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Most popular rally competitions in Bulgaria

Photo: archive
Motor sports have always been popular in Bulgaria and historical data show that the first competitions in this country took place before the 1920s. With the spread of cars during the 50s, motor sports started to develop fast in Bulgaria. In 1959 the first true rally competition took place with start and finish in Sofia and length of 275 kilometers.

During the 60s the sport continued developing together with the growing interest towards it. The contracts of socialist Bulgaria with companies like Renault and Fiat for the production of their cars boosted this interest. Bulgaria became a producer of different brands of cars, including Soviet brands like “Moskvich,” while the number of competitions and rally events started to grow.

In 1970 the first edition of the “Zlatni Piasatzi” (Golden Sands) Rally took place in the resort bearing the same name. Just a year and a half later the rally was included in the programme of the European Championship. The Zlatni Piassatsi Rally is said to be oldest and most prestigious competition in Bulgaria in the history of the sport. Some of the best pilots in Europe have competed in the rally over the years and its difficulty has always been among the highest. In 1984 the rally was renamed Albena, after another Black Sea resort. In 2002 the competition started bearing the name Rally Bulgaria. During most of the history of the rally its route used to pass through Stara Planina mountain range and the region of Dobruja, Stages like Stara Reka, Tvarditsa-Elena and others will be remembered with their difficulty.
Since 2002 at the recommendations of FIA the route of the rally was changed and these days it takes place in the region of the mountain resort of Borovets in the Rila Mountain. In 2012 it kept its image of one of the best competitions of the European championship and pilots from 8 countries took part in it. Dimitar Iliev became the first Bulgarian pilot to win Rally Bulgaria twice.

It is just one of the famous and loved rallies in Bulgaria. Since 1970 the Stari Stolici (Old Capitals) Rally has also taken place in Bulgaria with start in the city of Shumen. The competition is part of the National Rally Championship and always attracts a big number of fans of the high speeds. The Hebros Rally exists since 1972 and its headquarters is in the city of Plovdiv. In the past it was one of the most prestigious competitions in Europe. Hungarian pilot Attila Ferjancz has the biggest number of victories in this competition. Bulgarian legends like Ilia Chubrikov, Radolsav Petkov, Georgi Petrov and others have also won Rally Hebros. In 2012 the challenge will take place in the end of October.

The first start of the Sliven Rally in Bulgaria was in 1976 and it continues to take place every year since then. For the first time in 2012 the rally was included in the programme of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC). It ended on September 30th and the team of Dimitar Iliev and Yanaki Yanakiev won the gold medals.

Despite problems that plague the Bulgarian motor sport in recent years it continues to develop and enthusiasm of the fans is not decreasing. Traditions that Bulgaria has could just help for the success of young Bulgarian pilots. 

English: Alexander Markov

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