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Transylvania: in dark forests and deep canyons

HUNT-THE-WOLF-2010 enthuses racers and visitors

The wolfs are killed, the hunters happy. After 2 days and one night hunt the ATV-chase in and around Cluj-Napoca in the Romanian Transylvania found a glorious end – without injuries or major damages. The most wanted trophy was deservedly conquered by the enduro-experienced Jaroslav Katrinak from Slovakia, who  enthusiastically speaks about the most difficult ATV-race of his career.

The first of the 50 racers arrived at the meeting area of the organizing company Authentic-Spirit in Cluj-Napoca Wednesday before the race-weekend. A free How-to-use-GPS training was scheduled in the nearby forest. Despite heavy rain some participants did wisely not renounce at this training, since ATV-races in the open hills of Romania are always an orientation challenge as well. Especially at HUNT-THE-WOLF-2010: because of environmental and organization issues no material markers where used along the tracks, and especially during the night race competitors without any GPS experience have a hard time to move around in the dark forest…

Thursday night, during the last preparations, the racers from Germany, Slovak Republic, Austria and the more remote cities of Romania arrived. At the meeting point in front of the biggest shopping mall of Transylvania every year guarded parking, paddocks, ATV-cleaning opportunities are put to be at every bodies disposal, inside and near  the mall shopping, food, pharmacies, doctors, repair shops, etc. make life of racers and companions easy. And here, on the outskirts and directly in front of the huge mall the organizers created a much more technical trial track then the previous year, including tires to jump, logs, rocks, jumps, labyrinth. The free training began, first repairs became necessary. Three mechanics were at every bodies disposal around the clock from Thursday night until Sunday morning – nobody should been forced to drive home early because of minor necessary repairs.

Friday evening the rain finally stops. In 4 categories ATV Extreme, ATV Open, Quad, UTV go for the start on the first spectacular trial. 20 drivers in Extreme, 24 in Open, 3 Quads, 2 UTV. In each category all start at same time, the track becoming narrow and passing a thrill. It takes the fastest less than 2 minutes for the “most difficult trial track” later winner Katrinak was on. Five rounds for Extreme, 4 for Open, 3 for all others. Then hands are trembling, shaking. Great atmosphere, audience and sponsors are enthusiastic, the media happy because of all the action. The best show gives the Italian Nicchi Velso with its Polaris Side-by-Side. Where Velso races, vibes are on!

All are already tired, but there comes the call for the night-hunt! Just half an hour after the trial all participants must follow a “hound” (on 4 wheels) across dark hills and forests to a meadow 6 km away. The headlights of 65 ATVs create an endless line of lights in the black night, in a distance only the lights of the 500.000 inhabitant city twinkle far away. Then start every 10 seconds. Nine virtual GPS-“wolf”-points must be approached up to a minimum of 40 meters. None is to be missed. On some square kilometers headlights whir across the forest. Mud, ditches, valleys, trees, rocks obstacle the way. After 1 h and 10 min the first “hunters” arrive at finish. Are they the winners? Only hours later, after the GPS-data have been checked to see who missed what “wolf”,  the winners are established: it was not the first at the finish. He had missed 1 wolf…

After a good night’s sleep training begins at 9 am, 2 hours before the last trial session takes place until 1 pm. With a few seconds advantage Mihai Lazaroiaie from Sibiu wins it in front of Jaroslav Katrinak. At 2 pm all start for the forests. For all 4 categories separate tracks are established, all between 50 and 100 km long. Track maker Oliver Renzler of the Authentic-Spirit-Racing-Team combined during weeks of work the most beautiful tracks , taking care to find the best for each category, taking into consideration private property, the beauty of the landscape, the possible jamming in special stages, and changing weather conditions. The tracks were finally joined on the PC and prepared for the download to the GPS devices. Main goal was to keep HUNT-THE-WOLF the most difficult ATV race in Europe in the category Extreme and to find the right mixture of difficulty, speed and beauty for the other ones.

The first are since long in the finish area when this race day ends at 6.30 pm Saturday. All not reached way points after that hour count as missed, entrance in special stages are not allowed anymore. Nobody wants to come too late to the great dinner in a classy hotel nearby, offered by the organizers. Also the organizers don’t want to get there late…

After that the GPS data’s are checked until 2 am, while the pilots are sleeping. Briefing again at 8.30 am, and the results are ready: the time differences are little, in Open very little. In that category 10 pilots are only minutes away from each other. In Extreme 4 riders can still win.

Sunday, mmediately after the briefing it is time for the forests, starting order is given according to the general classification, start is every 30 seconds. The few quads and UTVs are missing somehow the competition, but are anyway enjoying the fantastic hilly vernal country of Transylvania. Today the special stages are even harder then Saturday. While the day before wild, photogenic, narrow canyons had to be driven through, the challenge today is given by rocky creeks, huge logs, sideway positions, up- and downhills which request all the skills of the drivers in Extreme. In Open the stages are less demanding, but clearly the wheat gets separated  from the chaff.

The checking of the GPS data postpones the distribution of prizes to 6 pm. But the winners are then real winners. Dan Siminie from Sibiu wins Open, motor-bike pro rider Jaroslav Katrinak from Slovakia wins Extreme. Also the organizers are happy: nobody got hurt, no big damages were caused, all are happy. 2011 the wolf will howl again!

All infos, the classifying, pictures, movies and other infos to the event can be checked also in English on: www.hunt-the-wolf.com. The race is part of the Romanian-Hard-Enduro-Championship, organized by the only professional ATV magazine in Romania Primul-ATV-Magazin, which considers the 5 races in Romania with most participants. For details in English as well see www.primul-atv-magazin.ro/cupa.


best night racer:

Bogdan Blajan


  1.  Sandor Csibi
  2.  Velso Nicchi


  1.  Sebastian Bodea
  2.  Adrian Dib
  3.  Cosmin Sorban


  1.  Dan Siminie
  2.  Moga Ioan
  3.  Viorel Mocan


  1.  Iaroslav Katrinak
  2.  Mihai Lăzăroaie
  3.  Laszlo Nyaradi
  4.  Mihaly Szabo
  5.  Angelescu Bogdan
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