Mirjam Pol Balkan Rally Report part 2
MIRJAM POL WINS THE BALKAN OFFROAD RALLY 2019
The results of the Balkan Offroad Rally 2019 are in, Mirjam Pol won first place, after having experienced many highs and lows over the past few days. The first leg of the day was a little awkward, but as she said herself ‘I’m like a diesel car, it takes a while to get running’. This became apparent in the second stage, with Mirjam getting comfortable in her rhythm. From then on it only got, winning the third stage! The fourth day was extremely tough, but Mirjam persevered, fighting for first place with Rob van Vegchel. Suddenly, a lucky break for Mirjan, her competitor Rob had fallen, suffering a shoulder injury. Nevertheless, Mirjam had to keep focus and that’s exactly what she did, securing the first place and becoming the 2019 winner of the Balkan Offroad Rally!We are looking forward to a statement from Mirjam about the final stage, but below you can read all about how things went up until today.
STILL NUMBER ONE? BATTLE OF THE DUTCH...
Mirjam was the first to start the fourth day, and due to the fact that her predecessor was given penalty time, she jumped to the lead in the general classification, with a difference of 00:001:33 between first and second place!
Can she keep up this pace today?
Of course she can! With a small difference of 49 seconds, Mirjam is still in first place in the general classification! We hope to hear more from Mirjam today about the struggles she encountered to secure first place!
IT WAS ONE OF THOSE DAYS...
With a time difference of just 49 seconds, Mirjam still holds first place! However what the results don’t show is the tough fight that she endured, and this may not be the kind of fight you would expect. Rather than going head to head with other competitors, Mirjam was battling with herself.
She is currently struggling with the last remnants of a flu, therefore every action required more strength and energy that Mirjam is used to. Add to that the fact that she had a bad night’s sleep and it’s no surprise things took a toll for Mirjam in today’s stage.
“I have the feeling that I still need to wake up. Today was a day that required a huge amount of focus and I knew going into the day that it would not be easy. Anyway, all you can do it look ahead! I am currently working on my roadbook for tomorrow (two huge rolls!!), then I'll have a bite to eat and get to bed as soon as possible. Then I’ll be ready for a new day tomorrow!” said Mirjam whilst at the camp site.
Her bike has been well taken care of by Henkjan Somsen so that’s one less thing to worry about! Henkjan and the guys from the truck team Holten safely removed her rim. The support and pleasant atmosphere around her have been very much appreciated by Mirjam!
Onto the fifth day!
MORE CHANGES IN THE CLASSIFICATION
The fifth stage of the Balkan Rally was a long day and by the time we spoke to Mirjam few participants had returned to camp. “It was a long day and upon return I was under the impression that my day went well, but I found the results disappointing. I lost time on my competitors, they were able to turn it up a notch. But I’m glad that I didn’t have to drive in the dark unlike many other drivers, that’s a crime!” says Mirjam. The lead in general classification has again been taken by Rob van Vegchel and Mirjam follows with a delay of 11 minutes.
Due to the fact that so few participants had returned to camp that evening, there was no briefing, so more info will follow later on!
GENERAL CLASSEMENT CHANGES YET AGAIN...
Over the past few days, Mirjam has been going head-to-head against Rob van Vegchel for first place, however this morning it was announced that Rob suffered quite a fall, injuring his shoulder / arm.
Other riders turned out to have more time penalties, therefore the general classification completely changed.
Mirjam ended yesterday quite uncertain and started off today in first place! Today is also going to be very challenging with three stages and a late arrival at camp
MIRJAM IS STILL IN FIRST PLACE
Today consisted of three stages, the first of which was particularly slippery as it started to rain. “I started to slide quite a few times, which prevented me from getting into my rhythm. I then made a navigational error which really cost me time. Fortunately, things started to dry up during the second stage of the day, which was much better suited for Miriam, or better said, her engine. It was a quick test, which bodes well with my bike”.
It was clearly evident that the second stage of the day went well, being very noticeable in the fixtures: After the first stage she ended up in third place and second stage jumped back up to second place.
Summary: Today Mirjam managed to maintain her lead, despite the fact that she lost some time. The most important for Mirjam was to be able to properly test her engine, which is being checked and maintained by Henkjam Somsen on the daily. This is Mirjam’s first time competing in the Balkan Offroad Rally and she sees it as great practice for the Dakar.
Tomorrow is the last day, with two stages and a total of 185 kilometres to cover. “I don’t dare say anything about the final placement. The rider who is currently in second place is incredibly fast and I would be very pleased if I could get a podium finish. Training was my first goal and if I manage to get into such exciting duels all week long and end up in the top three … I’ll be very satisfied!”
Mirjam speaking about her victory:
It wasn’t presented to me on a silver platter. I really had to drive extremely fast, it was a difficult victory! After a successful second day, whilst back at camp, I could see the other participants glance at me with a look that says “this can’t be happening, we need to stay ahead of Pol … whatever it takes”. From that moment on, I said to myself that I will not give in. In order to win, the most important thing is to avoid any serious accidents or injuries and stay on the bike, and I managed!
Two unique wins in a row
The seven-time Dakar rally participant did not let the slippery weather get to her during the final stage of the Balkan Rally, managing to maintain her lead and becoming the 2019 winner of the Balkan Rally! Early this year Mirjam was also the winner of the Breslau rally in Bulgaria.
With this victory, Mirjam Pol shows that she can stand her ground in an entire field of international motorcyclists. The new Dakar rally engines have arrived and are currently being run and tested in Spain and Morocco. “When they are back, I will take it out for a spin and adjust the suspension. Time flies and before you know it I am already at the Dutch pre-Dakar rally, and after that the bikes need to be returned and are transported to Saudi Arabia for the 2020 Dakar Rally!”.
Photography: Marcel Vermeij - Rallymaniacs