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Mon 24 Apr 2023

Ready to rumble in the ‘Red Cauldron’

The 2023 FIA European Rallycross Championship gets underway at Hungary’s Nyirád Racing Center this weekend (29-30 April), and the scene is set for a sensational scrap between proven champions, home heroes and some of the sport’s brightest rising stars.

The 2023 FIA European Rallycross Championship gets underway at Hungary’s Nyirád Racing Center this weekend (29-30 April), and the scene is set for a sensational scrap between proven champions, home heroes and some of the sport’s brightest rising stars.

Fast, technical and undulating in equal measure, Nyirád returned to the Euro RX calendar last year for the first time in almost a decade, serving up a mouth-watering feast of high-octane entertainment in the ‘Red Cauldron’ – so-called due to the distinctive colour of its unsealed surfaces, having been built on the site of a former bauxite quarry. Popular amongst competitors and spectators alike, it has been described by American racing legend Tanner Foust as his ‘favourite track in Europe’.

The ‘Red Cauldron’ is now preparing to roar once again – to the sound of 32 Euro RX1 and Euro RX3 cars, not to mention thousands of enthusiastic trackside fans cheering on their heroes behind the wheel.

EURO RX1: A HIGH-CALIBRE CONTEST

The Euro RX1 field is headlined by defending champion Anton Marklund, who is bidding to add a fourth career crown to his impressive CV this year. The Swede, who competes for SET Promotion, triumphed in Hungary last season, and the two drivers who joined him on the podium that day – Enzo Ide and Ulrik Linnemann – are both similarly back for more.

Double European Rallycross Champion Andreas Bakkerud left it late before lodging his entry in a Kárai Motorsport Sportegyesület-prepared Audi S1; the Norwegian will team up with fans’ favourite and three-time European Autocross Champion Tamás Kárai – one of six Hungarian drivers on the grid.

Other homegrown talents include László Kiss – a former national title-winner – and Máté Benyó, who recently won the 2023 Hungarian Rallycross Championship curtain-raiser at Máriapócs.

Last year’s Euro RX1 championship runner-up Jānis Baumanis returns with an all-Latvian team, while event-winner René Münnich is also sure to be a contender in his trusty SEAT Ibiza. Highly-rated young gun Sivert Svardal was a finalist at Nyirád last year, and fellow rising star Patrick O’Donovan – the reigning British Rallycross Champion – now has at his disposal a potent ex-Hansen Motorsport Peugeot 208 WRX. His father – 2007 British title-winner Ollie O’Donovan – joins him in the unique Proton Iriz RX.

EURO RX3: A NEW WINNER AWAITS

In Euro RX3, multiple title-winning outfit Volland Racing brings a quartet of Audi A1s for Damian Litwinowicz – the highest-placed returnee – Espen Isaksætre, Nils Volland and João Ribeiro, all of whom have prior podium form in the series. The team will similarly service the car of local driver Zsolt Szíjj ‘Jolly’.

Although the Audi has unquestionably been the machine to beat over the last few seasons, Volland is arguably facing its toughest challenge yet. Giant-killing Czech ace Jan Černý came within a whisker of victory at Nyirád last year, while fellow Škoda star Jens Hvaal was a revelation on his championship debut at the Nürburgring back in November.

Former French Junior Rallycross Champion David Bouet makes his bow at international level in a Renault Clio, and Ferenc Ficza – who previously participated in the FIA World Touring Car Championship – has recently made a successful transition from circuit racing to rallycross, beating multiple title-holder Roman Castoral to honours in the domestic series’ Super Touring Cars - 2000 class last year.

Adding an extra element of intrigue into the mix, whoever climbs onto the top step of the podium this weekend will be a first-time winner in Euro RX3 – so let battle commence!

Racing will get underway with heat one at 15:45 CET on Saturday (29 April), with all of Sunday’s action – from heat two onwards – to be broadcast live on RX+. Monthly and annual subscriptions can be purchased here, while race weekend tickets are available to buy on the gate.

Event entry lists can be found here: Euro RX1 / Euro RX3