Hungarian Baja 2023 - Danner Racing Team

The Hungarian Baja - with a great mix of fast gravel roads, dirt roads, forest passages and jumps has been a fixed part of the cross country scene for years!
This year again the field is top notch – starting with the fast overdrive Toyota – both in the “old” T1 class as well as the new T1+ with bigger wheels and more suspension travel, X-Raid Minis as well as an “old” BMW X3 CC, the sharp V8 Ford from Zapletal and 2 Czechs – and of course the only vehicle homologated in Austria in the T1 (Dakar) class!

Our preparations for this double anniversary event started at Christmas – with the almost complete disassembly of the car in order to anticipate any eventualities – so the plan is!
Furthermore, with new regulations, the FIA had further ensured that it did not become boring – and certainly not cheaper:
- All suits are expired --> 2x new
- Steering wheel must be removable --> new snap-off hub & attachments
- Seats have expired --> 2x new
This year the event is more streamlined – the acceptance starts Thursday morning then the show starts Thursday evening. On Friday morning we start with the prologue, based on the results of the starting numbers among the top 10 being raffled . . .
The administrative and technical approval go smoothly over the stage – especially with the latter, we had expected a few more detailed views and questions – after all, the base of our car is already a bit older and the FIA “not exactly preferred” by private owners . . . .
As a special goodie for the 20th anniversary of the Hungarian Baja, there is a T-shirt for every participant with ALL the drivers and co-drivers that have ever competed – including Niko Huber and Wick Zach as well as our service technician Pal, who used to be a co-driver – really strong!
After the briefing in the castle there will be a great spectacle for the many spectators at the main square of Varpalota – among others the Hungarian stunt world champion shows his skills – really spectacular!
Friday starts with the prologue, which decides the starting order. The 10 best-placed drivers draw lots for each other . . . - we are eleventh :)
Afterwards, 2 long stages are planned, but with the delays from the previous program points will go into the night – which is rather unusual, as it is dangerous . . .
However, this year's rally is only supposed to last until Saturday evening, podium crossing and award ceremony are planned immediately afterwards, around 20:00! No rain is forecast for the whole weekend – except for the puddles and water splashes of the past weeks, it will become dry and dusty; temperatures are more humane than in previous years.
We start at about 15:00 in the first stage, the chassis, which I softened by 2 clicks after the shakedown in the pressure stage, feels good (almost €2500. - in the revision of the Öhlins shock absorbers . . . ), the tyre pressure also feels right.
The organizer has once again adapted the route – even if the area is basically the same – to a large extent in military training areas, which certainly makes the permits easier! The routes are definitely more varied compared to Baja Italia!
The engine and transmission work perfectly again this year – this is really fun – despite the limiting rigid axles and the high centre of gravity . . .
Unfortunately, in the middle of the stage, we are hit by fate on a short double jump – after heavy take-off / landing, the front axle makes some ugly noises – soon it is clear that they are coming out of the differential – most likely “tooth loss” on the crown wheel.
Minutes later people from the Orga with 2 cars are here – which, however, only speak Hungarian. . – they show us the shortest way to the next asphalt road, where our “service” Pal can reach us to help.
While we wait, we consider whether there are alternatives to retiring the car . . .
Years ago we also had problems with the front differential / wheelset, back then with the V6 – it had deactivated the front wheel drive – and thus the rear axle overheated --> so NO alternative . . .
So we pack everything together, go to dinner and plan to drive to some “hotspots” of the rally on Saturday to at least be passive . . .
In the early afternoon we drive home for good . . . . next time`s probably going to work . . .
With sporty greetings
Photos: Danner Racing, motorsand4x4, Norbert Csatlos, Peter Pataky
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