Nikola Tesla EV Rally Day 2: Opatija to Sibenik

By 4 June 2016

Day 2 of the Nikola Tesla EV Rally in Croatia on June 3, 2016 brought competitors face to face with the magic of the Adriatic coast and an entrance into Dalmatia. TCN was happy to be in the Tesla passenger seat.

After an exciting first day exploring the charms of Istria (as previously reported on TCN), the third Nikola Tesla EV Rally continued from its day two starting point in Opatija. The rally has brought together about 50 electric cars of all shapes and sizes, although mostly Teslas, with participants from all over the world, including the owner of the first Rimac Concept One car to be sold, which will shortly be shipped to American and become the first Croatian car exported to the United States. 

ev rally nikola tesla (1)

Any doubts that we might not be in for a spectacular day in gorgeous Croatia were dispelled by the morning view from Hotel Bellevue in Opatija. In addition to the high quality organisation, the standard of accommodation has more than matched the luxury event, with drivers also being accommodated in Hotel Lone in Rovinj, the new D-Marin resort in Sibenik and Hotel Esplanade in Zagreb.

ev rally nikola tesla (2)

The weather played its part, and the day began with a drive through the industrial coastal zone just south of Rijeka, itself, Croatia's major port. Above is the picturesque village of Bakar in an idyllic bay which once had a polluting coke factory which is now dormant.  

ev rally nikola tesla (3)

First stop was Senj, which is an important part of the electronic vehicle world, as it has that most coveted of things - a super charger station. While cars can charge off any electricity, a super charger can recharge 80% of a battery in just 15 minutes, good enough for another 400 kilometres. Super chargers are common in countries where Teslas are more prevalent, but they are still not too common in Croatia, although charging stations have increased from 6 to 140 in Croatia in recent years. The largest concentrations can be found in Zagreb, Istria and Koprivnica. TCN's Sasa Cvetojevic recently wrote an article on how to travel through Croatia on batteries

ev rally nikola tesla (4)

The Senj station was popular... 

ev rally nikola tesla (5)

There are electric cars of all shapes and sizes in the rally. 

ev rally nikola tesla (6)

One of the nice features of the rally is that there are generous time deadlines between stages, allowing drivers to go at their own pace, and explore at their leisure. A photo stop at the 'Croatian Alcatraz', the island of Goli Otok, which was a prison until it closed in 1986. If you have to serve a prison sentence, there are surely worse locations... 

ev rally nikola tesla (7)

The magistrale, as Croatia's coastal road is known, was mercifully free of traffic, allowing the Teslas to dominate the way.

And some drivers enjoyed themselves very much. The view from my passenger seat, as today's driver Ksenija Mezga, was clearly enjoying this, her second Tesla drive. There is a great sense of cameraderie on the rally, and the social aspect is as important as the rally itself.  

ev rally nikola tesla (8)

The magistrale hugged the coast at times, offering photo opportunities for better cameramen than me, but here is one which looks almost straight.  

ev rally nikola tesla (9)

And a reminder of the multi-purpose attractions of the Adriatic - sea-kayaking is a major growth sport. 

ev rally nikola tesla (10)

The technology system of the Tesla experience is second to none, and with all charging stations plugged in to the system, your car warns you when you need to pay attention to the recharge. Fortunately this did not affect us, as the excellent organisers had provided a mobile charger to follow the rally.  

ev rally nikola tesla (11)

The rally goes through various national parks. A divine lunch in Starigrad Paklenica National Park.  

ev rally nikola tesla (12)

Where Tesla drivers came face to face with the original horsepower. 

ev rally nikola tesla (13)

There was time after lunch to catch up with Paul Runge, the owner of the first Concept One to be exported. We will be publishing his very interesting interview shortly. Paul is taking part in the rally with a Rimac engineer in the passenger seat, tweaking, monitoring, testing.  

ev rally nikola tesla (14)

Next stop was Zadar and the Greetings to the Sun, which I had last seen playing Alfred Hitchcock a couple of months ago.  

A ring of Tesla surrounded the Greetings to the Sun, a nice symbol of rechargeable energy. 

ev rally nikola tesla (15)

And time to visit the sea organ next door. 

ev rally nikola tesla (16)

And time to do what I love to do best in Dalmatia... absolutely nothing.  

ev rally nikola tesla (17)

Followed by a little bit of nothing. 

But the Magistrale awaiting, and my chauffeur was keen to clock up a few more e-miles.

ev rally nikola tesla (18)

The final stop was Sibenik, but not before a police escort into the waterfront. We all gathered at the famous Sibenik bridge, full of historical resonance with the recent conflict.  

ev rally nikola tesla (19)

A perfect vantage point to observe Sibenik in the distance.  

ev rally nikola tesla (20)

And a parade on the Sibenik waterfront. Drivers have been very willing throughout the rally to encourage the public to sit in the cars and have a look around. A very nice PR exercise overall.  

ev rally nikola tesla (21)

And it was not just the humans who were interested in what was happening.  

ev rally nikola tesla (22)

Finally the Dalmatian sunset came into view. 

ev rally nikola tesla (23)

For some, it was just a 30m stroll to one of Croatia's seven UNESCO World Heritage Site, St James Cathedral in Sibenik.  

ev rally nikola tesla (24)

The Mayor of Sibenik was on hand to welcome his guests, and took great interest at the controls.  

ev rally nikola tesla (25)

And then the final police escort to the final destination of another outstanding day. 

ev rally nikola tesla (26)

The luxury 5-star D-Marin resort from Dogus Group, which opened this year, and will help to transform tourism in Sibenik and the neighbouring region, and although I was tired, my eyes nearly popped out my head. This resort is GORGEOUS! 

ev rally nikola tesla (27)

The view of Sibenik by night from the entrance.  

ev rally nikola tesla (28)

More on D-Marin in a later report, but the day finished with an excellent meal on the top floor - perhaps a photo of dessert may suffice?

The rally continues today to Plitvice Lakes and then Zagreb, via a stop at the place where it all began - the birthplace of Nikola Tesla himself.