Friday, July 23, 2010

Prohun 500 race review

Hungarian race Prohun 500 was the longest race of this year’s Central European Zone for cross country rallies and most probably also the hottest one. The temperature very rarely dropped below 35°C and in some occasions exceeded 40°C (around 100°F).

In this tropical weather the competitors had to cover 1000 kilometers of which more than 500 were against time. Stages were mostly straight and fast with very few technical parts which favored high-capacity engines like those in Opel Antara RR. But it was László Palik with SA-built Navara who led the pack after two specials. Close to the end of the third special he missed the turn and broke two ribs in an accident. He was out. Much sooner than skilled Palik ended the race for Andrea Várkonyi. In Hungary very popular TV announcer rolled her car twice just 200 meters after the start.

Her team boss Balázs Szalay fought hard for the first place with another Navara namely that of Erik Korda. At the end of stage 1 rally driver Korda was 1 min 10 sec. slower. The third was Károly Fazekas with another overpowered car BMW X5 followed by two Opels driven by Péter Rónai and Ferenc Vörös. In T2 class Slovakian crew Juraj Ulrich / Danka Ulrichová won all five specials. Oh, they drove home-built Nissan Navara 4.0, didn’t I mention it before?

On Saturday it was even hotter with two short but very intensive rains during fifth and sixth special. Thankfully it didn’t do much harm to cars. Lásló Liszi was penalized and fell down the order, Ferenc Vöros finished ninth special with damaged exhaust muffler and therefore poisoned by carbon oxide. That’s another one out of the race. Korda won three specials of the day same as Szalay but Opel pilot was faster. Nissan occupied places 5 to 7 thanks to Zoltán Bálint (with ex-Palik Navara) Pál Lónyai and Imre Varga. T2 Navara of Ulrich stayed on top of class ranking ahead of Toyota LC 120 and Mitsubishi Pajero, both Polish.

Last four specials on Sunday Korda attacked as hard as he could. Still he finished second behind Szalay. Considering his Navara had the engine of half the capacity of Szalay’s Antara it was sort of expected result. And even with 41,5 points loss in general classification his Korda still has a chance to be national champion. From the very beginning third Fazekas finished… third. The bad luck of Opel Dakar Team, except Szalay’s win of course, ended with withdrawal of Péter Rónai. The fourth place was free for army guy Bálint. Fifth came home Lónyai and sixth Varga - that is four Nissans in top six.

By flawless ride, tenth overall and first in T2 class, finished Slovak Navara of Juraj Ulrich 15 minutes ahead of Polish Alexander Sachanbinski. Desperately last was Márton Kristóf with Nissan Navara. He skipped 4 specials and with huge time penalty there was no chance for better place. His car is brand new and under development so let’s give him some time. And one last Nissan to mention is Navara of Zoltán Csányi. Practically regular road car dominated Sandlander Challenge trophy.

Overall ranking:
1. Balázs Szalay - László Bunkoczi Opel Antara RR 4:50:51
2. Erik Korda - György Tóth Nissan Navara + 01:40
3. Károly Fazekas - Péter Maurer BMW X5 + 07:40
4. Zoltán Bálint - Dániel Marton Nissan Navara + 45:49
5. Pál Lónyai - Zoltán Garamvölgi Nissan Navara + 53:08
10. Juraj Ulrich - Daniela Ulrichová Nissan Navara + 1:58:05

Here are some photos of Nissans, more of them and others on my photo gallery on this link:

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