The official starting ceremony and a short special stage launched the Hungarian cross-country World Cup race, the HunGarian Baja.
Óváros Square of Veszprém was filled with life – with bikers, car and truck drivers. Nobody knew what to prefer: looking at the vehicles or trying to catch the competitors for a photo.
The starting ceremony took place in nice atmosphere, but it seemed obvious that the entrants were already thinking of the first stage. The crowd pleaser super special being full of jumps was not a long one (only 11 km), but it served as the starting of the race, moreover the first best ten drivers could choose their starting position for Saturday. Tactically it was not irrelevant, since rain was forecasted by night, so it may mean a lot, who cleans the road on Saturday.
The winner of the super special, Nasser al-Attiyah – as opposed to his normal routine – was not daredevil this time, but even more tactical: he chose the fourth starting position, while last year’s winner Mikko Hirvonen could start from tenth position.
"The Hungarian race is always difficult, so I expect big battle, but certainly my aim cannot be else, but victory. First I competed here in 2008 and since then I always return with great pleasure. And what is my tactics? There is no tactics, I just push the pedal as much as I can"... said Nasser al-Attiyah. And then while answering a bit funny question that he comes here so many times as if he comes home as a Hungarian citizen, he said:
"Why not? It is a beautiful country".By the way, at the press conference held before the starting ceremony they continuously pulled each other’s leg with Mikko Hirvonen, who told that since the Qatari driver had kicked his bottom at the Spanish World Cup race, now he decided to take a revenge.
"I expect huge battle, because last year the organisers laid down very difficult stages, I liked the forest roads as well as the shooting range. There is no room for tactics, Nasser is a very strong opponent" said Hirvonen.The best Hungarian was Imre Fodor, who finished at ninth place and finally he could start from the same position.
Among bikes Stefan Svitko was the fastest at the 11-km super special. It may be interesting that the Slovakian competitor, who finished second at last year’s Dakar, has never competed in Hungary even if we are speaking of two neighbouring countries.
"I do not know the stages at all, but the others advised me to pay attention for using the road book. I do feel it is time to learn how to use it properly"he joked, but at the same time it seemed he would take on the race very seriously regarding it as important training for Dakar.
Italian Alessandro Ruoso finished second behind him. He knows perfectly how to win in Hungary, because once he did it, although that particular race was taken place on different stages.
"I am leading the championships, but my situation is not easy, so this race is very important for me considering the overall result" declared Ruoso.Among bikes the best Hungarian was Richárd Hodola with his 12th position.
The 140-km stage, which is completed twice on Saturday, will provide perfect occasion for the competitors to gain some gaps.
HUNGARIAN BAJA, CROSS-COUNTRY WORLD CUP RACE, VESZPRÉM
Cars: 1. Naszer al-Attiyah, Mathieu Baumel (Qatari, French, Toyota Hilux) 7:33.2, 2.
Prokop, Tománek (Czech, Ford) 7:42.0,
3. Hirvonen, Schulz (Finnish, Germand, Mini John Cooper) 7:45.2,
…9. Fodor, Mesterházi (Hungarian, Ford Ranger) 8:26.9.
1. Stefan Svitko (Czech, KTM) 8:27.4,
2. Ruoso (Italian, KTM) 8:29.5,
3. Brabec (Czech, Husqvarna) 8:34.9
Source HunGarian Baja