Czech Erik Cais won the warm-up stage of the Hungarian round of FIA European Rally Championship, V-Híd Rally Hungary, on Friday evening, just one tenth of a second (!) ahead of Hungarian László Martin. The Super Special stage was held in front of four thousand spectators, with spectacular show elements in Királyszentistván.

“It was very good, and we’re all smiles.”

“The grip was surprisingly good…”

“Dusty, slippery, muddy in places. There were plenty of challenges.”

“It won’t be an easy race, but we’re enjoying it so far.”

“We had a couple of risky moments because I braked too late, but we’ll be quicker tomorrow.”

These are just some statements made at the end of the first stage of Rally Hungary on Friday evening, which was held on parallel routes, which also meant that this time the competitors were not just racing against time, but also each other – and clearly enjoying themselves immensely.

Surely, they all knew that this stage would not decide anything, but one small mistake could be very costly, and in front of four thousand enthusiastic fans, everyone wanted to show their best. So, the crowd was treated to some spectacular duels, and at the end the Hungarian fans had something to get excited about, as the fastest Erik Cais beat Hungarian László Martin by just one tenth of a second (!).

“I really enjoyed the stage, although I was a bit worried that it would be easy to make mistakes on the narrow road,” said Cais.

Martin László was not disappointed with second place either, “Finally! The car is working well thanks to the team, who did a great job after qualifying. I am very happy. Let the race begin!”

Defending European Champion Hayden Paddon said earlier that he felt almost at home in Veszprém, not only because it was warm but also because the stages were similar to those in New Zealand. He finished third in the SSS, but he knows that the real race starts on Saturday.

“I’m happy with my starting position tomorrow (6th place based on qualifying) because they clear the stage a bit for me. My goal is definitely to stay out of trouble,” said Paddon.

Speaking of the day’s chronicle, Mads Ostberg, winner of last year’s Rally Hungary, was forced to retire before the race had even started: the Norwegian driver will miss the season opener for health issues. As he wrote in his post, he had to visit the hospital in Veszprém for the second time this week because of a stubborn virus, but by the end of the day it turned out that he was unable to compete.

As of the Hungarian drivers, the brand-new engine was stopped during the shakedown for Sándor Ollé, so unfortunately, he had to withdraw from the race.

V-Híd Rally Hungary continues on Saturday and Sunday with 6-6 special stages alike.

SSS: 1. Erik Cais, Igor Bacigal (Czech, Slovakian, Skoda Fabia RS) 1:47.8, 2. Martin László, Viktor Bán (Hungarian, Skoda Fabia RS) 1:47.9, 3. Hayden Paddon, John Kennard (New-Zealand, Hyundai i20N) 1:48.6