The Hellas Rally is a wrap for 2022, and while the two-wheeled category saw a French rider take the overall win, the winner in the SSV category was right behind him.
Hellas Rally, for those unfamiliar, is a seven-day competition pitching riders into remote areas of the mountains in Central Greece. The everyday route generally runs between 100 and 150 miles over a mixture of mud, hard packed, and summit terrain up to nearly 8000 feet. Driven with GPS waypoints, organizers say the rally is suitable for the types of machines we favor – quads, side-by-sides, and off-road bikes.
It’s promoted as Europe’s largest Rally Raid, a claim supported by a quick glance at the end results. There were no fewer than 246 competitors in various Moto classes who finished the event, plus a couple dozen others who either didn’t make it to the start line or ran into trouble during the event. A competitor by the name of Julien Jagu took the overall final classification win in Class M3 with an overall time of 19h20m14s, just one of three people to finish the Raid in under 20 hours.
Two of the top-three finishers were riding a KTM 450 EXC-F, a lightweight bike with a 450cc single-overhead cam engine which tag teams a six-speed transmission. The engine itself only weighs about 64 pounds, by the way, and incorporates all manner of tricks in its crankshaft and lubrication to withstand its throttle being pinned all day long. Total weight of the bike without fuel? Just 232 pounds. That’s less than most people on the ATV.com staff.
Fun fact about this year’s Hellas Rally: the last place finisher was also a 450 EXC-F whose rider, Andy Esmond of the UK, took a gruelling 65h40m33s to finish. Hey, taking the checkers at this type of event is remarkable – no matter how long it takes.
The SSV category was far less crowded than the bikes, though 41 finishers is a number not to be dismissed lightly. You could probably explain this by noting that Europe still doesn’t have the same history or culture of SSV racing as it does motorcycle racing; Euros typically race Rally Raid in motorcycles, cars, or massive trucks. Still, a European-based squad won at Hellas, not an American team. A two-person team of French drivers took top spot in this arm of the event, wheeling a Can-Am Maverick X3 Turbo to victory in 19h26m0s – just a few minutes behind the winning bike. Machines with the Can-Am logo dominated this year’s entry sheet, though there were a few entrants behind the wheel of a Yamaha or other brands (surprising, given Yamaha’s seeming growing interest in SSV racing at Dakar). Only two of the SSV category entrants didn’t finish.
Check out coverage and videos of the event on the Hellas Rally YouTube channel.