Balázs Szalay loves challenges, he is passionate for the desert and the Dakar Rally. If someone is talking about the Dakar Rally in Hungary his name is definitely mentioned – many people simply call him the Hungarian of the Sahara. The 47 year old racer participated in the desert show eleven times and successfully accomplished the stages of the hardest cross country rally race seven times.
His career began with finishing the Road Atlanta race school in 1995 and afterwards he took a BMW race course in Imola. He first set off on the Dakar Rally in 1996 and he is preparing for his twelfth Dakar at the moment. He was the first Hungarian pilot (with Tamás Jakab copilot) who managed to accomplish the ‘marathon’ stages of the Dakar challenge and he is the only racer in the country who already conquered the Sahara seven times.
In 2010 Szalay and Bunkoczi grasped the Hungarian championship title – for the first time in their career – what was an outstanding achievement in the consistent field, and the heightening tendency is proven by the fact that in 2011 the pilot was close behind the first position on the international race.
In the upcoming January was standing again at the start of the Dakar Rally and in spite if all technical hardships he achieved the best result in his life, he finished on the 20th position. In the next July (2012) Szalay and Bunkoczi finished on the brilliant 2th place at the famous Silkway Rally in Russia, it was a good preparation for the Dakar 2013.
László Bunkoczi has been doing sports since he was a child, car racing followed swimming and pentathlon. The master of art – economist completed the school of auto sports: he took part in slalom races and tour races and in 2002 the first class national rally championship followed.
As a co-pilot, with Tibor Dornai they won bronze medal in their category on the first national championship season (2002). Their performance could be characterized by reliability and preparedness. (out of 8 races they finished on scoring places 6 times, 5 times on the podium) Bunkoczi has been navigating for Balázs Szalay on the Dakar Rally since 2004. That was a dream of his that came true. That was Laci’s first cross country rally experience and straightly ended in deep water.
He did just fine and the duo finished 52nd. Since that, they are having better and better positions (21., 29., 35., 22., 20.) on the most difficult desert contest.
Laci became the member of the team when Szalay changed to Opel and the two meetings together brought luck somehow. Since that, they successfully completed all Dakars they did together and overwhelmingly they finished in the forefront of other mid-year races. In 2009 they won the Central-European Zone Trophy, they became Hungarian Champions together, they finised on the brilliant second place at the famous Silkway Rally and they prepare for the 2013 Dakar Rally together.
In the beginning they were “only” race mates but during all those years their relationship became a solid friendship, moreover, the two racers have more common businesses.
This was tough
Balázs Szalay and László Bunkoczi in the top ten after another rainy day on the Silk Way Rally