Rally Hungary promises to provide plenty of action and entertainment when it hosts round four of the 2020 FIA European Rally Championship from November 6-8. Here are just some of the talking points ahead of the Nyíregyháza-based event.
Bad to good: After losing out on the ERC title in a final-stage decider on Rally Hungary last season, Alexey Lukyanuk will be hoping to leave Nyíregyháza 12 months on with good memories, not bad.
Car switch for Solberg: Having contested the opening three rounds of the 2020 ERC in a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, ERC1 Junior title contender Oliver Solberg switches to a Eurosol-run Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo for his Rally Hungary debut. Austrian prospect Simon Wagner will drive a second Fabia for the Hungarian team on his championship comeback.
Champion returns: Nikolay Gryazin, winner of the ERC1 Junior title in 2018, is back for his second ERC start of 2020 with the Russian lining up in a Hyundai i20 R5 run by the Belgian BMA squad of Bernard Munster, father of ERC1 Junior frontrunner Grégoire Munster. Both talents are Rally Hungary rookies.
World class: World Rally Championship event winner Andreas Mikkelsen is set for his first ERC start in eight years in a Topp-Cars Rally Team-run Fabia, the outfit behind Hungarian hope Ádám Velenczei, who is eligible for ERC1 Junior points and embroiled in the fight for the Hungarian title.
Hungary for success: Velenczei is one of a number of top Hungarian talents in action on the country’s ERC counter. MOL Racing Team’s four-time national champion and ERC podium finisher Norbert Herczig, 2019 title winner Ferenc Vincze and Andras Hadík, the 2018 national champion, are among a list of rapid local drivers that also includes Frigyes Turán, who famously won Rally Hungary in 2019. Herczig’s 17-year-old son, Patrik Herczig, will be competing on an ERC event for the first time.
Double chances: Team MRF Tyres will once again count on Craig Breen and Emil Lindholm for on-stage success. Meanwhile, the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy is expanding to a two-car line-up for Rally Hungary with Josh McErlean partnering team regular Callum Devine, who was a fine third overall in Hungary last season.
Braun remains: With German talent Marijan Griebel’s intended co-driver Pirmin Winklhofer unavailable, the double ERC Junior champion has recruited Tobias Braun for the second event running. Albert von Thurn und Taxis will also fly the German, while Austrian Niki Mayr-Melnhof followed his friend von Thurn und Taxis in switching from GT racing to rallying.
Youngsters aiming to shine: Erik Cais (Yacco ACCO Team), Efrén Llarena (Rallye Team Spain) and ORLEN Team’s Polish champion Miko Marczyk start Rally Hungary chasing their first ERC1 Junior wins, while Brose Motorsport’s Dominik Dinkel will also be a contender for top honours with Ursula Mayrhofer back on co-driving duties after missing Rally Fafe Montelongo. All four drivers showed strong form in Portugal, while Cais heads to Hungary – where he won ERC3 last season – on the back of wins on national-level events in Italy and Poland. Llarena has also competed since Portugal, coming home fourth on Rally Princesa de Asturias last month.
Tempestini returns as a champion (again): Simone Tempestini returns to ERC1 Junior duty as a five-time Romanian champion. He’s also back in the Citroën C3 R5 he helped to develop in 2018 having rallied a Škoda Fabia more recently.
Bravo Bonato: Following his outright podium on Rally Fafe Montelongo, Yoann Bonato is gearing up for his second ERC start in a Michelin-equipped Citroën C3 R5. However, Mads Østberg will no longer take up his planned entry in a similar car run under the Citroën Rally Team Hungary banner, although former ERC3 regular Kornél Lukács will be in action for the squad under his pseudonym Csucsu.
Seven-up in ERC2: Seven drivers will go for gold in ERC2 with home hero Tibor Érdi Jr eyeing a trio of 2020 category wins. He’s tied on points with Zelindo Melegari, who’s back in a Subaru Impreza for his Rally Hungary debut. Dmitry Feofanov is only five points behind after three rounds. Andrea Mabellini heads the four-strong Abarth Rally Cup entry with also includes Roberto Gobbin, Martin Rada and newcomer Mihnea Mureșan from Romania.
Six appeal: Six drivers are entered in Pirelli-supported ERC3 Junior. Estonian Autosport Junior Team’s Ken Torn tops the standings ahead of Rallye Team Spain’s Pep Bassas. Belgian Amaury Molle and first-time entrant Norbert Maior from Romania, plus Ola Jr Nore and Rachele Somaschini, who will give the Toksport-run Renault Clio Rally5 its ERC debut, are also in contention for category honours.
Local contingent: Martin László landed an ERC3 podium on Rally di Roma Capitale in the summer, where Adrienn Vogel also impressed in fifth position. Vogel upgrades to a Ford Fiesta Rally4 for her second ERC start of 2020. Csaba Juhász was also in action in Rome, finishing seventh in class.
Badiu’s back: Romania’s Raul Badiu, who has shown strong form in the Junior World Rally Championship, makes his first ERC start since the Sibiu Rally in 2013 when the steering wheel of his Dacia Logan famously came off mid-stage.