It was demanding. So much that two-time Dakar winner Nasser Al-Attiyah yet forgot to drink at the nearly 100-km special stage, because he had so many things to do with the track. Certainly he tried to keep the pace, since he was being hunted by a factory Mini driven by Mikko Hirvonen, who had finished second in the overall classification of the World Rally Championships four times. By the way, the Finnish driver – in the Qatari’s absence – won the Hungarian World Cup race, HunGarian Baja last year.
Hirvonen aimed at repeating his success this year as well, but he did not have any chance, since Nasser Al-Attiyah confirmed his dominancy by winning four from five stages and lost the last one by only 1 second (against Aaron Domzala).
‘I am very happy that I could win in Hungary for the fourth times. I have loved this race since I came here for the first time in 2008. It was not easy at all, I had to focus on until the end, so much that I realised I had forgotten to drink only at the end of the first stage on Sunday. But the weather was great and so is the track, we could see lots of fans by the road and our car worked perfectly, too. Overall we enjoyed it very much’ said Nasser Al-Attiyah.
Mikko Hirvonen already knew after the first stage on Sunday, when his gap behind the leader was more than 3 minutes, that he had chance for the victory only if Al-Attiyah had made mistake. However, the Qatari did not do a favour.
‘Nasser (Al-Attiyah) was again very fast, while we had no proper pace to beat him’ said Hirvonen. ‘Though I pushed the first 40 km of the morning session to the limit, but later I had some risky moment, so I hold back a bit, but really a bit, because I felt, if I had not done it, we would have rolled over. The second place is not that bad, but surely it never makes me perfectly satisfied. I am glad though that although this is our second race with Andy (Schultz), we have worked more and more in harmony. Nasser is a very strong opponent, it will be difficult to make up those seconds and minutes, but I do believe that it can happen.’
The Polish Kuba Przygonski held his third position very steadily. He fought a big battle with Martin Prokop during the weekend, who was eventually hunted by Miroslav Zapletal. By the way, the Czech performs well in the Hungarian championships.
‘The first stage of the last day went very well, we pushed the gas and had a great fight with Prokop. The track was a bit different from the one on Saturday, because we arrived at the jumps from the opposite direction, but at least we had some familiar places. It was a great race, totally different from the other World Cup races: rather bumpy and due to the rain full of water splashes – that meant the biggest challenge. I am satisfied with the third place, because we achieved it among excellent drivers, in front of us Nasser and Mikko, behind us Prokop, so it can be considered as a quite nice company.’
As the best Hungarian Pál Lónyai finished ninth. He competed focusing all the way down and managed to hold his position.
‘We drove at the same stage as yesterday, but in the opposite direction and I have to say that it was even more difficult. It meant big challenges for all cars and drivers. We managed to keep the car on the road, but we had some risky moments, when we were just hoping not to turn over. It was a real Baja race. The difficulties of today’s stage lied in the fact that it had rained yesterday and the day before, so the field had made lots of ruts and it was not really pleasant to arrive at them from the opposite direction.’
Among bikes the second placed biker of last year’s Dakar, the Slovakian Stefan Svitko emerged absolutely from the field. He was extremely fast and he won all the stages even so he fell down at the first one on Sunday.
‘The morning session did not go well, because about 50 km after the start the bike slid from under me on the slippery stones, but fortunately either me or my bike had no trouble. Then 30 km before the finish the rear brake was lost, it also caused some difficulties. Overall I am very happy to win my first HunGarian Baja.’
Alessandro Ruoso could step on the second place of the podium. He was not unsatisfied either, since the Italian confirmed his leading position in the overall classification of the World Cup.
‘It was a great stage, faster than yesterday. I had no problems, everything went well. I know that many people complained about the wind, but it did not disturb me at all and it blew everyone equally. I am at the second place and leading the World Cup overall classification, I do not have anything to complain about.’
For the Polish Jan Brabec this race can be regarded as a kind of home race.
‘It was a great stage, but I do not like the strong wind yet, it is a bit risky. The track is a technical one. It was slippery on the stones, but overall I like the Hungarian race and I had no problem at all weekend.’
As the best Hungarian Richárd Hodola finished 2nd in the European Championships classification. ‘It was a great challenge in this strong international field. I would have been happy to finish in top 10 in the overall what I achieved. I was on my maximum’ – said Hodola.
HUNGARIAN BAJA, WORLD CUP RACE
Overall classification. Cars: 1. Nasser al-Attiyah, Mathieu Baumel (Qatari, French, Toyota Hilux) 5:24:54, 2. Hirvonen, Schulz (Finnish, German, Mini John Cooper) +3:38 min, 3. Przygonski, Colsoul (Polish, Belgian, Mini John Cooper) +8:02 min, …9. Lónyai, Horn (Hungarian, Porsche Macan) +41:21 min. Bikes: 1. Stefan Svitko (Slovakian, KTM) 5:37:54, 2. Ruoso (Italian, KTM) 16:53 min, 3. Brabec (Polish, Husqvarna) 22:20 min