Tempestini wins dramatic 2024 ERC opener at Rally Hungary

Tempestini wins dramatic 2024 ERC opener at Rally Hungary

Simone Tempestini has taken victory at Rally Hungary, the opening round of the 2024 ERC (European Rally Championship) season.

The Romanian driver inherited the lead in the penultimate stage of the rally in what was a dramatic final day at the gravel event.

Mikko Heikkilä led the rally after Saturday by just 2.3 seconds over Mārtiņš Sesks, with Tempestini in P3 just 6.3 seconds off the lead. Reigning ERC champion, Hayden Paddon, was in P4 after day 1, 12 seconds behind Heikkilä.

Toyota’s of Heikkilä and Sesks 1 and 2 at the beginning of Sunday

An intriguingly close battle awaited for Sunday. It was Heikkilä who started the final day in the best way possible, winning the first two stages, and extending his lead to 10.1 seconds. But then disaster struck Heikkilä as he was forced to retire as he had lost a wheel: “I can’t tell you what happened, we suddenly lost the wheel. First, the rim broke, then we lost all of it so. Nothing special that we hit though, on this kind of road you hit lots of things but I can’t think what we hit that made us lose the wheel,” the Finn said.

With Heikkilä out, a first (international) overall victory for the new Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 was still a possibility with Sesks inheriting the lead with three stages to go. Tempestini was second, a slender 2.1s behind Sesks, with Paddon in P3, 5.7s off the lead.

Sesks extended his lead in SS11 to 6.8s before clipping a rock in SS12. The Latvian driver broke the rear-left suspension of his GR Yaris Rally2 forcing him to retire. A golden opportunity for Tempestini arose as he inherited the lead with 1 stage to go. Paddon moved up to P2 and was 7.7 seconds behind Tempestini.

Mathieu Franceschi was third with one stage to go. The Frenchman led the rally after SS2 but rolled in SS3, dropping 52 seconds. An impressive comeback drive found the 24-year-old in P3, albeit just 1.8s ahead of home hero Miklós Csomós.

Drama in the Power Stage

The drama wasn’t over, however. Hayden Paddon pushed for victory in the final Power Stage and was 3.9 seconds faster than Tempestini on the splits before disaster struck for the New Zealander. He picked up a puncture and lost half a minute. With the margins so small, it meant that Paddon dropped from the podium.

Paddon’s time loss meant Franceschi finished in P2 as he held off Csomós in the Power Stage. Franceschi dominantly won the Power Stage by being a big 11.1 seconds faster than anybody else, claiming his first ERC podium in the process. Csomós finished ahead of Paddon in P3, but it was Tempestini who triumphed in Hungary, his first ERC win.

First ERC Junior victory for McRae

In the ERC Junior, victory went to Max McRae. The 19-year-old son of Alister McRae won with a difference of 1 minute and 40.6 seconds. McRae was the fastest driver with a Rally4 car, claiming the ERC4 win too with a margin of just over 1 minute.

In the ERC3, Filip Kohn claimed the win with the Ford Fiesta Rally3.

ERC Rally Hungary 2024 – Final results

#DriversCarTime / Diff. to 1st
1.Tempestini / ItuSkoda Fabia RS Rally21:52:50.4
2.Franceschi / MalfoySkoda Fabia RS Rally2+17.0
3.Csomós / NagySkoda Fabia Rally2 Evo+29.9
4.Paddon / KennardHyundai i20 N Rally2+44.5
5.Cais / BacigálSkoda Fabia RS Rally2+1:44.0
6.Marczyk / GospodarczykSkoda Fabia RS Rally2+1:59.3
7.Mabellini / LenziSkoda Fabia RS Rally2+2:12.6
8.Armstrong / TreacyFord Fiesta Rally2+2:20.5
9.Wagner / WinterSkoda Fabia RS Rally2+3:49.1
10.Mareš / BuchaToyota GR Yaris Rally2+4:10.9

The ERC championship standings are as follows after the first round of the season:

ERC 2024 Drivers’ Championship – Standings after Round 1/8 [Top 15]

1.Simone Tempestini33
2.Mathieu Franceschi29 (-4)
3.Miklós Csomós25 (-8)
4.Hayden Paddon19 (-14)
5.Erik Cais17 (-16)
6.Miko Marczyk15 (-18)
7.Andrea Mabellini15 (-18)
8.Jon Armstrong12 (-21)
9.Simon Wagner9 (-24)
10.Filip Mareš7 (-26)
11.Vladas Jurkevicius5 (-28)
12.Frigyes Turán4 (-29)
13.Martin László3 (-30)
14.Giacomo Costenaro2 (-31)
15.Kristóf Klausz1 (-32)

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool