UK Rally Driver and Buzz Special Vehicles owner, Alex Parpottas brought home the win of the year with Polaris Pro R at Rally Albania: the unpredictable seven-day cross country rally held across the rugged landscape of Albania.
Having been successfully rallying since he was 15 years old and earning many titles to his name, winning Rally Albania was next on Alex’s challenge list. It’s safe to say he’s confidently crossed it off, finishing not only first in the SSV category but also against all cars and quads.
We caught up with Alex to discuss his incredible experience in the Polaris RZR Pro R…
Rally Albania had long been on Alex’s list ever since seeing photos online back in 2019. He knew it was a challenge he wanted to take on but unfortunately the global pandemic got in the way. As things slowly returned to the new normal, Alex took on Rally Albania for the first time in 2022. After finishing second, Alex thought he was done…
“We achieved second place, the first time we went and we just weren’t sure about going back as the terrain is so untouched there is no guarantee where you’re going to end up. But with five weeks to go until Rally Albania 2023, we thought why not?”
With just five weeks to go, the Buzz Special Vehicles team got to work in making the Polaris RZR Pro R race ready.
“The RZR Pro R is the strongest machine out of the box, that is as close as you can get to a race ready vehicle but there were a few things we needed to change.”
Although the Pro R was cleared to race as a factory machine, Alex and the team felt they needed to change the roll cage due to the high speeds they would be travelling at. Using a 3D scan, they could get the exact measurements needed to develop the new roll cage made from T45.
“We constructed a T45 material roll cage to be more suitable to the speeds we would be travelling at. We also added new lightweight 15-inch wheels and tyres, full carbon fibre bucket seats, adjustable A-arms to adjust the camber and suspension spring rate. We needed to add new springs to support the added weight from the roll cage as well.
“A spare wheel carrier was added in case of punctures or damage due to the everchanging terrain and we also had an onboard air compressor to repair our own tyres if needed.”
Rally Albania is a cross country event that travels the length and span of Albania.
“We started at the coastline, the first part was a 10km prologue, then straight into seven consecutive days of point to point where you are fully self-sufficient until you come back to your service team at the end of the day.”
During the rally, there are specific points where a rider can meet their service team.
“A remote service team can come and meet at a chosen location but only for 15-20 minutes. In fact, we had to change a brake calliper in that time frame then headed straight back out for 200km. It was intense.”
Riding around Albania was something Alex won’t be forgetting any time soon.
“It felt like a holiday but with competition involved. It was something I won’t be forgetting, having started on the sandy beaches and then travelling up to the snow-covered mountains where we would pass villages so high up you wondered how they even got food. It was a great experience to see the true side of the country that most tourists and visitors don’t see.”
As with any Rally competition there is always risk involved.
“The roads are never closed so it’s a fine balance between speed, endurance and knowing your limits. Albania is probably one of the only places which would allow you to do as such.
We also asked Alex if he would ever head back to Rally Albania.
“Although we found the RZR really shines in the fast rough terrain and the parts last super well with great durability, I don’t think we’ll be going back as it is such a difficult event where you could go back next year and come last. We may look to go to Morocco next year but that’s still to be confirmed.”
Watch this space!
Check out Alex on social media to follow his rally progress here.