Desert Express 300 2024: Confident victories in the first race of the Hungarian Championship

Desert Express 300 2024: Confident victories in the first race of the Hungarian Championship

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The two-day race of the Desert Express 300 certainly did not spare the competitors, the mass of sand flowing into the open cars made it difficult to see, some had broken belts, broken stumps and many had to juggle with fuel. In the opening round of the FIA Central European Zone (CEZ) Cross-Country Rally Championship and the Hungarian National Cross-Country Rally Championship, competitors competed over a total distance of 400 kilometres.

Kristóf Karai found no challenger, leading the motorcycle/quad field all weekend and taking first place with 5 stage wins. "I've had a lot of preparation behind me, the bike was put together very well and I'm very satisfied. Everything came together, I got even more into it on day 2 and I'm happy to have taken all the stage wins." - said the gold medallist.

The young quaddie was followed by Róbert Bodor on his bike, who was right behind his rival for most of the weekend. The Slovakian rider, who finished second, was not expecting such a strong start to the season, especially as he had never raced on sandy terrain before. "I'm happy with the result, I let it go in the last stage and I was more sensible to avoid any problems. We didn't have any problems with the technique, we just had to refuel at the service station. The bumpy track was a challenge, it was throwing the bike a lot, it wasn't so healthy. It was a big strain on the body, although I think I'll feel it more in the next few days." - Róbert Bodor said.

Péter Kárpáti, 3rd in the category, started the new season with a lot of gym training after the few races last year. During the two days he faced deer, rabbits, dogs and even chased a pheasant. By stage 3, the cars were already very used to the sandy track, the deep corners were not easy to negotiate on two wheels, and on the ribbon-cut track, it was especially important to pay attention to the roadbook to find the right direction and avoid falling. "I really like this track, I'm happy with it. I could see that I wouldn't be able to catch up with the Polaris Quad guy and Robi, and the last stage was marked by the fact that one of our fellow riders crashed, and we wish Ricski Hodola a speedy recovery!" - said Péter Kárpáti.

Miroslav Zapletal confidently took the win in the Car Composite and Ultimate categories. The Ford driver was not to be outdone at any speedway, and after winning the last race of the 2023 season, he opened the new year in the lead. "The surroundings are beautiful, the hilly track was perfect and we got the settings right. The long, fast straights on day two suited our car and we set a great time." - said his navigator Marek Sykora.

Tomas Ourednicek arrived at the cross-country rally without mechanics, completing the Desert Express 300 in marathon race style. He tested new set-ups at Bugacon as Toyota didn't always follow his instructions. The changes proved successful, as he finished second fastest in the field, with David Kripal alongside him. "The fast jump sections were my favourite, and the high tempo sections on Sunday helped us to a silver medal," said the returning Dakar driver.

Third place overall and in T1+ went to the M1 Motorsport pair of Lőrinc Mészáros and Alexandra Miklós Miklós in the Ford F150 EVO+.
The winning time in the T4NAT was set by Balázs Molnár and Gabriella Molnár, who were between 2nd and 3rd in the race, fighting a great battle with Szilveszter Kéry and Szilárd Kánnár, but managed to be the fastest in the end. The pair were hampered by a heartbreak on the second lap, but their rivals also struggled with technical faults, and in the great competition, the will to win drove the pair to first place. "We were a bit worried that it would be boring, but that wasn't the case at all, we loved the track. The big, waist-high sandbanks rose up to the door and at the end you couldn't really control the car on the bends. We also encountered a herd of deer, but luckily they didn't run across in front of us." - said Gabriella Molnár, navigator.

Zoltán Garamvölgyi's Desert Express 300 ended with stage 3 after his prologue win on day 1, the retirement was caused by a running out of fuel. "I had a not so good feeling in the morning that we were going to run out of fuel and that's what happened. I was also debating how to safely carry a spare Coke bottle in case that happened, but of course we didn't do that," he said.

Qualisport had a productive practice session at the Bugacs track, where they tested different set-ups on the Hyena race camion. "We managed to set everything up as planned. We really enjoyed being able to drive through the woods as if we were in a tunnel, you had to calculate every millimetre because if you make a little mistake, the trees will lean." - said driver Miklós Kovács, who added that they will be competing in the next race in Paphos.

Challenger winner Richárd Bruzsa, who is in his second season of racing, is looking to improve his brake management in the future, as he had two punctures at the weekend. In the TH category, the Polish pair of Tomasz Kobylecki and Rafal Marton won the gold cup, while in the UP speed limit category, Tomás Tóth and Emil Kiss took the gold cup.

Unfortunately, the Sunday of the Desert Express 300 was overshadowed by the terrible tragedy at the Nyerges Rally, which was commemorated with a minute's silence at the awards ceremony.

After a short break, the next round of the M1 Flotta Hungarian Off-Road Rally Championship, Riverside Baja, will take place in Pápoc from 9 to 11 May.


Automatic translation of the Hungarian version




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