Rally-proofing KIT 690

We have a confession to make: KIT 690 was originally meant for one. A winter and a summer ago John was grumping about how discombubolating and expensive it was to gear his KTM 690 Enduro with an adventure kit. He loves making neat things and wondered, how about making his own? Flush with the thrill of an experiment, he built up the very first iteration of the KIT 690 and right now he is giving it a proper rally shakedown.

Trans-Carpatic Rally ’15

22 – 26 sept. 2015, Brasov – Mangalia

1200

KM

5

DAYS

DAY 1: SHAKEDOWN, BRASOV

4 loops on the dirt track only serve for warm-up. Riders and drivers draw lots for start lineup, and fate allots pole-position to John.

Photos by Dan Strauti for Autostiri.ro

Photos by Arieseanu Genu, Iulian Sima, Eliezer Tatar, Petru Sarbu

DAY 2: SS1 + SS2 + SS3, BRASOV

The days starts in brisk mountain air. Riders have plenty of checking up and tweaking to do. Meanwhile a DJ is doing his best to spoil everyone’s focus with disturbingly old-fashioned music.

A few more minutes to the official start in the 2015 Trans-Carpatic Rally

And they’re off to burn some gas, much to the dismay of a cyclist (nah, he’s a petrol head as well)

Photographers wait patiently after the bridge that ends SS1 (Special Stage 1). I’m supposed to take advantage of the stream and get some cool splashing shots, but I’m distracted by this rotten dog’s head that is looking towards it’s former body. So I miss the lead rider, Vlad, who zooms past.

Confused by a road book error, Vlad loops back. He quickly gets his bearings while I get my shots. The situation repeats itself with the next arrival, Catalin, who, as we shall later find out, has just taken an ugly tumble.

Next, a couple of 4 wheelers.

Then Elvis arrives, and he rides straight into trouble. He plunges over the ridge where at last year’s rally a car turned upside down, but remains miraculously vertical.

After this entertaining moment and a car, John arrives on his pimped 690, with Mircea and his 1200GS on tow.

A few more competitors make a splash

For the next hour or so the photographers, assistance staff and local people try to fight boredom, with sun and cows for companions.

The last to arrive are either struggling with a broken wheel or with navigation, and the cows seem as surprised by the apparitions as we are.

This Israeli team looks happy to be plodding Romanian fields

After SS2 everybody regroups, refuels and recovers in the parking lot of a local joint. As they arrive, competitors hand their sheets to the staff.

A statue sitting in front of the building suggests that this fine establishment might serve food. But whatever might have been on the cook’s plate was long eaten by the hatted feline mascot inside.

The waitress tells me that’s Mr. Tiger. So we ask for the menu and one of the photogs dares to ask about soup. Oh, all our soups are stunning, the jolly waitress says, and they are very fresh – cooked the day before yesterday, she adds!

Mechanics use the intermission to tighten whatever has been shaken off.

Mr. Victor, the main man of the Rally, peppers the briefing with his signature gestures.

Meanwhile bikers, like scuba-divers, share their day’s events.

The paramedics care for our injured rider, who will have to forfeit the last stage, but who is hopeful to recover by tomorrow.

The last stage of the day requires final reconnaissance. First Mr. Victor, then the team director, then a rosy-cheecked man who has nothing to do with this rally.

The first one to braap is Vlad and as you can see, he’s too fast even for a 5D Mark II.

One of the photographers jumps from the bush straight into an impromptu shower.

More splashy moments and more awesomeness.

I’m stoked to spot John’s bike and the sexy KIT 690

The press and staff returns to bivouac just as the racers arrive as well

At the bivouac people look tired but happy

Some call their beloved, some relax, some smile

DAY 3: SS4 + SS5, BRASOV to ONESTI

Horizon barely blushed, and our bivouac is already buzzing. Hoods bear gifts of sugar and calories, to be spent in battle.

The line-up is missing one rider. The motorcyclist who had a spill has broken a couple of ribs and is out from the rally.

The second news is that the third stage has been cancelled for safety reasons. The remaining petrol heads rev on single-tracks that wind across typical Transylvania. Fast gravel= love! Days’ dry except for a few afternoon showers. The meteorologists warn that the worst is yet to come.

DAY 4: ONESTI to BRAILA, SS6

Tough day today. If this is what the riders look like at start…

…this is how they reach the finish line! After all the heavy rains from last night, most of the over 200kms of the Special Stage (+ 125km liaison) are pure carnage: mud, mud and then some more mud. Day reminds John of our gnarly D.R. Congo crossing, especially after a lot of cars pass in front.

Photos by Bogdan Negru

Many teams got lost or didn’t follow the stage roadbook because of a misleading junction, and I’m proud that the stage results put John at no. 3. But, truth to be told, and as one of the funniest guy I know put it, John’s titanium hinge, hacked into his wrist barely 3 months ago, is not an advantage. Bog, exhaustion and now pain.

DAY 5: SS7 (17km) + SS8 (Cochirleni – Vama Veche, 116km), BRAILA to MANGALIA

Rains stop allowing the land to dry. Riders roll on fun dirt tracks under the long awaited sun.

Photos by Bogdan Negru

Rally ends where land meets the sea, on Romania’s coast. To honour organisers’ efforts, riders, all caked in bog and soaked in sweat, stop in a gas filling station to hose down the day’s misery. Those who survived the rally get corny trophies and bottles of red: John takes 3rd place overall and 1st in over 450cc class.

Photos by Arieseanu Genu, Iulian Sima, Eliezer Tatar, Petru Sarbu

 

Download the rally route in GPX format.