Jānis Baumanis (Peugeot 208) won the opening round of the 2023 FIA European Rallycross Championship for Euro RX1 cars – Euro RX of Hungary – at Nyirád Racing Center in Hungary on Sunday (April 30). He won the final from Anton Marklund (Ford Fiesta Mk7) and Patrick O’Donovan (Peugeot 208). The win in the Euro RX3 category went to Damian Litwinowicz (Audi A1).
While the 2023 FIA World Rallycross Championship is set to go underway on June 3-4 at Montalegre in Portugal the 2023 FIA European Rallycross Championship for RX1 and RX3 cars saw its opening event this weekend (April 29-30) in Hungary with some format changes compared to last season. For 2023 the format is back to the system of four heats where afterwards the top 12 is qualified for the semi-finals. These semi-finals as well as the final are again run with six cars on a starting grid with the cars lined up in three rows, two cars per row.
Defending European champion Anton Marklund set the pace on Saturday in Euro RX1 with a fastest time in the practice session as well as in the first heat in the afternoon. Enzo Ide (Audi S1) and Jānis Baumanis, last years runner-up, set respectively a second and third time. Andreas Bakkerud (Audi S1), who was racing a Kárai Motorsport Audi S1, was fourth.
On Sunday Marklund added to his fastest time from Saturday a fifth fastest time in heat 2 before getting hit by Sivert Svardal (VW Polo Mk5) following first corner contacts in the third heat resulting for the Swede in a DNF followed by a DNS in heat 4. Therefore he qualified as 12th and claimed the last spot for the semi-finals. Top qualifier was Jānis Baumanis, fastest in heat 3, ahead of Enzo Ide, Hungarian Máté Benyó (Peugeot 208) and Patrick O’Donovan.
The first semi-final with Baumanis, Benyó, René Münnich (SEAT Ibiza Mk4) and Bakkerud on the first two rows went to Baumanis who led it from start to finish with Bakkerud and Benyó finishing second and third respectively and qualified for the final. The second semi-final had Ide and O’Donovan on the front row while Marklund was on the third row on the outside. After the start and the second corner Marklund was racing third and virtually qualified for the final. Then he climbed to second spot before passing through the joker lap section in the final lap to eventually finish third behind winner Ide and O’Donovan.
The first Euro RX1 final of the season had Baumanis and Ide on the front row. O’Donovan and Bakkerud were on the second row while the grid was completed by Benyó and Marklund on the third row. Baumanis had the better start and led it after the second corner from Ide and O’Donovan with Marklund on four. The Swede then made it through the joker lap section in the opening lap. He climbed to third in the race and further to second when the others completed their joker lap section. Baumanis had a comfortable lead to complete the joker lap section in the final lap to hold off Marklund and win the first race of the new season. Marklund came in second and O’Donovan third. Ide and Benyó finished fourth and fifth respectively while Andreas Bakkerud did not finish the final and was classified sixth.
In Euro RX3 top qualifier was Norwegian Espen Isaksætre (Audi A1) who joined Volland Racing over winter. He set fastest times in heat 3 and 4. His Volland Racing teammate Damian Litwinowcz qualified second ahead of Jan Černý (Škoda Citigo) and Nils Volland (Audi A1). Then Isaksætre and Černý finished second and third in the first semi-final behind Hungarian Balász Kőrmőczi (VW Polo Mk5) to qualify for the final. Litwinowicz drove to victory in semi-final 2 and together with Hungarian Ferenc Ficza (Suzuki Swift) and Norwegian Jens Hvaal (Škoda Fabia Mk3) they made it to the final.
The final with Litwinowicz and Kőrmőczi on the front row was won by the first named who led it from lights to flag. Černý was running second behind Litwinowicz until the penultimate lap and then went down to four after he came out of the joker lap section. This allowed Isaksætre to climb to second place and local driver Kőrmőczi to third place. With Litwinowicz passing through the joker lap section in the final lap he exited it ahead of Isaksætre to claim his first career win. Isaksætre and Kőrmőczi joined the Polish driver on the podium. Jens Hvaal finished fourth ahead of last finisher Jan Černý in fifth.
The next round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship for Euro RX1 and Euro RX3 cars is taking place at Montalegre in Portugal on June 3-4 alongside the opening event of the 2023 FIA World Rallycross Championship.
Euro RX1 – Final: 1. Jānis Baumanis (LV), Peugeot 208; 2. Anton Marklund (S), Ford Fiesta Mk7; 3. Patrick O’Donovan (IRL), Peugeot 208; 4. Enzo Ide (B), Audi S1; 5. Máté Benyó (H), Peugeot 208; 6. Andreas Bakkerud (N), Audi S1 – DNF.
Euro RX3 – Final: 1. Damian Litwinowicz (PL), Audi A1; 2. Espen Isaksætre (N), Audi A1; 3. Balász Kőrmőczi (H), VW Polo Mk5; 4. Jens Hvaal (N), Škoda Fabia Mk3; 5. Jan Černý (CZ), Škoda Citigo; 6. Ferenc Ficza (H), Suzuki Swift.
Euro RX1 (1/6): 1. Jānis Baumanis (LV), 23; 2. Anton Marklund (S), 16; 3. Enzo Ide (B), 14; 4. Patrick O’Donovan (IRL), 13; 5. Máté Benyó (H), 12; etc.
Euro RX3 (1/6): 1. Damian Litwinowicz (PL), 22; 2. Espen Isaksætre (N), 19; 3. Balász Kőrmőczi (H), 13; 4. Jens Hvaal (N), 12; 5. Jan Černý CZ), 12; etc.