After a one-year hiatus, the FIA European Rally Championship (FIA ERC) will return to Hungary in 2023. The prestigious event will be held in and around the Zemplén Hills, in Nyíregyháza, between 6 and 8 October. HUMDA Hungarian Mobility Development Agency and WRC Promoter GmbH, the promoter of the ERC, have signed an agreement to organise the event.
Rallying is the most spectacular and one of the most fan-oriented of the different racing disciplines, which is why it is a great sport diplomatic success that Hungary can be part of the world’s second most popular rally championship. In the continental series, drivers with outstanding results in national competition systems will compete in cars built under precisely defined technical conditions. The ERC’s main objective is to identify and present talented drivers to the general public.
There is a long tradition of European Championship races in Hungary, which hosted them in the 1960s and 70s. Between 2019 and 2021, Hungary hosted three European Championship races. Both the 2020 and the 2021 Hungarian races have received yellow card warnings from the International Automobile Federation (FIA) for safety deficiencies and race organiser failings. This is why Hungary has been excluded from the 2022 calendar. This year’s successful Zemplén Rally was the candidate event for the re-run, which met the FIA safety standards from both a sporting and safety point of view and was also approved by the international rights holder WRC Promoter GmbH. The former management of the Hungarian National Automobile Sport Association (MNASZ) and the race organisers played a major role in this.
The 2023 event will be centred in Nyíregyháza, where a downtown stage will be held but the field will also visit Rabócsiring in Máriapócs for superspecial stage. The October race will close the 2023 season, which will mark the 70th anniversary of the series. It is expected that there will be no shortage of Hungarian drivers in 2023, as the cream of Hungarian rallying is also planning to compete in the Zemplén event, including Norbert Herczig – Ramón Ferencz, Miklós Csomós ‘Mixi’ – Attila Nagy, Bendegúz Hangodi – László Bunkóczi, Patrik Herczig – Kristóf Varga and the pairs of Martin László and Dávid Berendi.
“By hosting the ERC, HUMDA is fulfilling one of its most important strategic objectives: to attract as many international series as possible to Hungary, to attract the top categories of a particular discipline, with the aim of developing motorsports. There are many positive benefits to be gained from having as many major championships as possible with Hungarian venues and rounds on the calendar. This would not only strengthen our country’s place on the world motor sport map but would also increase the use of Hungary’s accommodation facilities by boosting tourism. And the live television broadcasts will reach millions of households in many countries and increase the visibility of our country,” stressed Balázs Weingartner, CEO of HUMDA Hungarian Mobility Development Agency Zrt.
“The return of the ERC is one of the starting points for the renewal of Hungarian motorsport. As the newly elected President of the Hungarian National Motorsport Federation, I am proud that we can already work effectively with HUMDA. This joint work is the pledge for the forward-looking change that Hungarian motorsport has long needed. It is worth making it clear that if the fortunes of the MNASZ had not taken a turn, the country might have been the poorer for one ERC race. Not only rallying but also other disciplines will benefit greatly from such projects in the years to come. We will do our utmost to ensure a successful event, as it will lay the foundations for the future of Hungarian racing for many years to come. The rally races attract the most spectators, and I am sure that tens of thousands of people will be there to cheer in October 2023. They can count on a more professional organisation and full compliance with safety regulations than in previous years, as the most important thing is that everyone, drivers, judges and of course spectators, are in the safest possible conditions during the race,” said Zoltán Szujó, President of the Hungarian National Automobile Sports Association (MNASZ).