The Breslau Rally: Day 5

Stage 4 of the Breslau Rally was 25 km longer than Stage 3, but the distance wasn’t the biggest challenge: it was the mud.

The starting point was again at the southwest corner of the camp, which is on a military base. Stage 4 took place entirely within the perimeter of the base. When our team had passed the starting point, we set out to follow the race using the many access roads that cross the area, sometimes passing alongside training areas for commandos and artillery units. At one point, rusty tanks dotted the horizon.

We found several good spots to watch and take photos, including one of the mud holes on the map for spectators near the halfway point of the race. It was a swampy passage about 50m long. The mud and water were over 2m deep in places. Even most of the trucks were winching to pass through, passing their cables around large tree trunks and pulling their massive bodies across. Relatively few vehicles made it through without winching. The trick was to have a vehicle well-adapted to the difficulty and choose the best way through it.

Our team’s Unimog made it look easy: a burst of power, down into and through the black bog, then up and over on the other side. They had made it in seconds where some of the biggest Man Kat’s would need their winches, but that situation wouldn’t last; the worst was yet to come.

We spent most of the afternoon at the mud hole, staying long enough to see two of the other cars in our team pass. As more cars and trucks struggled through and the passage wore away, it became almost impossible to cross without winching, and the second car of our team to arrive had to use the winch to get through.

As the race continued, the teams would encounter around a dozen more mud holes, some much more difficult than this one, where the cars couldn’t make it without being pulled through by one of the larger vehicles. While this might seem surprising, it’s true to the spirit of this race; the Breslau Rally is as much about determination, resourcefulness, and cooperation as it is about having the fastest, most powerful or best-prepared vehicle.


Our teams were late getting back to camp. The Unimog arrived at 9 pm and the last jeep around 10 pm. Exhausted, the co-pilots had a very hard day, climbing in and out of the car, wading in mud up to their chests, manipulating the cables for winching and taking care of the navigation in between.


It was time for dinner. Most of the teams hadn’t had a chance to snack on their energy bars during the day, but the day wasn’t over yet, because the vehicles had also suffered and needed maintenance and some repairs.

For the Unimog, the team changed the oil and fluids in the engine, transmission, axles and brakes; drained the water that had infiltrated wherever it could; and cleaned off the biggest patches of mud and grass. The brakes weren’t working well, because mud had gotten into the brake pads, so they changed those too.


The team worked hard through the night; everything had to be in good shape for Stage 5, the marathon “Hannibal” Stage that started the next morning at 6:30 am.

The Breslau Rally: Day 4

It was a day of sand, mud and winching over 152 km yesterday during Stage 3 of the Rally. After the race started, we set out to find some good spots for photos.


The map provided by the organization only listed two spots, and we hiked through the woods to get to the “canyon,” which was more of a steep climb up a small hill than anything else. The canyon was near the end of the Special, and since none of the competitors had arrived yet, we changed plans and went back to the truck to get some photos by the river crossing.

We waited for over an hour before the first car arrived. The depth of the water was at least 1.5 meters, but the first cars to arrive made it across without much difficulty. Later, there would be a lot of winching at that point.

At the start of the race the motorcycles and quads open the course, with the cars and light trucks following in that order. Trucks over 7.5 tons are the last to start. As the race progresses, the order of departure depends on the overall ranking of the vehicle. Although the motorcycles and quads always start before the cars and trucks, the latter start in order according to the ranking. As the race unfolds, many cars end up behind the heavy trucks, making the route even more difficult as the trucks degrade the dirt tracks as they pass.

At the crossing, when the trucks passed they dug into the mud, making the passage even deeper, and many cars were floating across and being pulled at the end.

The team had a hard day, and the last to return didn’t arrive at camp before 9:00pm. The Unimog was overheating because of all the caked-on mud, and the crew had to stop and clean some of it off as best they could. When they arrived, hungry and tired, the work wasn’t over: it was time to drain all the water out of the mechanics, change the oil in the axles, check everything over and make repairs.

Dinner wasn’t served until almost midnight, and it would be a short night’s rest before departing again today for Stage 4.


The next few days are going to be rough.

The Breslau Rally: Day 3

Waking up to warm sunshine at the camp near Recz, Poland for Day 3 of the Breslau Rally.


Yesterday was a long day for the team. The service vehicles had to break camp at 7:30, and with over 400 km to drive to the next camp, it wasn’t practical to try to watch the specials.

We left Breslau at 7:00 am and arrived at the second camp near Recz at 4:15 pm (we stopped for lunch) to set up and wait for the others.

The motorcycles started to arrive around 7:00 pm, and the cars a little later. Our Jeeps made it to the camp around 10:30 pm, but the Unimog didn’t arrive until 1:00 am. They had placed it in the Semi for transport after the Specials to save wear on the suspension, and the route was slow going with such a large vehicle given the state of the roads.

We went to sleep around 1:30am, but we heard that the last participants arrived at the camp around 3:00 am.

On Saturday The Flying Dutchman lost control of their AK19XX series truck in a tight turn, and it tipped over. Luckily the crew only had a few cuts and bruises. The truck came out fairly well too as you can see below. Yesterday when we left Breslau, they were waiting for a new windshield so they could continue the race. We haven’t seen them here at the camp so far. I hope they made it.


This morning the organization changed the order of the Specials since yesterday was such a grueling step. No one has had a lot of time to sleep or make repairs on the vehicles. Today will be a shorter leg, and tomorrow and Wednesday will be somewhat longer. We’ll stay here at the camp until Thursday, which will be the Marathon Leg. They call it “Hannibal” because the participants will race over 360 km in a single day.

Because of the change in the program, we’re not sure if we’ll be able to watch any of the Specials today. We’re going to give it a try though.

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We’re at the Breslau Rally!

No ergs in Breslau, but we’re taking part in the Breslau Rally as part of the assistance for the French team Up To The End. The team has four Jeeps and one Unimog competing in the race.

We arrived yesterday and didn’t have time to update the blog before leaving. The race started this morning in Breslau’s Aqua Park. We’ll do our best to post updates with news from the race as it unfolds.