For the first time in history, a rallycross driver has topped a list of the 50 best Hungarian racers in prestigious publication Autósport évkönyv – as Krisztián Szabó was praised for his ‘dedication and commitment’ over the course of his second full season in the FIA World Rallycross Championship in 2021.
From an autocross background, Szabó clinched consecutive FIA European Rallycross Championship Super1600 (now Euro RX3) crowns in 2016 and 2017 before stepping up to World RX in 2019, placing tenth overall in his rookie campaign and progressing through to the final on two occasions.
Following sporadic outings in 2020, he returned to the fray with GRX-SET World RX Team this season, belying his lack of experience to reach the final eight times in nine rounds behind the wheel of his Hyundai i20 – including a brace of top three finishes – en route to fifth in the title table.
His success saw him crowned ‘Driver of the Year’ in Autósport évkönyv’s TOP50 poll, published annually in the magazine’s yearbook since 2015. The list is compiled by the authors of the yearbook, with input from Hungarian motorsport insiders.
“I was delighted to see that for the first time in the history of our vote, a rallycross driver topped the list of the best Hungarian racers,” commented Autósport évkönyv editor, Gergő Gellérfi. “We have been following Krisztián’s career for many years and we consider his dedication and commitment to be exemplary – these qualities allowed him to become one of the world’s best rallycross racers from a talented young autocross driver in just over a decade.
“His fifth place in the World Championship along with his two top three finishes and numerous final appearances were the greatest achievements of Hungarian motorsport in 2021.”
Szabó maintained his commendable 100 per cent record of reaching the final in the first leg of the Nürburgring double-header last month, taking the chequered flag fourth before finding himself elevated to third by Timmy Hansen’s disqualification.
He subsequently outpaced highly-rated team-mate Niclas Grönholm in Sunday’s opening two qualifiers, but his hopes of concluding the campaign with a clean sheet of final appearances were scuppered by first corner contact at the semi-final stage.
“Both days started on a low for me,” the 29-year-old reflected. “I couldn’t feel the rhythm of the track on Saturday, but by the end of Sunday, I had a good feeling. I made the final on Saturday which was my goal and then we got a podium – without standing on the podium – as there were some penalties.
“Things looked good again for the semi-final on Sunday, but I got turned around and lost time. It was a shame not to be in the final for the first time all year, but in the end that doesn’t matter. I think I improved a lot through the weekend and I hope I can continue my learning curve in the same way for the coming years. It was very good to work with GRX-SET; I got great support from them and it’s been a pleasure to be part of this team.”
In addition to Szabó, other Hungarian rallycross drivers to feature in the Autósport évkönyv TOP50 list are Tamás Kárai (7th), Csucsu (18th), Szíjj Zsolt ‘Jolly’ (21st) and Attila Mózer (48th).