Tue 26 Sep 2023

Star rookie Körmöczi aiming to close the gap in 2024

When Balázs Körmöczi announced his arrival in the FIA European Rallycross Championship with a podium finish on home soil at Nyirád back in April, some questioned if he had been flattered by local knowledge or if his performance would turn out to be just a flash in the pan. He swiftly put any such doubts firmly to bed.

When Balázs Körmöczi announced his arrival in the FIA European Rallycross Championship with a podium finish on home soil at Nyirád back in April, some questioned if he had been flattered by local knowledge or if his performance would turn out to be just a flash in the pan. He swiftly put any such doubts firmly to bed.


Although from a racing family and already a multiple champion on the domestic scene, Körmöczi was a complete unknown in the Euro RX3 paddock when he joined the grid for the 2023 curtain-raiser. By the end of the weekend, he was standing on the bottom step of the rostrum, having confidently and assertively taken the fight to the pace-setting Volland Racing Audis.


“That was the best result of my career so far,” he acknowledged. “When we tested at Nyirád, it was clear that we could set good times so I was hoping to be able to battle for the podium. There were a lot of fans there and it was a pleasure to drive in front of such a large Hungarian audience. The final was very stressful, but it was a great feeling to finish third on my European Championship debut.”

The 21-year-old Budapest native also made a bright start in round two at Montalegre, only to see his charge curtailed by engine issues – with reliability woes proving to be an unfortunate theme over the course of the campaign.


He showed strong speed once more in Hell – the circuit he described as the most difficult to get to grips with – but missed out on the final due to a slow getaway in the semi-final, and then excelled at the Estering last month, leading the way in free practice and posting top four times in both of Saturday’s heats.


A dominant performance in Sunday morning’s warm-up suggested Körmöczi was on for a very good result indeed in Buxtehude, but just as he was ramping up the pressure on race leader Espen Isaksætre in heat three, the engine in his strikingly-liveried Volkswagen Polo let him down again.


“That was the biggest disappointment of the season for me, because we could have fought for another podium there,” he rued. “Portugal and Germany were throwaway weekends in that respect, and that hurt. It was an important lesson that we will need more spare parts next year to prevent the same thing from happening again.

“Our lack of experience at this level also showed, I think. At Volland Racing, for example, they already knew the set-up for every circuit and had much more sophisticated technology available, which helped them to avoid technical problems. We are still lagging behind in comparison, but we’re trying to reduce that disadvantage.”


If 2023 was Körmöczi’s learning year – as he acclimatised to the tracks and the calibre of competition in the European Championship – then he is already pinpointing 2024 as his opportunity to go on the attack, preparing to return to Euro RX3 for another full campaign with a new engine in his Korda Racing-prepared VW.


“We thought we were going to have a more successful season in terms of getting through all the race weekends, so that is the target for next year when we hope to deliver a much stronger performance,” he explained.


“We will test as much as possible over the winter to try to eliminate the problems we encountered, so that in 2024, we can concentrate much more on getting the set-up right for each circuit. I’m sure it will be a strong field again in Euro RX3, but while it might sound bold, our goal is to finish inside the championship top three.”

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM