Rally Hungary promoted by HUMDA is the season-opener of ERC in Veszprém

Fotó: MGR Images

Rally Hungary will be the opening event of 2024 ERC season, promoted by the HUMDA Hungarian Mobility Development Agency, a member of the Széchenyi University Group.

The Hungarian European Championship race, which is now on the calendar for the fifth time and the third time with the support of the Agency, will be held on 12-14 April in and around Veszprém, on gravel stages. The Rally European Champion will be crowned on the basis of the results of three events on gravel and five on asphalt.

ERC drivers aspiring for the championship title will compete at eight races in 2024, spread geographically across the continent, according to the revised calendar, which was announced today following FIA World Motor Sport Council approval.

Revving into action in Hungary in April, the ERC schedule includes stops in Spain (Canary Islands), Sweden, Estonia, Italy, Czech Republic and Great Britain prior to Poland hosting the season decider in October.

The 2024 calendar represents one of the biggest overhauls of events since 2013 while continuing to maintain several rallies integral to its ongoing success (Rally Islas Canarias, Rally di Roma, Barum Czech Zlín Rally). The series returns Hungary for the fifth time, but after the successful editions in Nyíregyháza, this time the competitors visit Veszprém and its neighbourhood.

Iain Campbell, ERC championship manager said: “It is quite something that we finished 2023 season in Hungary, and we will start 2024 there, too, but at a different venue and on different surface. I have seen the stages, and I can tell you, they are really tough, nothing like the ones in the championship. What is unchanged, the Hungarian fans’ commitment. It could be seen at the last race, how enthusiastic they were, how they loved Mixi, who came very close to winning the race in Nyíregyháza. I am sure that these fans will be along the stages in Veszprém, too.”

Balázs Weingartner, Chairman of the Board of Directors of HUMDA Hungarian Mobility Development Agency, a member of the Széchenyi University Group, said that he was proud to be organizing the ERC season opener in Veszprém. “In recent years, we were working hard for national rally sport to receive the worthy appreciation both at home or internationally. I think we are on the right trail. Rally Hungary on gravel will be a festival of the sport, and hopefully, with several Hungarian competitors. Not only will we strengthen our position in motorsport world, but we will increase the occupancy of accommodation establishments with boosting the tourism flow, and there are further benefits that could be mentioned. We will continue to work to ensure that as many major championships as possible include Hungarian venues in their calendars.”

Kornél Őry, President of Rally Hungary Organizing Committee, first of all thanked Nyíregyháza for its hospitality in recent years, and then said, that the international promoter of ERC expressly requested Hungary to provide the series with a gravel race. “We are very pleased that we have the opportunity to organize Rally Hungary for the fifth time now” Kornél Őry said. “Since Poland is to organise a WRC race next year after ERC, the European calendar would be out of balance with the rate of gravel and asphalt races, so the international promoter contacted us, whether we could organize a gravel rally. Fortunately, with the help of the city of Veszprém and Róbert Lakatos, experienced race organizer, we were able to respond to this request within a short time. So, we are pleased to announce that we will be organizing the season opener in 2024 in and around Veszprém with gravel stages in the region of Veszprém-Balaton. We have also agreed that the junior ERC field would also compete in our event, which I can consider as a huge sporting diplomatic success. At this stage it is too early to talk about the stages, but we can promise that there will be no shortage of excitement.”

Péter Ovádi MP added that Veszprém and its neighbourhood now will strengthen its position in Europe in the field of sport: “It is a great honour that our city receives European level attention in motorsport. Hosting an event reflects not only the commitment of the city and its neighbourhood, but the aptitude and activity in sport of the whole region. The wide variety of gravel stages with their dirt and loose soil will provide ideal challenge for the competitors and fit in perfectly with the city’s rally tradition of more than thirty years. I am convinced that the race will provide both the competitors and fans with a unique and special experience, while encouraging the tourism and economic development of the region. We cannot wait to get the engines revving again.”

Zoltán Szujó, President of the Hungarian Motorsport Association confirmed how important it was for the development of the national motorsport to host international events: “It is extremely important for the Hungarian motorsport, that we organize international events of other disciplines in Hungary in addition to Formula 1. Rally Hungary is very popular among the fans, so it is a great pleasure for us to continue to welcome the best of Europe. Furthermore, at the season opener, with traditionally huge number of participants, the top drivers of not only the continent, but the world will compete against each other. Certainly, the Association is working hard to provide top level of sporting background to the race.”

Csomós Miklós was a regular participant of ERC last year, he stepped on the podium at the legendary Barum Rally, and was leading the overall until the penultimate stage of Rally Hungary. Only a slip off prevented him from closing the year with a win, but what goes around comes around. “I am very happy that ERC will start in Hungary, it means there will be a lot of competitors in each category” Csomós said. “As for me, I really love gravel races, so I am looking forward to the start, and after Zemplén I hope to be fast in Veszprém, too. But realistically, it may be harder to win this race. On the one hand, the field will be much more populated, and on the other hand, I think they are much faster on gravel than on asphalt. But surely, we will not go to Veszprém with our hands up.”

Defending Hungarian champion Ferenc Vincze could celebrate on the podium of this year’s Rally Hungary, and although he cannot see his next year’s plan yet, he does not want to miss the Hungarian ERC race. “I loved the rallies in Nyíregyháza, and I feel more at home on asphalt, so I have mixed feelings, that our ERC race moves to gravel. But it is obviously undeniable that it is great to have the season opener here” Vincze said. “All the big names, who want to achieve good result in the championship, will come, and unlike me, most of the competitors prefer gravel. It will be interesting anyway, and I am curious, what kind of stages are marked by the organizers. And surely, I would love to be at the start.”