Rally / 24 July 2013
ERC: Zoltan Bessenyey defends his lead in the 2WD ChampionshipNext weekend the ERC moves to Eastern Europe - and first up is the Sibiu Rally, located 282 kilometers northwest of Bucharest, the capital of Romania.
This year, ERC regulations allow drivers to count their best four scores from the opening six events with their best four scores from the final six rounds. Having achieved four best results in the first part of the season, Honda driver Zoltan Bessenyey heads up the 2WD division - with a margin of 22 points over fellow Hungarian Korn?l Lukacs. This means that the Sibiu Rally, as the 7th round of the ERC, is the first chance for Zoltan Bessenyey and co driver Julianna Nyirfas to score fresh points in the second part of the season.
?The Sibiu Rally is an unknown challenge for us?, clarifies Zoltan Bessenyey. ?I can only fall back on the onboard footage of the rally, and the experience that Eurosol team boss Janos Puskadi has gained here, to get an idea of what awaits us. I?ll have a much better idea after completing two passages during the allowed recce. That said, we?ve already faced worse than this: I think of our baptism in Ypres ? without doubt one of the hardest competitions in the ERC ? was tougher as we fought against drivers who knew the Belgian classic very well indeed.?
In contrast with Ypres, 80% of the Sibiu Rally will be driven on gravel roads - with some asphalt sections - and will take the drivers through the breath-taking forests of the Romanian countryside. Talking about the degree of difficulty involved in driving fast on gravel roads and saving the car, explains Zoltan: ?Last year avoiding punctures was almost impossible. However, it?s really positive to hear that the local government has worked very hard to repair the roads, making them smoother and far less punishing of the cars. Of the 228 kilometers, 20% will be driven on tarmac and one will happen by night, which I?m satisfied with. All the same, you can?t make any mistakes if you want reach the finish!?
Just like in the Geko Ypres Rally, Zoltan and co-driver Julianna may expect some healthy competition in 2WD. Some of their main rivals will be Korn?l Luckacs, the Hungarian driver who slipped off track in Ypres, and Alexandru Filip, who is leads a strong delegation of Romanian 2WD-drivers.
?The Honda Civic is robust enough to allow us to survive this tough battle,? says Zoltan. ?If we can maintain the same strategy as our previous rallies in the Canary Islands and the Acores we would normally hope for a place on the podium but, personally, I would like to go for victory. The first round of the second half of the ERC is always about scoring enough points. This really does count: you can?t make any mistakes.?
In addition to the Hungarian Honda driver, another Honda Civic Type R will be competing in this week?s 2WD battle. This will be driven by Romanian Serban Tomita, who finished 9th in the 2WD category last year.
The Sibiu rally starts on Friday 26th July at 14h01 and after seven Special Stages ? as well as Paltinis and Santa, run under the cover of darkness - the drivers will have been behind the wheel for 101,80 kilometers. The competition continues on Saturday with the stage of Sadu, on asphalt, and Gatu Berbecului - which at 32,000 kilometers is the longest Special Stage in the rally and will be driven twice. The fourteenth and final Special Stage is a short, 3,80 kilometers Super Special Stage. After a grand total of 228,00 km against the clock, the first car will cross the finish line at 18h24.
Before Zoltan jumps behind the wheel of the Eurosol-Honda Civic Type R, however, he will be expected to head to a local football field on Thursday evening! As leader of the 2WD Championship he was asked to play a football game in a team of ERC drivers, purely for fun, against a team of local celebrities.