosworth
3:02:26
2 Italy Vanio Pasquali
Italy Luciano Tedeschini
Italy ProMotor Sport
United Kingdom Ford Escort RS Cosworth
3:04:02
+1:36
3 Italy Sergio Pianezzola
Italy Lucio Baggio
Italy H.F. Grifone
Italy Lancia Delta HF Integrale
3:09:43
+7:17
26th International Rally Zlatni
13 to 14 May 1995
Round 12 of the 1995 FIA European Rally Championship season (coefficient 20)
31 stages
371.20 km
1 Italy Enrico Bertone
Italy Max Chiapponi
Japan Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD 3:33:12
2 Bulgaria Georgi Ivanov
Bulgaria Ivan Tonev
United Kingdom Ford Escort RS Cosworth 3:36:59
+3:47
3 Italy Piergiorgio Bedini
Italy Luca Bonvicini
Italy Jolly Club
United Kingdom Ford Escort RS Cosworth
3:42:25
+9:13
27th Rally Zlatni Piassatzi
11 to 12 May 1996
Round 12 of the 1996 FIA European Rally Championship season (coefficient 20)
31 stages
1 Italy Enrico Bertone
Italy Max Chiapponi
Czech Republic Czech National Team
United Kingdom Ford Escort RS Cosworth
3:33:36
2 France Yves Loubet
Czech Republic Michal Kočí
United Kingdom Ford Escort RS Cosworth 3:34:36
+1:00
3 Austria Kurt Göttlicher
Austria Josef Pointinger
United Kingdom Ford Escort RS Cosworth 3:39:20
+5:44
28th Rally Albena – Bulgaria
17 to 18 May 1997
Round 17 of the 1997 FIA European Rally Championship season (coefficient 20)
31 stages
1 Poland Krzysztof Hołowczyc
Poland Maciej Wisławski
Poland Stomil Olsztyn Mobil 1 Rally Team
Japan Subaru Impreza 555
3:00:45
2 Italy Gianmarino Zenere
Italy Sauro Farnocchia
Italy Procar
Japan Subaru Impreza 555
3:04:15
+3:30
3 Turkey Volkan Işık
Turkey Erkan Bodur
Turkey Marlboro Ford Mobil Racing Team
United Kingdom Ford Escort WRC
3:06:48
+6:03
29th Rally Albena – Bulgaria
15 to 17 May 1998
Round 16 of the 1998 FIA European Rally Championship season (coefficient 20)
31 stages
1 Italy Alex Fiorio
Italy Nadia Mazzon
Italy Jolly Club
United Kingdom Ford Escort RS Cosworth
3:14:07.0
2 Italy Nicola Caldani
Italy Alessandro Giusti
United Kingdom Ford Escort RS Cosworth 3:16:25.4
+2:18.4
3 Russia Sergey Baldikov
Russia Anton Zinoviev
Ukraine Aleksandrov Rally Team
Japan Subaru Impreza 555
3:17:04.7
+2:57.7
30th Rally Albena – Bulgaria
21 to 23 May 1999
Round 17 of the 1999 FIA European Rally Championship season (coefficient 20)
28 stages
1 Italy Enrico Bertone
Italy Nicola Arena
Czech Republic AK Czech Pro Motorsports
France Renault Mégane Maxi
2:34:23.5
2 Czech Republic Pavel Sibera
Czech Republic Petr Gross
Czech Republic Škoda Motorsport
Czech Republic Škoda Octavia Kit Car
2:39:00.8
+4:37.3
3 Turkey Serdar Bostancı
Turkey Cihat Gürkan
Turkey Ford Motorsport Turkey
United Kingdom Ford Escort WRC
2:40:18.5
+5:55.0
31st Rally Albena
19 to 21 May 2000
Round 15 of the 2000 FIA European Rally Championship season (coefficient 20)
28 stages
1 Belgium Bruno Thiry
Belgium Stéphane Prévot
Belgium Automobiles Citroën
France Citroën Xsara Kit Car
2:29:58.4
2 Denmark Henrik Lundgaard
Denmark Jens Christian Anker
Denmark Toyota Castrol Team Denmark
Japan Toyota Corolla WRC
2:30:03.5
+5.1
3 Bulgaria Jassen Popov
Bulgaria Dilyan Popov
Bulgaria Bulrace
Japan Toyota Celica GT-Four
2:34:43.2
+4:44.8
32nd Rally Bulgaria – Albena
18 to 20 May 2001
Round 14 of the 2001 FIA European Rally Championship season (coefficient 20)
28 stages
1 Germany Armin Kremer
Germany Fred Berßen
Japan Toyota Corolla WRC 2:31:21.5
2 Russia Aleksandr Potapov
Russia Ilona Nakutis
Russia Itera
Japan Subaru Impreza WRC
2:32:13.6
+52.1
3 Italy Enrico Bertone
Italy Elisabetta Cavenaghi
Italy Procom Motorsports
France Peugeot 306 Maxi
2:33:38.1
+2:16.6
33rd Rally Bulgaria – Albena
24 to 26 May 2002
Round 12 of the 2002 FIA European Rally Championship season (coefficient 20)
24 stages
303.49 km
1 Poland Leszek Kuzaj
Belgium Erwin Mombaerts
Japan Toyota Corolla WRC 2:56:57.0
2 Poland Janusz Kulig
Poland Jarek Baran
Italy Jolly Club
United Kingdom Ford Focus WRC
2:57:54.1
+57.1
3 Russia Aleksandr Lesnikov
Russia Andrey Rusov
Russia Itera
Japan Subaru Impreza WRC
3:02:29.4
+5:32.4
34th Rally Bulgaria
13 to 15 June 2003
Round 18 of the 2003 FIA European Rally Championship season (coefficient 20)
13 stages
289.51 km
1 Belgium Bruno Thiry
Belgium Jean-Marc Fortin
Belgium Peugeot Bastos Racing Team
France Peugeot 206 WRC
2:46:21.5
2 Bulgaria Jassen Popov
Bulgaria Dilyan Popov
Austria OMV Emotion Racing Team
Czech Republic Škoda Octavia WRC
2:52:23.8
+6:02.3
3 Bulgaria Krum Donchev
Bulgaria Rumen Manolov
France Peugeot 306 Maxi 2:57:15.5
+10:54.0
35th Rally Bulgaria
18 to 19 June 2004
Round 3 of the 2004 FIA European Rally Championship season
13 stages
286.53 km
1 Italy Luca Pedersoli
Italy Daniele Vernuccio
Italy Peugeot Italy
France Peugeot 306 Maxi
2:44:34.6
2 France Simon Jean-Joseph
France Jack Boyère
France Renault Sport
France Renault Clio S1600
2:45:26.0
+51.2
3 Bulgaria Krum Donchev
Bulgaria Stoyko Valchev
Bulgaria Interspeed Nova Generazia
France Peugeot 306 Maxi
2:46:36.3
+2:01.5
36th Rally Bulgaria
8 to 10 July 2005
Round 4 of the 2005 FIA European Rally Championship season
13 stages
282.79 km
1 Italy Giandomenico Basso
Italy Mitia Dotta
Italy Procar
Italy Fiat Punto Super 1600
2:49:12.6
2 France Simon Jean-Joseph
France Jack Boyère
France Oreca
France Renault Clio S1600
2:49:32.5
+19.9
3 Bulgaria Dimitar Iliev
Bulgaria Yanaki Yanakiev
Bulgaria Boyla Auto Motor Sport
Japan Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7
2:53:38.9
+4:26.3
37th Rally Bulgaria
7 to 9 July 2006
Round 5 of the 2006 FIA European Rally Championship season
13 stages
265.31 km
1 Italy Giandomenico Basso
Italy Mitia Dotta
Italy New Business 16
Italy Fiat Grande Punto Abarth Super 2000
2:31:58.9
2 Bulgaria Dimitar Iliev
Bulgaria Yanaki Yanakiev
Bulgaria Boyla Auto Motor Sport
Japan Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9
2:33:27.4
+1:28.5
3 Bulgaria Krum Donchev
Bulgaria Stoyko Valchev
Bulgaria Interspeed Nova Generazia
Japan Subaru Impreza WRX STI
2:33:52.5
+1:53.6
38th Rally Bulgaria
6 to 8 July 2007
Round 6 of the 2007 FIA European Rally Championship season
13 stages
282.61 km
1 Bulgaria Dimitar Iliev
Bulgaria Yanaki Yanakiev
Bulgaria Boyla Auto Motor Sport
Japan Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9
2:42:50.2
2 France Simon Jean-Joseph
France Jack Boyère
France Citroën C2 Super 1600 2:43:08.1
+17.9
3 Bulgaria Jassen Popov
Bulgaria Dilyan Popov
Bulgaria Bulrace
Japan Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9
2:43:34.6
+44.4
39th Rally Bulgaria
11 to 13 July 2008
Round – of the 2008 FIA European Rally Championship season
13 stages
282.61 km
1 Bulgaria Krum Donchev
Bulgaria Stoyko Valchev
Bulgaria Prista Oil Rally Team
France Peugeot 207 Super 2000
2:42:01.8
2 Turkey Volkan Işık
Turkey Kaan Ozsenler
Turkey Fiat Motorsport
Italy Fiat Grande Punto Super 2000
2:42:08.0
+6.2
3 Poland Michal Solowow
Poland Maciek Baran
Poland Cersanit Rally Team
France Peugeot 207 Super 2000
2:43:35.4
+1:33.6
40th Rally Bulgaria*
17 to 19 July 2009
Round – of the 2009 FIA European Rally Championship season
12 stages
266.42 km
1 Italy Giandomenico Basso
Italy Mitia Dotta
Italy Giandomenico Basso
Italy Fiat Grande Punto Abarth Super 2000
1:32:16.7
2 Bulgaria Krum Donchev
Bulgaria Petar Yordanov
Bulgaria Prista Oil Rally Team
France Peugeot 207 Super 2000
1:33:45.1
+1:28.4
3 Italy Corrado Fontana
Italy Carlo Cassina
Italy Corrado Fontana
France Peugeot 207 Super 2000
1:34:17.1
+2:00.4
41st Rally Bulgaria
09 to 11 July 2010
Round 7 of the 2010 FIA World Rally Championship season
14 stages
354.10 km
1 France Sébastien Loeb
Monaco Daniel Elena
France Citroen World Rally Team
France Citroen C4 WRC
3:02:39.2
2 Spain Daniel Sordo
Spain Marc Marti
France Citroen World Rally Team
France Citroen C4 WRC
+3:03:08.7
+29.5
3 Norway Petter Solberg
United Kingdom Chris Patterson
Norway Petter Solberg World Rally Team
France Citroen C4 WRC
3:03:15.5
+36.3
42nd Rally Bulgaria
08 to 10 July 2011
Round – of the 2011 FIA European Rally Championship season
10 stages
257.76 km
1 Italy Luca Rossetti
Italy Matteo Chiarcossi
Italy National Proklama
Italy Fiat Grande Punto Abarth Super 2000
2:28:35.9
2 Bulgaria Petar Gyoshev
Bulgaria Dimitar Spasov
Bulgaria Prestige
France Peugeot 207 Super 2000
2:28:43.2
+7.3
3 Italy Luca Betti
Italy Maurizio Barone
Italy Luca Betti
France Peugeot 207 Super 2000
2:29:18.0
+42.1
43rd Rally Bulgaria
08 to 10 June 2012
Round – of the 2012 FIA European Rally Championship season
15 stages
249.88 km
1 Bulgaria Dimitar Iliev
Bulgaria Yanaki Yanakiev
Bulgaria Vivacom Rally Team
Czech Republic Škoda Fabia Super 2000
2:20:26.5
2 Bulgaria Petar Gyoshev
Bulgaria Dimitar Spasov
Bulgaria Prestige
France Peugeot 207 Super 2000
2:20:49.3
+22.8
3 Bulgaria Krum Donchev
Bulgaria Petar Yordanov
Bulgaria Globul Rally Team
France Peugeot 207 Super 2000
2:21:28.1
+1:01.6
  • in 2009 the rally was suspended after SS7 of 13 due to the crash of Brian Lavio and Flavio Guglielmini, where co-driver Guglielmini died.

See also[edit]

Rally Bulgaria 2011on RALLYLIFE.cz

  1. ^ a b "Rally Bulgaria put on WRC calendar for 2010, official says". The Echo. Retrieved 14 January 2010. 
  2. ^ a b World Rally Championship events agreed "2010 World Rally Championship events agreed". FIA World Rally Championship. Retrieved 14 January 2010. 
  3. ^ "Rally Bulgaria enters the World Rally Championship in 2010". Bulgaria Gazette. Retrieved 14 January 2010. 

External links[edit]

Used literature[edit]

"Rally Bulgaria History" – Tzvetelina Manolova