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PREVIEW: 2024 FIA World Rallycross Championship – Nyirád, Hungary

The 2024 FIA World Rallycross Championship heads to Hungary for the first time on 27/28 July. The third and fourth rounds of the “Battle of Technologies” will take place at the Nyirád Racing Centre, with the usual suspects competing for glory against a Hungarian home hero.

Nicknamed the “Red Cauldron” due do the distinctive colour of the unsealed surface sections of the track, Nyirád is often referred to as one of the most “old-school” circuits on the calendar. The technical curves and turns combined with dramatic elevation changes present an enticing challenge for drivers and guarantee a great spectacle for the fans.

Johan Kristoffersson led the way in Sweden. Credit: @World / Red Bull Content Pool

The first weekend of world rallycross action in the new “Battle of Technologies” era saw victory head the way of internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. Indeed, six-time world rallycross champion Johan Kristoffersson asserted his dominance early on, throwing down the gauntlet by winning both events in Sweden. However, team principal Tommy Kristoffersson will not be easing off any time soon. “We know what we are good at, and I think the double victory was well-deserved” Kristoffersson Sr explained, before adding “there are still areas for improvement and it will get tougher. We will come to tracks where we cannot dominate, so we must continue to work on our development potential. We should celebrate this success, absolutely, but we must also stay humble.”

Kristoffersson may have been untouchable in the wet, but in the dry conditions on Saturday he was put under pressure by the chasing pack. Meanwhile teammate Ole Christian Veiby struggled with launching his car off the line, denying him the potential to attack at the very top.

Hoping to capitalise on this are the two CE Dealer Team drivers, Niclas Grönholm and Klara Andersson, who are tied on points in second in the championship. Both could have taken at least one victory in Sweden, with Grönholm showing excellent pace in his electric PWR RX1e before events out of his control snatched those chances away from him. Andersson came within a whisker of taking victory from Kristoffersson on the first day of action, and will be hoping to go one better than second in Hungary.

Mykolas Paulavicius punches ticket to Dakar 2025

Mykolas Paulavičius‘ effort to make the Dakar Rally is one step closer to completion. On Wednesday, he confirmed he has received his acceptance letter from the Amaury Sport Organisation to take part in the 2025 race.

While 2025 will be his first time competing at Dakar, he previously ran the 2022 edition as a crew member for the SSV of fellow Lithuanian Tomas Jančys who finished sixteenth in class. The experience inspired Paulavičius to set racing it on a bike as his next goal, already well established on two wheels as a three-time Lithuanian Enduro Champion who has competed in events like the Red Bull Erzbergrodeo and Red Bull Romaniacs.

Paulavičius made his rally raid début at the 2022 Fenix Rally in Tunisia, where he finished sixth. The following year, he entered the World Rally-Raid Championship‘s Rallye du Maroc and finished forty-third in Rally2 (twenty-third among Road to Dakar registrants) with a best stage run of thirty-fourth on the opening leg; he fell twice during the second stage and unknowingly ran the full distance with COVID-19, which a team member also tested positive for though neither realised until after their return to Lithuania.

He effectivel yclinched his Dakar ticket with a sixteenth in class at the W2RC’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in February and March. Riding for DUUST Rally Team, he notched three top-twenty stage finishes including a fifteenth on the final day despite a malfunctioning gearbox.

In early July, shortly before the ASO began accepting Dakar riders, Paulavičius was the co-driver for Ignas Udra at the Rallye Breslau in Poland. The duo finished twelfth in SSV.

Andrew Houlihan returning to Dakar in 2025 in Malle Moto

Andrew Houlihan is set to make his return to the Dakar Rally in 2025 after three years away from the race. He received his acceptance letter from the Amaury Sport Organisation last week.

Houlihan intends to compete in the Original by Motul class, a subcategory of Rally2 for riders without assistance from teams.

He made his Dakar début in 2021, where he finished fiftieth overall. He returned in 2022 following a tumultuous year in which many of his scheduled races and even his trip to Saudi Arabia for the race were impacted by COVID-19; however, his second attempt ended halfway.

Despite hopes to run the Dakar for five straight years, Houlihan did not take part in the 2023 edition. Nevertheless, he remained involved by competing in the FIM Bajas World Cup where he finished sixth in points and runner-up for the Veterans Trophy; he had led the latter, reserved for riders over the age of 45, before a ruptured quadricep tendon sidelined him for the final two races which allowed Pedro Bianchi Prata to leapfrog him for the title.

He began the 2024 season by finishing ninth at the Saudi Baja; Houlihan elected to enter the race at the last minute after being cleared by doctors. This was followed by a seventeenth at the Baja TT Dehesa Extremadura.

Gediminas Satkus locked in for Dakar Rally debut in 2025

The AG Dakar School in Lithuania has produced another Dakar Rally-bound graduate. On Wednesday, Gediminas Satkus confirmed he has been accepted for the 2025 edition, marking his first foray into the legendary race.

Satkus qualified with a nineteenth in Rally2 at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in March, where he overcame a battery failure at the midway point to notch a best run of sixteenth in Stage #4. It was his second time running the ADDC after an eighteenth in class in the 2023 edition.

Between ADDCs, he entered the fellow World Rally-Raid Championship round Rallye du Maroc but retired after crashing in Stage #3. 2023 also saw him compete in the Rallye Breslau in Poland, where fell off his bike early on yet managed to reach the finish.

Outside of rally raid, Satkus competes in enduro including the Red Bull Romaniacs in 2022 He also works as a managing director for mineral supplier Minterra FZE in the United Arab Emirates.

AG Dakar School is run by Arūnas Gelažninkas, a two-time winner of the Dakar’s Original by Motul (Malle Moto) subcategory. At the 2024 Dakar in January, he was the co-driver for his wife Emilija Gelažninkienė in the SSV category. The school also prepared a bike for Modestas Siliunas in the race, but his maiden Dakar ended after eight legs.

Palestine’s Hussein Sheiokhi scores Jordan 4×4 podium, making “every effort to show up”

Although he and his Palestinian compatriots did not repeat the domination of the season opener in February, Hussein Sheiokhi was still more than happy to secure a third-place overall finish in the second round of the Jordan 4×4 Championship. The race was held Friday at Wasfi Al-Tal Forest in Amman.

He and co-driver Mohammed Baghdadi piloted a Jeep Wrangler, finishing third outright and in the Pro category behind Thabet and Mohammed Mheirat and Raad Azmaf and Islam Al-Dawaimeh. The Mheirats and Azmaf/Al-Dawaimeh raced Toyota Hiluxes, making Sheiokhi the best performing non-Hilux and one of two non-Toyotas to score a podium that day alongside the Jeep Grand Cherokee of Amateur class winner Khaled Sowan.

The twenty-eight teams were naturally heavily Jordanian, with Sheiokhi and Baghdadi representing Palestine alongside the Kia Sorento of Amjad and Imad Hanneh, Mohammed Hananah and Mohammed Abu Al-Asal (Toyota Land Cruiser), and Yousef and Samer Qaraira (Jeep Wrangler). Kuwait also had a team courtesy of Suleiman Al-Khudairi and Rakan Hammad.

Palestinians swept the top four at the championship’s first race in February when Emad Khabeis led Hazem Foudeh, Wisam Khalileh, and Hananah. Sheyoukhi finished eighth in that race.

“Alhamdulillah (‘Praise be to God’), we got third place in the race in the second round of the 4×4 Challenge,” said Sheiokhi. “It was more than a wonderful race.

Wyatt Miller making short course debut at Dirt City

Wyatt Miller will try a slightly different form of dirt racing from what he’s used to this weekend when he makes his short course off-road début at the Dirt City Off-Road National at Dirt City Motorplex. He will drive the #73 for Ryan Beat Motorsports in the Pro SPEC class.

Miller is a fourth-generation racer from the legendary Earnhardt family, the son of L.W. Miller and Kelley Earnhardt Miller and the nephew of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Despite only being twelve years old, he has already established himself as a rising star in dirt track racing as a two-time champion at Millbridge Speedway. He mainly competes in micro sprint cars as well as in Legends cars and outlaw karts.

In December, Miller won the Restricted Micro A-Class feature at the Tulsa Shootout, capping off a year that saw him win twenty times across seven stages. His car is prepared by Chad Boat, a former NASCAR driver and dirt racer, and under the family-run JR Motorsports banner.

R/BM currently fields a Pro 2 truck for owner Ryan Beat, Pro Lite trucks for Carson Brown and Carson Parrish, and a Pro SPEC for Christopher Parrish. The team won the 2022 Pro SPEC title with Gray Leadbetter, while Christopher Parrish—who also competes in the Ligier JS F4 Series—currently sits fourth in Pro SPEC points with three wins.

Dirt City is the fifth round of the 2024 Championship Off-Round season.

Garamvolgyi: “Competition area is mostly military territory, so anyone who breaks the rules is risking the future of Hungarian Baja”

With the Hungarian Baja set to celebrate its twenty-first year in August, race organiser Zoltán Garamvölgyi wants to make something more “varied and special”. Much of the race takes place in the town of Várpalota, particularly at the Hungarian Defence Forces Bakony Combat Training Centre.

Located right by the Bakony mountain range, Bakony CTC is used by the HDF and Hungary’s NATO allies who frequently partake in joint exercises that include armoured warfare and paratrooper operations. It boasts the largest military shooting range and training area in Central Europe, spanning 251 square kilometres across three fields dubbed “A”, “B”, and “C”. “A” field, which is 87 km2 in size, is typically used for non-live fire exercises while “B” (100 km2) and “C” (64 km2) are both for battalion- and company-level practices and artillery impact areas. These elements mean competitors race across hard and rocky, yet technical, terrain that is burnt out from artillery strikes and past destroyed vehicles like tanks.

Garamvölgyi hopes to put those 251 km2 to good use. The 2024 route spans 550 kilometres, 410 of which are timed Selective Sections with 250 km on the first stage and 160 km the next. The bulk of it consists of a loop that was last used in 2009. Thury Castle in Várpalota serves as the rally’s main hub.

“We want to recapture areas that were part of the programme in the early days. The shooting range is one such area that we can join hands to use—a huge thank you to the Ministry of Defence,” Garamvölgyi stated. “We can provide a special route for the riders, but we still can’t compete with the Portuguese and Spanish organisers in terms of lines, but perhaps that’s not our aim. We have been doing it to the best of our ability for more than two decades, and we can be justifiably proud of that, and we will continue to do so.

“It is still very important to draw attention to the fact that the public and the press may only enter the areas and points designated by us, in compliance with the security rules. The competition area is mostly military territory, so anyone who breaks the rules is risking the future of the Hungarian Baja. Breaking the rules can have very serious consequences either for the competition or for those who are caught, whether by the police, the military, or our security people.”

Searles brothers shift focus to 2026 Dakar Rally, need to “get one more rally done”

Carl Searles and his brother Craig Searles will have to wait another year before racing the Dakar Rally together. On Saturday, they were informed by the Amaury Sport Organisation that their applications for the 2025 race were rejected due to insufficient desert rally experience. Told they needed just one more start before the organisers were willing to greenlight them, they will now focus on the 2026 rally.

“Unfortunately, they’ve not given us an entry for this year, but the phone call was really positive,” began Craig Searles. “They were happy with our story, happy with our result in the Rally de Maroc. They said our pace was good, so they congratulated us on that one. Unfortunately, we haven’t got in this time, but they said if we could get one more rally done, then our entry is pretty much there for 2026.”

The brothers made their World Rally-Raid Championship débuts at the Rallye du Maroc last October with the goal of qualifying for the 2025 Dakar. Carl finished fifty-third overall in Rally2 while Craig was fifty-eighth, and they were respectively twenty-ninth and thirty-third among Road to Dakar entrants. The Road to Dakar grants free registration to the best performing rider with no prior Dakar experience.

Carl’s race began when the thumb toggle switch for his roadbook malfunctioned sixty kilometres before the end of the opening stage (an issue that prompted an ASO comment to reassure riders that the system was functional) while Craig crashed, forcing them to work until 2 AM the next morning to repair their bikes. The two rode together at first before eventually focusing on their own races for the second half onwards, which paid off for Carl when he scored a best stage finish of fortieth in Stage #3. Craig’s Sentinel alarm button glitched during Stage #4, but he managed to notch his highest placement of fifty-seventh.

Morocco marked their first rally raid. The two are primarily motocross riders and instructors at the BMW Off Road Skills school in Wales, while also working at the family-run Liquitech Ltd water treatment company.

Ricciardo Fumes After Strategy Call Costs Him Points in Hungary

Daniel Ricciardo was left frustrated after the 2024 Hungarian Grand Prix, and called Visa Cash App RB after a strategy call that lost him a chance of fighting in the points.

Ricciardo has been in excellent form all weekend in Budapest, showing pace in practice before reaching Q3 and out-qualifying his teammate to start ninth on the grid. The Australian needs to do well before the summer break, with rumours about his future with RB as well a chance of potentially even returning to Oracle Red Bull Racing in place of Sergio Pérez, who had another messy weekend.

When asked after the race by F1TV what he thought of the strategy calls, Ricciardo didn’t hold back on what he made of the decisions: “You know this isn’t the thing to do but you get the call late and there’s no time to question it because if you miss a lap it’s even worse. 

“As soon as I pulled on, the cars on softs had boxed, we’re on the medium, let’s go and use the clear air we’ve got but then we come out in traffic, in a drs train and all on the same tyre.

“It was one of the worst ones I’ve had in 250 something races. It was a long old frustrating race, where I had a lot of anger.”

Piastri Delighted After Claiming Maiden Win in Hungary

Oscar Piastri was delighted to secure his first Formula 1 victory, leading a McLaren F1 Team 1-2 at the 2024 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Piastri was impressive throughout the 70-lap race, taking the lead from his teammate, Lando Norris, on the first lap of the race. The Australian then controlled the race from that point onwards, before some drama at the end that saw team orders come into place between himself and Norris.

McLaren had pitted Norris earlier than Piastri on the second round of pitstops meaning the Brit was ahead of him after the undercut. Norris’ race engineer, Will Joseph made it very clear that they needed to swap positions and after some back-and-forth between the pair, Norris finally followed the team orders to let Piastri through for his first win.

“This is really the day I dreamed of as a kid, standing on the top step of an F1 podium.

“Obviously a bit complicated at the end but I put myself in the right position at the start, and thank you to the team for an amazing effort, and amazing car.

Matthieu Jauffraud aiming for 2026 Dakar Rally after injury, rejection

Just like last year, Matthieu Jauffraud did not receive the news he hoped from the Amaury Sport Organisation when they informed him his 2025 Dakar Rally application has been turned down. Naturally, this means his attention will now be on the 2026 race.

Unlike his 2024 rejection which was due to insufficient desert rally experience, this instance was mainly due to bad circumstance. While competing in the 2023 Rallye du Maroc to build up his portfolio, Jauffraud launched off a dune too far ninety-six kilometres into Stage #2 and the landing caused him to rupture his Achilles and fracture a tibia.

The injury prevented him from riding for eight months and threw a wrench into his 2024 plans. He had hoped to run the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in February, which along with the Rallye du Maroc is part of the World Rally-Raid Championship and the Road to Dakar; the latter awards free Dakar Rally registration to the best rider who has never raced it before. Instead, he only got back on his bike in May and his gamble to sign up for Dakar shortly after failed.

With the 2025 Dakar out of reach, he will restart his programme by entering the 2024 Rallye du Maroc on 6–11 October as well as the 2025 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge on 21–27 February. Although rejected, he theoretically can still qualify for the 2025 Dakar Rally if he wins the Road to Dakar in Morocco or at least performs well enough to change the ASO’s minds.

“Due to my severe injury at the 2023 Rallye due Maroc, and despite working tirelessly for eight months to get back on the bike, my application to participate in the 2025 Dakar Rally was not accepted,” wrote Jauffraud on Saturday. “Thus, I am revising my schedule to include the 2024 Rally du Maroc in October and the 2025 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in February to resubmit my application next year. I will have to wait until 2026 to start this legendary race, the Dakar Rally.”

Francisco Lopez Contardo targeting 2025 Dakar Rally run in Maverick R

Once the FIA finishes homologation of the new Can-Am Maverick R for the 2025 Dakar Rally, Francisco López Contardo wants his to be the first in line for the ferry to Saudi Arabia. López, a three-time Dakar winner, acquired a Maverick R in early July that he hopes to enter in the upcoming edition.

Despite being out for less than a year, the Maverick R has impressed so far in competition. It won in its American desert racing début just a month after reveal before customers outside North American began to employ it in non-FIA cross-country rallies with success. A Maverick R built by World Rally-Raid Championship outfit South Racing dominated the Morocco Desert Challenge in April while two Maverick Rs recently contested the Silk Way Rally in Russia (a marathon rally like the Dakar), though all three were hit by vehicle problems. Alexey Shmottev, one of the Maverick R drivers at the Silk Way, praised the suspension system and gearbox for their durability and performance under the prolonged stress that a marathon rally provides.

In June, Jeremías González Ferioli won the W2RC’s Desafío Ruta 40 in the Open Cars class while driving a Maverick R. This marked the first time it ran an FIA-sanctioned rally raid, though it was relegated to the Open category as it has yet to be approved for SSV. Once greenlit by the FIA, the Maverick R in its base form would compete in the SSV class while upgraded models would be allowed in the purpose-built Challenger division.

López won the Dakar Rally in 2019 and 2021 in the SSV class, then added a third crown in 2022 in T3 (now Challenger). All three victories came in the Can-Am Maverick XRS, which is currently used in both Challenger and SSV, with the 2022 triumph culminating in him winning the W2RC. He finished fifth in class at the 2024 edition in January with a stage win, his only W2RC start of the year so far.

The Chilean has been experimenting with other forms of rally throughout 2024, having scaled back his competition after his title-winning campaign to focus on fatherhood. In June, he returned to racing a bike for the first time since 2014 when he and Jeremías Israel finished second in class at the Desafío del Desierto.

2024 Hungarian Grand Prix: Norris On Pole After Wet-to-Dry Dramatic Session

Lando Norris took pole position for the 2024 Hungarian Grand Prix after a dramatic qualifying that saw wet-to-dry conditions, smashes into the barriers and a few shocks along the way. 

Oscar Piastri will start alongside his teammate, giving McLaren F1 Team their third front row lockout in Hungary, just ahead of Max Verstappen, who was less than half a tenth behind Norris at the end of Q3.

Here’s a recap of the session:

Q1: Ricciardo tops dramatic session as Pérez once again crashes out

After three dry practice sessions on Friday and Saturday, the drivers went into qualifying with rain dampening the circuit. The intermediate tyres weren’t needed when the green light showed for the start of Q1, with the conditions easing off. 

The first runs saw Lewis Hamilton go top of the times, hoping to secure his 10th Hungarian Grand Prix pole position. Yellow flags did come out due to a crash by Logan Sargeant although the American managed to get his car out of the wall. He had a good Q1 for Williams Racing with his first run good enough for fifth.

Fesh Fesh to field FF7 at 2025 Dakar Rally

Fesh Fesh will field a brand new Tatra truck for Tomáš Vrátný at the 2025 Dakar Rally. Dubbed the FF7, it was revealed at Colours of Ostrava over the weekend and will begin racing in Poland during the summer before appearing at the Rallye du Maroc in October.

Vrátný finished ninth in the Truck category at his most recent Dakar in 2023, where he raced a Tatra Jamal Evo I. It was his seventh start and just his second since 2022 after a five-year absence, with his career best being a fourteenth in 2015. He did not run the 2024 rally, though Fesh Fesh took part with a Tatra for Vaidotas Paškevičius (retired) and a Ford Cargo for Albert Llovera (seventeenth).

“We are preparing a new racing truck for the next Dakar Rally,” began Vrátný. “It is an completely new generation of racing technology. Many thanks to the guys from the Fesh Fesh team for completing it in time for this significant event. We chose to premiere it at Colours as we are an Ostrava-based team, and this festival is one of the most significant events in the city and entire region.

“After the festival, we will continue with intensive preparations. We need to test the truck, prepare software for the engine and transmission, adjust the suspension correctly, and much more. In August, we have races in Poland, in October we will go to Morocco, and on 3 January 2025, we will start the famous Dakar Rally, which will be held again in Saudi Arabia next year.”

Czech President Petr Pavel attended the festival and christened the truck by spraying champagne on it. The team also unveiled the Husqvarna 450 Rally that stunt rider Adam Peschel will race in his Dakar début.

Alexey Shmottev on Maverick R’s marathon rally raid debut: “The best part is operating the gearbox”

With the next Dakar Rally not being until January, the Can-Am Maverick R‘s maiden marathon rally raid ended up being the Silk Way Rally from Russia to Mongolia. SNAG Racing fielded a pair of the new side-by-side vehicle for owner Sergei Kariakin and Alexey Shmottev, though neither ultimately had much luck in its first time out.

Although both raced the Maverick R, only Kariakin competed in the T3 category while Shmottev was relegated to the Open class for vehicles that did not meet the traditional T3 regulations. T3, also known as Challenger, is generally used to describe purpose-built racing SSVs; while their Maverick Rs were still mostly stock, the Silk Way does not have a production SSV class (also known as T4). The Russian Rally-Raid Championship, which oversees the SWR, mandates fifteen-inch wheels (most Maverick R wheels are 16″) and the Smart-Shox active suspension be disabled.

Kariakin, the defending T3 winner, struggled with electrical problems before included his engine compartment caught fire at the end of Stage #7. He managed to end the race on a strong note by winning his class in three of the last four legs, but was well out of overall contention as he finished off the T3 podium in fourth.

While he had a disappointing result, Kariakin at least reached the finish. Shmottev’s race ended in Stage #3 when he lost control through a sharp left turn and crashed into a tree. It was his second SWR after finishing third in T3 in 2019.

Even with the poor showing in the classification, both drivers were still receptive to the Maverick R.