After finishing 10 on the 2011SWR, despite fuel problems, Balazs Szalay is back this year to take on the Russian tracks with his Opel Antara and with the same ambition: prove that a Gentleman Driver can finish in the Top 5!
“I have a fantastic souvenir of the start in Red Square. It is one of the most memorable moments of my life and I will have the chance to do it again!,” – says Balazs Szalay. “I am really impatient to go, even more so now because the route has more sand than last year; but it still has this amazing variety of terrain on each stage…It is really different than what we are accustomed to and I love it because you have to know how to continually adapt. But I also cannot wait to return to the SWR atmosphere with the fantastic hospitality from the local gentry and from a sporting point of view I will be looking for revenge.”
“I know everyone refers to the SWR as a preparation rally for the Dakar, but you mustn’t forget that is a real and very difficult race and my primary objective is to do well!” – continues the emblematic Hungarian driver. “Last year, we were in 6th place at mid-distance, before our engine overheated due to fuel that was too rich in octane. A small error from my team that forced us to drop out…But this has actually boosted our confidence for this year, even more so now that we are part of a larger team with three race cars, a T4 and two service trucks. I believe we have all we need to meet our objective of a Top 5 result…”
“But in any case, no matter where we finish, for sure, the SWR is one of the most important rally-raids of the year”, concludes Balazs Szalay. “First off, because it has in just a few years attained the stature of a mid-season must do race, but also and more importantly because it is the closest rally-raid to our country. So, for all of us, it is the best possible choice in terms of a price to media return ratio. The press coverage of the SWR is very significant in Eastern Europe and for our sponsors it is a very good communication vehicle. This also explains why there is a large presence of ‘regional’ participants in the field.”