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Hungarian Baja: About Cross Country rallies in Hungary.

Thanks to the series of Hungarian successes in the Dakar Rally, cross-country rally is becoming increasingly popular in Hungary. Among those who watched the January race on TV, not everybody knows that there is a Hungarian cross-country championship, with eight races per year.

Let us start the introduction to this sport with the very beginning: how should one imagine the races, which are the basic rules and how can one join the competition?

Cross-Country Rally arrived to Hungary in the early eighties trough Italian meditation. The first championship was held in 1992, and is organized every year ever since. Currently, professional drivers compete in 6-8 races a year for overall, category and team positions. A race is usually 2-3 days long, although on the international level one can find races that last for a week. The race begins, usually on Fridays, with administrative- and scrutineering checking, when cars are checked whether they correspond to the regulations and when racers can officially enter the race. Some races have a so called prologue, which is a short, max. ten kilometres long stage, which is timed. The results achieved here only determine the start order, and are not included in the racing time.

Cross-Country Rally vs. Rally

Cross-country rally fundamentally differs from the popular rally in many aspects. The latter is organized on a closed course, which competitors can practice in advance, making pacenotes of the curves, where to brake or accelerate, etc. During the race their task is to complete the practiced course in the shortest possible time.

In cross-country rally, competitors do not know the course in advance. They receive the so called itinier, which contains the route information, only on the day of the race, one hour before the start. What counts is speed, that is, who completes the course in the shortest time. There are two types of sections in a race: link (or etap) and competitive (or selective) sections. The link sections serve to connect the competitive sections, providing a route to approach the competitive sections that are few kilometres away from each other. Of course, there is a time limit at the link sections, too, but they are not timed, although late arrival is punished. On the selective sections, speed is what counts. The final result is determined by the combined results achieved on the selective sections. On a race day, generally 3 to 4, on long distance races, 5 competitive sections are planned.

Cross-Country Rally vs. Off-Road

Cross-country rally is, in the strict sense of the word, an off-road rally, since it is conducted on the ’field’ and not on asphalt. What makes it significantly different from off-road rally is that it is a race against the clock. There are neither pre-established obstacles that one has to pass without touching the buoys, nor are there steep slopes difficult to climb. What makes cross-country difficult is the diversity of surfaces. Races begin in February, when the field is still covered by snow, then later the snowy-icy surface is replaced by mud, then with sandy and dry surface, then comes mud again in the fall, and during the closing race in November drivers often encounter snow, or most likely rain. The race is won by those who manage to adjust their car to the weather conditions and put the right tyre on.

Categories and classes

The cars in cross-country rally are evaluated not only overall, but also according to groups and classes. Currently, two groups exist: T1 (Series Cross-Country Cars) and T2 (Modified Cross-Country Cars). Classes are determined by the engine’s cylinder capacity:

Class 1: up to 2000 cm3
Class 2: from 2001 to 4000 cm3
Class 3: over 4000 cm3
Class 4: diesel engine

Thus a T1/4 class means a diesel series race car, a T2/3 designation would indicate a seriously improved (or individually build) car with an engine over 4000 cm3 cylinder capacity.

How can I join the championship?

In order to take the starter’s flag in a cross-country race, one has to pass a minimum exam. This is practically a test on the race and technical regulations of the sport (collected in a booklet that one can obtain at the secretariat of the NAFH). Following the exam and the acquisition of a racing license, one could immediately enter the competition, provided, of course, that he or she possesses a valid driving license and a properly equipped race car. Those who do not wish to race immediately among the professionals can choose the Cross-Country Amateur Cup, which is organized for the second time by the National Automobilsport Federation of Hungary. Basically every off-road vehicle that fulfils traffic requirements can participate in this race. Of course, the idea is that if one gets the taste, he or she would fall in love with the sport and would think of nothing else than to build his or her own professional race car...

2006/08/16 | 11:08 CET | Editor: mr/Hungarian Baja

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