The HRT Racing Team and Romanian rallying heroes Norbert Maior and Francesca Maior took part in their third joint race this year. Barely a week after a great result in the ERC in Poland, the next challenge was already on the agenda in Romania at Rally Argesului. In the beautiful, breathtaking Transylvanian countryside, the second round of the Romanian championship was contested over two days.
A long day was expected on Friday. Shakedown practice started early in the morning with a short 2.5 km track. Then came the sharp stages – four in all, the last one a superspecial in the race centre in Pitesti, already in the dark.
The weather played tricks on the riders on Friday, with the first rapid still completely dry and the second in wet conditions. The Maiores reacted well to the changing conditions and were able to wait for the rest of the day in 4th place. Championship leader Sebastian Barbu crashed and was forced to retire. The last two rounds took place at dusk and in total darkness, the latter an urban special with plenty of spectators. The result at the end of the day was an absolute 5th place, just a hand’s length away from 4th place, while in the FWD (front wheel drive) category Norbert and his team were confidently in the lead.
Norbert Maior: “We finished the first day of the Raliul Argeşului! I must say it was a crazy day to choose and set the right tyres for such changeable weather, it was a headache. Tomorrow will be another tough day with lots of rain, but we are prepared. See you at Transfagarasan!”
Saturday was a day rich in race kilometres, almost double the previous one. This time the weather was kind to the drivers and the tarmac was dry. Five races were waiting for the Maiores to possibly move up from 5th place. First a fantastic second time on the first lap and then a third on the second rapid meant that they had climbed up to 3rd place in the standings, ahead of several Rally2 cars! The second round had three stages, including the middle one, the Power Stage, for extra championship points, where they managed to score an extra two points with a fourth place. Overall, the Maiors finished 4th overall, just 4.5 seconds off the podium. In the FWD category, they had no rivals this time either, confidently taking the trophy!
This result also meant that the Norbert Maior – Francesca Maior duo achieved a historic success, taking the lead in the Romanian championship after two races. No one in Romania has ever done this with a front wheel drive car! Congratulations for a great joint result!
Norbert Maior said after the race. But now we can say what is most important, after the first two races of the National Rally Championship we are in 1st place in the provisional overall standings. We don’t know how we will process this yet, but we are clearly incredibly happy and grateful for everything that is happening. We know that we can’t dream of keeping this position with our front-wheel drive car, but it gives us strength and confidence that we are doing what we do well and that there are certainly many good things in the future. The Argeș Rally was more than we hoped for, especially coming straight from Poland. After a crazy battle with the ever-changing conditions of the stages and choosing the right settings, we managed to get a 4th place in the overall classification and 1st place in the FWD category. We are extremely happy with our pace and the emotions we felt in each race. The car coped well with the conditions and Francesca Maior did an impeccable job. All in all, teamwork is making the dream come true. Thanks to everyone who came along and cheered us on. We hope they hear from us in Latvia! Thanks again to HRT racing for everything!” The schedule remains busy for the Maiores. From 16-18 June, the ERC Junior programme will hopefully continue for the brother and sister pair in Latvia, and then the Romanian championship will continue to heat up with the Maramures Rally from 23-25 June.