FIA European Historic Rally Championship – 56th Mecsek Rally

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Thomas Erdi Jr storms to victory on home event

Playing their home ground advantage to the full and the sort of pace that has seen them challenge on every appearance this year, local hero Tibor Erdi Jnr and his Croatian co-driver Istvan Kerek won the Mecsek Rally outright in their purple-hued Group A Ford Sierra Sapphire Cosworth 4×4.  This, their second victory of the season after winning the Historic Vltava Rallye in Czech Republic in April, pushes Erdi and Kerek to the points lead in Category 4, the most modern class in the series.

The passionate local crowds cheered Erdi on to victory by a margin of 1min 20s from the all-Italian crew of ‘Lucky’ and his famous former World Rally Championship co-driver Fabrizia Pons in their Lancia Delta Integrale 16V.  ‘Lucky’ drove flat out to recover time after breaking a front driveshaft on the first day, forcing the pair to change it at a remote service and setting the dominant stage-winning pace thereafter as they clawed their way back up the field.

Érdi Tibor Jnr, co-driven by Kerék István, won his home round of the championship in a Ford Sierra RS Cosworth 4×4 Photo courtesy Mecsek Press

The event had to be stopped after SS3 on Friday evening due to a red alert for severe storms in the Pécs region, meaning teams in the service area had to pack up tents for the night and stages 4-6 were cancelled.  Thankfully, although there was flooding, no major damage was done to the area.  After a cleanup by the organisers, who removed fallen branches and other debris left by the storm, it was declared safe to resume the rally in time for Saturday morning’s loop of three stages, although the conditions remained challenging for the crews.

In particular, the heavy rain had made tyre choices difficult when judging how best to navigate the forest sections.  Sections out in the open had dried very quickly as temperatures soared after the storm, but in the cool beneath the trees there was plenty of standing water for the crews to contend with on Saturday morning.

Behind the two four-wheel-drive Group A cars Karl Wagner and Gerda Zauner finished third in their sonorous Porsche 911 3.0 SC, the Austrian pair also claiming the Category 3 victory by a wide margin.  The distinctive yellow Porsche benefitted from a new exhaust system for the Hungarian event, with the enthusiasts agreeing that the result sounded wonderful through the forest and mountain stages. 

See our report in the August 2023 issue…

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