Mads Østberg completed the FIA European Rally Championship’s 70th-anniversary season in style by winning the fourth edition of Rally Hungary today (Sunday).
Meanwhile, the three-way battle for FIA Junior ERC Championship title glory ended in Norbert Maior’s favour, the Romanian securing a fully-funded ride in the 2024 FIA Junior WRC Championship as his reward.
By winning the opening Óhuta-Fony test, Csomós was able to extend his overnight lead to 23.5sec, only for a damaged front-right tyre on the following Sárga Borház stage causing a spin, meaning he was 21.3sec slower than stage pacesetter Sesks.
It then went from bad to worse for Csomós on the next stage when he went off at high speed one kilometre into SS11.
Although Csomós and co-driver Viktor Bán were uninjured, their stunning run was at an end just as a sensational maiden ERC victory seemed a formality.
With Csomós out, Østberg was left with a lead of 8.9sec over Hungarian champion Ferenc Vincze to preserve through the Power Stage, which he won to secure five bonus points and win his second Rally Hungary by 12.8sec.
“It’s really amazing to be honest,” said the 35-year-old Norwegian. “It’s been a really hard season so to end the season like this is really good. We’ve enjoyed the rally so much, the car has worked well and even with the rough conditions we found here we didn’t have a lot of issues so it’s been an incredible weekend and I’m so, so happy for our rally.
“But we are happy with our race, it was a good performance and I’m very happy to end the season like this.”
Østberg follows Hayden Paddon, Yoann Bonato, Mārtiṇš Sesks, Oliver Solberg, Andrea Crugnola and Jan Kopecký as an ERC event winner in 2023. His success in Hungary secures third in the provisional championship standings behind Mārtiṇš Sesks and 2023 title winner Hayden Paddon.
After Østberg won SS11 with a margin of 1.3sec ahead of Vincze, his fastest time on SS12 marked his second Power Stage win of the season.
Gábor Német was seventh on his first start in the ERC in a Rally2 car. Martin László took eighth despite completing SS10 with a damaged front-right tyre, while Mathieu Franceschi and Efrén Llarena recovered from early delays to finish ninth and 10th respectively. András Hadik was in eighth before he was forced to change a wheel on SS10.
Norbert Michelisz, the winner of the 2019 FIA World Touring Car Cup, impressed on his rallying debut in 13th position driving a Hyundai i20 N Rally2.