Miklós Csomós delivered the ultimate ‘Mixi style’ masterclass with a dominant performance on leg one of Rally Hungary, the deciding round of the 2023 FIA European Rally Championship.
Nicknamed ‘Mixi’, the home hero who is from Hungary’s north-east Zemplén region where the ERC event is based, charged to the top of the times with the fastest run through Saturday’s opening test.
His effort on the 19.95km Újhuta-Nyíri stage gave him a lead of 6.2sec, which he extended through the morning to reach service in Nyíregyháza leading his compatriot Ferenc Vincze, the Hungarian champion for 2023, by 14.5sec.
“It was fantastic, real ‘Mixi style’ and we keep the plan that we spoke about in the morning,” said Viktor Bán, co-driver to Csomós.
“We are happy because we wanted to be fastest in the first loop and we can gain a big gap. We had one mistake so I have to control Mixi on almost every stage. It’s not that much but I have to say to him to take it easier. The car has been perfect so thank you to the team for the work.”
By winning this afternoon’s opening stage, Csomós extended his lead to 20.6sec after six stages aboard his Pirelli-equipped Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo. Although Mads Østberg narrowed that gap to 17.9sec by winning SS7, Csomós holds top spot heading into Sunday’s four stages by 22.6sec.
After a “massive impact with a rock” on SS2, Østberg (Citroën C3 Rally2) engaged in a thrilling battle with Vincze, who succeeded him as Hungarian champion. Following four changes of position between the pair, Østberg was able to edge ahead on SS7 and completed Saturday’s action 10.2sec ahead of Vincze, who holds third in a Hankook-shod Fabia.
Erik Cais relied on co-driver Igor Bacigál’s hand signals after the intercom in their Michelin-equipped Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 failed early in stage two. Despite this time loss, the Czech is fourth overall after eight stages.
Miko Marczyk, who won the Qualifying Stage before topping SSS1 on Friday, was fifth on his first appearance on Tarmac in his Fabia RS Rally2 but rolled into retirement 10.1km into Saturday’s final stage. Both Marczyk and co-driver Szymon Gospodarczyk were uninjured.
Marti?š Sesks is fifth on what he’s described as a “learning rally”, while Yoann Bonato suffered a brief off when he went “too fast in a slow corner” early on SS7. The Frenchman holds sixth overnight ahead of 2019 Rally Hungary winner Frigyes Turán, András Hadik, Gábor Nemét and Martin László.
Former FIA World Touring Car Cup winner Norbert Michelisz had been sitting in a strong 11th place on his first rally but dropped back when he pulled to the side of the road to change a damaged left-rear tyre on SS7.
Mathieu Franceschi, Efrén Llarena and Filip Mareš were all delayed by damaged tyres. Franceschi needed to fit a replacement front-left wheel after SS2 and also stopped on SS7, while Llarena, the road-opening 2022 ERC champion, and Mareš both stopped after 9.3 kilometres to replace damaged right rears on SS3. Philip Allen was also delayed on SS3 and again on SS7.
Although Josh McErlean’s Hyundai i20 N Rally2 – damaged when he struck a tyre stack on SSS1 – was repairable, the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy team elected to retire its ERC points scorer on Friday evening.
In the battle for FIA Junior ERC Championship glory – and a prize drive in the 2024 FIA Junior WRC – Norbert Maior heads fellow Peugeot 208 Rally4 driver Roberto Daprà.
The 2023 FIA European Rally Championship season concludes tomorrow (Sunday) with four stages over a competitive distance of 59.29 kilometres. Óhuta-Fony, a 10.75-kilometre test from 09:12 CET, is up first. The Rally Hungary-deciding Power Stage, Sárga Borház, which challenges crews over a 12.63-kilometre route, is due to begin at 15:05 CET.