European rally weekend: Wins for Botka, Baumschlager
While the world class rally drivers are preparing for the next WRC round on the following weekend in Catalunya, numerous rally events across Europe took part this weekend.
The most important was the 44th Croatia Rally, an event which is hoping to enter the World Rally Championship calendar for 2019. The biggest Croatian rally event has been already on a candidate list for the 2018 WRC season but Rally Turkey took the free slot, so the organizers in Croatia are hoping for the next chance in 2019.
The Croatia Rally counts for the FIA European Rally Trophy, which is made up of a total of eight regional competitions which follow the same technical and sporting regulations as the European Rally Championship. The Croatia Rally is a part of the Central Rally Trophy together with five other events in Slovenia, Czech Republic, Austria and Germany.
The winner of the Croatian event, which featured 155 kilometers of special stages on five locations around Istria region, is the Hungarian rally ace and the regular competitor in the European Rally Championship, David Botka. He contested in the #10 Škoda Fabia R5 along his navigator Mark Mesterhazi.
The Hungarians also took the second place, with Andras Hadik and Krisztian Kertesz in the #5 Ford Fiesta R5. The Slovenian crew Rok Turk/Blanka Kacin finished third in the #6 Peugeot 208 T16. Sixty-four crews were on the start, forty-five of them reached the finish.
One more great rally event this weekend was the Škoda Rallye Liezen in Austria. The Austrian rally veteran Raimund Baumschlager took the victory in the ex-factory Volkswagen Polo R WRC. Baumschlager started to run the WRC-winning car five months ago and this is his first win after that switch.
Baumschlager and his navigator Pirmin Winklhofer won the rally ahead of Andreas Aigner/Ilka Minor-Petrasko (Škoda Fabia R5) and Giandomenico Basso/Lorenzo Granai (Hyundai i20 R5).