14th Delfi Rally Estonia 2024 – The mission to Estonia –

Barely three weeks after the last Scandinavian Rally, our team was already heading north again. The destination was Estonia, where the last ERC round was held in 2016, although in recent years the WRC calendar has had a rented place for the event, this time the EC field was back in the centre of the event in Tartu. The goal was for Patrik Herczig and Márton Bertalan to complete a total of 187 kilometres of incredibly fast gravel speed stages.

Fortunately, we managed to arrange a test on Wednesday of the race week already out in Estonia. After that, on Thursday, the task was to go to the tracks unknown to our riders so far, where the aim was to write down the most accurate itinerary possible, and then to take over the machines. And so we were ready for the weekend.

On Friday, the day began with the usual shakedown, i.e. practice. For the duo Patrik Herczig – Kristóf Varga, the focus was on the ERC Junior category, while the duo Márton Bertalan – Róbert Paizs, after their success in the Hungarian race ERC4, entered in the same category. At the end of the day, one more rapid was added to the programme, at 1.48 km near Tartu, the Herczigs finished 10th in Junior with a minimal time loss, while the Bertalans managed to finish a classy 7th in ERC4 on the first stage.

On Saturday, the boys and the service team were in for an early morning to late evening ordeal, with a total of 9 rapid stages. After the first two stages, the top four places in the ERC Junior were held by two Estonians and two Swedes, which was no surprise, while the Herczigs took 7th place. Unfortunately, the Bertalan Marcs had a crash in the first rapid, which was a relatively long stage, but they were able to continue the race, albeit with a considerable gap.

For the next four stages both riders completed the stages steadily. The Herczigs were still in 7th place in the Junior, while Márton Bertalan tried to pick up the pace after the crash and succeeded in these four races.

The last lap of the day, which included three more fast laps for the evening. Well, only Patrik Herczig could finish this one, improving his position to 6th place in Junior!

 Unfortunately, the Bertalan – Paizs duo had another problem with the trail runners, one of them threw him off the road, which meant that they could not continue the race, but they still managed to gain a lot of experience.

B.M.: “We are very sorry, but for us the European Championships in Estonia ended not far from the finish of the ninth rapid. Again we had problems with the tracks, in fifth we were thrown out by one of them and hit a tree. Nevertheless, we learned a lot and gained experiences that will keep us moving forward! Because we will not back down from this! We look forward to competing again soon!”

Sunday started with just one pair, the Herczigs trying to get the best out of their Peugeot 208. The four remaining races took place on two tracks. After the first two, the Hungarian team was still in 6th place, in a relatively vacuum, with fifth place Schulz still some distance ahead of them and the others even further behind. So the aim for the last two fastest laps was to retain 6th place and perhaps get a good result for extra points on the Power Stage. Both were achieved, as a 3rd place was managed on the last fast lap, which was chaotic in terms of weather, and in light of this, 6th place in the Junior overall was also bagged.

P. Herczig – K. Varga: “We have had one of the best, if not the best, race weekends of our lives. Estonia is wonderful, with fantastic speed stages. Step by step we have built our confidence and pace, sometimes in sunshine, sometimes in downpours and thunderstorms. The perfect end to our weekend was a 3rd time on the Power Stage.”

The team’s next race will be at home at the Székesfehérvár Rally, 13-14 July!

Author: Nándor Puzsár