Last summer, I had the privilege to race the Dinaric Rally, a brand-new event in Knin, Croatia. The three days of racing in the Dinaric Alps beat the living daylights out of me and my bike, but it’s an experience I’ll never forget: the stunning mountains, the gnarliest terrain I’ve ever ridden, and the jaw-dropping scenery coupled with amazing people and insane bivouac vibes was the highlight of 2020 for me. This year, the Dinaric Rally is coming back longer, stronger, and meaner: taking place on the 17th-22nd of August, the rally will now be a five-day race with roadbook navigation. I caught up with Perica Matijevic, organizer of the rally, to find out more about the direction the Dinaric Rally is taking this year.
What will be some of the major changes for Dinaric Rally 2021?
Last year, we only had GPS navigation, whereas in 2021, we’re offering roadbook navigation with both paper and digital options available. We’re also adding two more days – a prologue and an additional race day – to make the rally more challenging and more attractive to pro and semi-pro riders, yet still accessible for rookies and newbies; just like last year, we hope to accommodate both rally first-timers and professional teams. Motorcycle and quad categories will see longer distances averaging 450km, and we are also adding an Adventure category with shorter distances and no timing for those who want to try a rally race without the pressure of competing. COVID-19 situation permitting, we may also have one day in Bosnia; however, this will depend on the border circumstances.
This year, the terrain will be the same as last year, but we’re adding more fast sections and increasing overall distances and the rally will still throw a decent challenge at riders regardless of their skill level. An average length of a special stage will be around 150-200 km with several time controls powered by tracking systems. We also plan to be much stricter in terms of rules and regulations, especially when it comes to speeding penalties, and we’ll have time cards for more organized starts of the specials. If we can add a day in Bosnia, this will potentially be the marathon stage.
We’re expecting around 200 participants this year, and the rally is undoubtedly growing. With time, we hope to cover all of the Southern Balkans, not just Croatia and Bosnia. The Dinaric Alps is a huge mountain range, and we’d like to explore it all.
– What are the safety measures for 2021?
Most of the members on the ORGA team are Mountain Rescue Service guys, and we take the safety of the riders very seriously. We know these mountains inside and out, and we know how treacherous this terrain can be and just how much can go wrong in a rally race, which is why we’ll have an ambulance tent with a doctor and first aid medical equipment, medical technicians present on the routes, Search and Rescue Service vehicles with SAR professionals and paramedics on the routes, an off-road vehicle with a medic on the routes, and permanent watch over every rider by every member of safety staff through our live tracking and monitoring system.
We also have a Search and Rescue team in every county available for backup if we need them, and a very good roadbook as an ultimate safety device at the riders‘ disposal. We are still working on the best solution for emergency communication with the riders; regarding COVID-19, we will follow all the rules and regulations of the Croatian government, and personally speaking, rakia (Croatian spirit) after the race may also help flatten the curve.
– Introducing roadbook navigation is huge. Are you designing the roadbook yourself?
Yes, I’m the designer of the routes (and will always be), so I’m the designer of the roadbook, too. It helps a lot that I’m a skilled multimedia expert but also a skilled SAR professional and have enough experience in riding in the mountains. Still, I’m giving it my 300% to make our first roadbook best ever! Besides a few new symbols we plan to introduce (specific to the Dinaric Mountains, and some kind of a Dinaric Rally signature), we will strictly follow all the principles of the best rally roadbooks we know.
– Which classes are growing the most?
We’re seeing a lot of M1 (motorcycles up to 550cc) competitors, and the quad category s growing fast, too. We‘re stoked to see the interest in the Dinaric Rally growing exponentially, but we want to remain environmentally conscious, so we may have to cap the participation at 200. The Dinaric Rally isn‘t about being the biggest race in Europe, it‘s about being the most unique: the Dinaric Alps are an extraordinary mountain range, the scenery and terrain here are unparalleled, and we‘d rather attract a certain kind of rider – slightly nuts, off-road obsessed, but respecting the environment and the natural playground we have here as well as focused on the bivouac camaraderie as much as the race itself – and we‘d rather have smaller numbers but greater loyalty rather than the other way round.
Ready to race? The Dinaric Rally starts August 17th in Knin, Croatia. Watch this space for the entries to open!
Need to boost your skills? Check out Untamed for rally and off-road training before you line up at that rally start line.
Images: Dinaric Rally