Szalay’s team on the 40th Dakar Rally!
2017. October 25. 19:39
The Balázs Szalay – László Bunkoczi duo returns to the Dakar Rally! The pair of the Opel Dakar Team will be measured against the best cross country rally racers of the world between 6 and 20 January in Peru, Bolivia and Argentina on the Dakar Rally celebrating its 40th jubilee.

This will be Szalay’s 13th Dakar Rally (this is a record number in Hungary) and the eighth with László Bunkoczi. Interestingly, when the pair starts together on the longest and hardest cross country rally race of the world, always reaches the final finish. (Szalay has one additional completed Dakar Rally from the year 2000, when he completed the distance with Tamás Jakab.)
The pilot raced in 33(!) countries and now the 34th is coming up, because none of them have ever raced in Bolivia before. 

“In the past years we raced rather in Africa in January, because it was attractive to return to our roots. But the fact, that the best cross country rally racers of the world are preparing for their fortieth Dakar Rally, started something in me too. It inspired me to return to South America after a four-year pause” stated Balázs Szalay. “Peru’s return means that there will be desert stages of the race again, these were missing lately from the race. This means that we can count on exciting battle, because as we all know, anything can happen among the dunes.”

And on high ground too, as the rest day will be held in Bolivia above 3500-meter altitude and stages were also prescribed over 4000-meter altitude. To Szalay this is not an issue. On a former Dakar they crossed the Argentina-Chile border at 4726 meter. He did not feel sick, though they will pay close attention to the symptoms of altitude sickness. 
“I started on my very first Dakar Rally twenty-two years ago. Certainly, the race has changed a lot since that. It moved from Africa to South America, the sixty-seventy percent of the field reaches the finish compared to the twenty-thirty percent in Africa” told us Szalay. “Now it is not as hard to complete the Dakar as it used to be, though to complete it without any issues and achieve a good position became much harder. Back in the days one could get squished in the best ten-twenty with some luck, but now this is almost impossible. Therefore, our aim is to stretch our boundaries each and every day to get the maximum of ourselves. “

The team will start with an externally and internally renewed car, an Opel Crossland X type jeep on the more than 9000 kilometer race distance. Following the new rules and regulations of the race the car’s spring move was increased with 5 cm, its ride frame height became 2 cm lower. The pair expects the car’s stability and manageability to be noticeably improved.
“At the moment, it is hard to tell our position in this extremely strong field, in which we haven’t raced for four years” told us László Bunkoczi, who completed almost two hundred thousand kilometers together with Balázs Szalay on different parts and in different deserts of the world. “Although we have been constantly confronted with the unknown on each and every desert race for years, this is something we just cannot get used to. It will be great to be there and we start the first stage, because none of us likes the preparation phase. I am very excited!”

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