2017. July 08. 18:28
The Balázs Szalay – László Bunkczi completed the first short but tough stage of the Silk Way Rally on the 20th place. It was not long enough to win the race, but it was long enough to lose it in an instant. 
But let’s see go through details!

The long distance cross country rallying is not something you joke with. The first real stage of the Silk Way Rally was a real proof for that because it was rather difficult from all points of view. The alarm clock went on as early as half past two. After the racers arrived to the service park a 600 (!) kilometer long liaison was ahead of them. At its end, a 61 kilometer long selective was prescribed for the very first race day.

Those who think, that the measured stretch was a walk in the park due to its relative shortness, are all mistaken. It was raining heavily right before the start, which turned the soil into slippery mud (what dried up in no time at certain spots). By the time the Balázs Szalay – László Bukoczi pair started the race with the Opel Mokka and reached the middle of the daily distance, the heavenly blessing started to pour again. 

“It was a tricky course, but we did not spend as much time with tire selection as we should have. To be more exact, we did not believe that it will rain so heavily, therefore we did not put on new tires” explained the pilot of the Opel Dakar Team, Balázs Szalay. “The used tire would have been fine on rocks, but it was as slippery at some parts of the muddy trails, as we were driving on ice. It happened a few times that I pressed the gas to the ground in second and third gear, but the wheels were just spinning at standstill. We slid across the turns, what was rather interesting to watch, I guess, but was not fast enough, for sure.”

It was a fortunate incident, when the service team caught up with Szalay and Bunkoczi on public road. Their windscreen wiper got broken after 200 kilometers and if they do not replace it, they could not have completed the stage. They simply would not have seen anything. So they already had adventures on the very first race day…
“Arriving close to the first checkpoint a buggy slipped into the ditch ahead of us. It was standing in the middle of the road” recalled László Bunkoczi another event. “We got around to reach the checkpoint, that was two hundred meters from us, but the GPS did not sense one of the points, so we had to turn back. We lost more than a minute. In the meantime, the buggy found its way out and came towards us. This day was full of adventures, this was just and extra.”
The other Hungarian unit of the field, the Miklós Kovávcs – Péter Czeglédi – László Ács (Scania) trio arrived to the finish on the 16th position with great time result, only with a ten-some-minute disadvantage. This narrow, curvy and demanding track gave much harder time for the pilots of the truck monsters than to the car pilots.  

 Stage 1. Moscow - Cheboxary (total distance: 726.95 km, selective: 61.43 km). Cars: 1. Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena (France, Peugeot 3008 DKR Maxi) 42:02, 2. Peterhansel, Cottret (France, Peugeot 3008 DKR) 29 minutes disadvantage, 3. Despres, Casterra (France, Peugeot 3008 DKR) 2:14 m d., 20. Balázs Szalay, László Bunkoczi (Hungary, Opel Mokka) 17:42 m d.

  Trucks:  . Martin Kolomy, Jíri Stross, Michal Ernst (Czech Republic, Tatra) 49:43, 2. Loprais, Alkendi, Holan (Czech Republic, UAE, Czech Republic Tatra) 51 s d., 3. Van Genuten, Alcayna, Der Kinderen (Neatherlands, Spain, Neatherlands) 2:03 m d., ...16. Miklós Kovács, Péter Czeglédi, László Ács (Hungary, Scania) 10:39 m d.

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