This was tough
2017. July 12. 15:37
They worked hard to reach the bivouac. The organizers declared the Wednesday stage of the Silk Way Rally the hardest one so far and it was. Finally, the racers got rid of the mud and the rain.     
The Opel Dakar Team’s pair, Balázs Szalay and László Bunkoczi finished on the 13th place on the stage between Astana and Semej on the 484-kilometer-long selective and kept the 9th position in the overall rating. 

“Although it was a long and difficult stage, this was the most enjoyable so far” explained the Balázs Szalay, the pilot of the Opel Mokka. It was great that it did not rain much, the car performed well, not counting that we had a flat tire twenty kilometers before the finish and we lost six minutes changing it. But this is in the deck, especially, if you hit the car three thousand times, and that happened today. I had a bad stomach this morning, which hardened my task and it did not get any better, but adrenalin repressed the pain.

All racers of the field complained, that it was difficult to find the way in the tall grass, therefore the main roles were again played by the co-pilots. 
“After we started, we could not find the rhythm for the first twenty kilometers. I thought that we never reach the end of the stage. We got along, but we had to concentrate very hard” explained László Bunkoczi. “The field got scattered, there wasn’t any visible route, we were fighting constantly with a Buggy, whose pilot did not accept, that he has to look around before he steps on the gas. He overtook us four times and got lost four times, once even before the finish. He calmed down and let it go and came behind us till the finish. Finally, he thanked us that we lead him out to the finish. We were surprised!”

In such instances trust plays a great role between the pilot and the navigator. The Szalay – Bunkoczi pair has been racing together for 14 years, this is no question between them. 
“I did not see the road, but Laci told me the directions and I went that way. I could not see a thing in that tall grass, but once we arrived to a pole, what was in the itinerary and we went on” told us Szalay, who added that they were running with a great tempo, though they could not push the gas to the ground, they felt that the 100km/h speed is their final on that sinuous course.
The truck field participant Hungarian unit, the Miklós Kovács, Péter Czeglédi, László Ács trio’s performance can be characterized by constancy while the top racers keep falling out of the race, the crew of the Scania is heading toward its aim. The guys finished the Wednesday stage on the 12th position and stand on the overall 8th place. Now both Hungarian units are in the top ten!


Stage 5. Astana - Semej (total distance: 849.54 km, selective: 484.47 km). Cars: 1. Cyril Despres, David Castera (France, Peugeot 3008 DKR) 4:30:00, 2. Liu Yangui, Pan Hongyu (Chile, Bacimotor BJ40L) 6:26 m d., 3. Menzies, Mortensen (USA, Mini) 14:02 m d., ...13. Balázs Szalay, László Bunkoczi (Hungary, Opel Mokka) 41:27 m d. Trucks:1. Dmitrij Sotnikov, Ruslan Ahmagejev, Ilnur Mustafin (Russa, Kamaz) 4:32:17, 2. Sibalov, Mokejev, Nikitin (Russia, Kamaz) 4:03 m d., 3. Nikolajev, Jakovlev, Ribakov (orosz, Kamaz) 9:47 m d., ...12 Miklós Kovács, Péter Czeglédi, László Ács (Hungary, Scania) 1:10:45 h d.

Overall. Cars: 1. Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena (France, Peugeot 3008 DKR Maxi) 13:43:50, 2. Despres 50:16 m d., 3. Menzies 1:15:30 h d., 9. Balázs Szalay 2:57:17 h d. Trucks: 1. Dmitrij Sotnikov 15:25:26, 2. Sibalov 48 s d., 3. Kolomy, Stross, Ernst (Czech Repuclic, Tatra) 15:27 m d., ...8. Miklós Kovács 3:02:30 h d.

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