The third Xross Challenge race was held from 10th to 12th June and exceeded all expectations from the riders, the audience and organizers themselves who did their best to organize the event on a world scale. In my fairly overbooked schedule of events that I photograph, this race was among top priorities. There are many reasons for this but mainly this is the greatest hard enduro race in Serbia. The past two years on Kopaonik and Tara were really spectacular, and the third one was promising to push the limits even farther and eventually it did.
This year’s event has been extended for one day and lasted for three days. It was divided into two categories: Xross Challenge for hard enduro motorcycles and Xross Trophy for dual sport motorcycles. More than 200 participants from all over the world attended the event with many world famous names from the top of the hard enduro sports among them, such as Chris Birch, Ben Hemingway, Philipp Bertl, Miha Spindler… so we could have expected tough match in the wilderness of Tara.
The adventure for me began even before the race. I started the journey on the road long 200 kilometers from Belgrade to Tara on my bike. However, a nice summer time had turned into an autumn burst of clouds that caught me during my climbing up the Tara mountain.
The perverse and rainy weather lasted for all three days of competition, so the skies opened and the first day of competition, just before the Prologue. There was so much rain that the streets were running streams of water, and the polygon was so soaked that looked like a huge swimming pool. All this has made the barriers on the Prologue day slippery and more difficult for competitors, but more interesting for photoshooting.
Over the next two days of competition, the riders had to deal with chains, rockeries, extreme uphills and very steep slopes, mud and water, but the route of Xross Challenge race also lead them over unreal beautiful landscape of Tara. While this is not the first hard enduro race that I had photographed it is always interesting to capture the challenge that is in front of riders and their “fight” with nature and themselves.
The highest place on the winning podium of this year’s Xross Challenge race went to the young Austrian Philipp Bertl. The second place went to hard enduro star from New Zealand Chris Birch, and the third place went to Slovenia’s Miha Spindler, last year’s winner. Special pleasure was a private photoshooting with Chris Birch with whom I already worked at Red Bull Romaniacs race.