Miklós Csomós, Viktor Bán put in a simply stunning performance on Saturday in Rally Hungary, leading by 22.6 seconds ahead of Mads Ostberg. Ferenc Vincze, who has already won the Hungarian championship title, is having the third podium position.
Miklós Csomós has had an almost perfect day, winning five of Saturday’s seven stages and leaving no doubt about his intentions. He came here to win the race. He didn’t say it, it might have been a bold statement to make, but he was definitely “pushing it”.
This has given him a relatively comfortable lead in the overall standing – something he has never done before. He finished second in the latest European Championship race in the Czech Republic, which was his best result so far. We hope that on Sunday it will be all in the past.
“It’s been a fantastic day, I managed to dominate it all the way through,” said Csomós in the evening service park. “The stages are of European Championship standard, rally stages to the core, with plenty of spectators along the way, which adds to the atmosphere. Anyway, we’re in a good mood, because we’ve never led the overall before the final day. We are 22 seconds ahead, so I think if nothing special happens we can save it. So, we want to drive at our own pace on Sunday and finish the race.”
For the second place there was a huge battle between last year’s and this year’s Hungarian champions, Mads Ostberg and Ferenc Vincze. At the end of the day, the Norwegian was second, and although he hit the bottom of his car hard in the morning, causing him to lose engine power on the first round, he was back on his own pace by the afternoon. “We hit the front of the car pretty hard in the first stage and I think something must have been damaged by that big hit, because I felt the car was losing power all the time. The stages are difficult, but we have a good rhythm and we are having a huge battle with Vincze. Of course, it would be better to fight with Csomós, but he is really fast now, his performance is absolutely impressive. Tomorrow we’re going to the vineyards, which is similar to the German World Championship stages,” said Ostberg, who almost had to stop, when a dog ran through in front of him in a stage. He lost a few seconds, but he would deserve a special award from the animal rights activists, if such an award existed.
Ferenc Vincze kept pace with the former WRC2 world champion in the first round, they were holding second place by turns, but by the afternoon round the weather warmed up and it did not favour the Hungarian driver.
“We lost second place, but we can’t be disappointed, because originally, we expected to finish in the top five,” said Vincze. “Now we want to keep our podium position and of course, if we get the chance, step up. In the championship we had to focus on the result by being tactical, now I don’t want to do it, I want to go as fast as our health condition allows, because unfortunately, we both got sick a few days ago, and that’s why we made some small mistakes during the day.”
Erik Cais was forced to rely on the help of his co-driver, Igor Bacigal in the morning stage after the intercom broke down in his Skoda, but despite the time loss, the Czech driver is fourth in the overall standing after eight stages.
Miko Marczyk won the Super Special on Friday and was standing in the top five until he crashed on the final stage. He slid into a hillside, which span his car and ended his race in the ditch. Fortunately, the competitors escaped the crash without injury.
Martin Sesks took fifth place from him in what he described as a “learning race”.
One of the curiosities of the event is that the World Touring Car Champion Norbert Michelisz is competing in his first ever rally race in Zemplén, and for him this day has had a lot of new things in store. He has never raced in the woods or in the dark before, and he is not used to being talked to by someone. He made only one small mistake in the first round.
“I turned into one corner with the handbrake on, span and stalled, but luckily, we didn’t lose much time,” said Michelisz. “It’s still a bit strange for me to have someone talking to me all the time. I was absolutely panicked by the experience in the first test. In the slow corners I can process all the information I get, but in the fast parts I often just trust my eyes and my senses and try not to take any risks.”
Michelisz was standing 11th, when he suffered a puncture on the penultimate stage, which he changed on the stage with his co-driver, Robert Tagai, but the loss of time meant he slipped back to 17th.
Rally Hungary finishes on Sunday with four more stages.
RALLY HUNGARY, ROUND 8 OF ERC, NYÍREGYHÁZA
Overall standing after 8 stages: 1. Miklós Csomós, Viktor Bán (Hungarian, Skoda Fabia Evo) 1:05:55.6, 2. Ostberg, Barth (Norwegian, Swedish, Citroen C3) +22.6 seconds, 3. Vincze, Percze (Hungarian, Skoda Fabia Evo) +32.8 seconds.