Chris Birch (top left) celebrates after his 2010 Romaniacs win with KTM riders Paul Bolton and Jade Gutzeit, as well as BMW’s Andreas Lettenbichler.
Chris Birch feels the pain at this year’s Red Bull Romaniacs.
KTM’s Chris Birch claimed the victory in the 2010 Red Bull Romaniacs. Based in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains, the Romaniacs event features five days of grueling off-road competition. Joining Birch on the overall podium were Sherco’s Graham Jarvis and last year’s overall winner, BMW rider Andreas Lettenbichler. A pair of KTM riders rounded out the top five in British rider Paul Bolton and South African Jade Gutzeit.
Birch improved on his second-place finish at the 2009 event, with the New Zealand rider earning the 2010 win via consistency and victory in the final stage on Day 4. The second-place overall Jarvis won both the Day 1 and Day 3 stages, but a poor Day 2 result, nearly three hours adrift of the winner (Lettenbichler), foiled the British riders overall hopes by 29 minutes.
This year’s event was characterized early by rain, which made the terrain, intimidating in the dry, even more imposing. Among the many riders to take spills, the defending champ Lettenbichler broke a rib on Day 1 but still managed to push on. The Bavarian rider said of this year’s course and conditions:
“Given the circumstances, the first day was too long. You simply had to drive yourself into the ground to keep going. Pretty much everyone went battered and bruised into the second day. I´m no crybaby for sure, but this was no fun. Most sections might have been rideable in the dry, but there was no way to make them in the wet. The organizers should have skipped some of the most gnarly up- and downhills. Altogether I´m quite satisfied, though. The bike worked well in these conditions and finishing on the podium isn´t too bad.”
The brutal conditions of the first day saw a clear separation of the front-runners, with the stage-winning Jarvis finishing in 7:25’51, followed by Birch at 8:06’31 and Lettenbichler third with a time of 9:48’48. Jarvis ran into problems on Day 2 when his Sherco mount overheated, losing a massive three hours on the stage winner, Lettenbichler. The Sherco rider did rebound, however, with a dominating performance on Day 3.
Both Lettenbichler and Jarvis made up hours on their deficits with their respective stage wins, yet Birch retained the overall lead and kept his name in the top five for both stages despite electrical hiccups costing him valuable time. Heading into the final day Jarvis still had a fighting chance, with Birch’s lead just 23 minutes. But the Kiwi didn’t make any big mistakes and actually widened the time gap on his rival, claiming the overall in style with a stage win as well.
BMW rider Andreas Lettenbichler on a hill climb, excuse us, step climb at the 2010 Red Bull Romaniacs.
2010 Red Bull Romaniacs Results:
1. Chris Birch (KTM) 28:17’31
2. Graham Jarvis (Sherco) 28:46’12
3. Andreas Lettenbichler (BMW) 29:18’29
4. Paul Bolton (KTM) 29:52’12
5. Jade Gutzeit (KTM) 30:21’32
6. Lionel Seydoux (KTM) 33:21’58
7. Gerhard Forster (BMW) 35:47’18
8. Darryl Curtis (KTM) 40:06’41
9. Emanuel Gyenes (KTM) 42:10’59
10. Erich Brandauer (Husaberg) 42:36’54