January 05, 2014
A bravery test could describe the fifth stage of the Africa Race between As Sakn and Dakhla. The speed was high (average 130km/h) but the course as usual, held some traps to slow down the unwary. The traps were successfully avoided by Szalay Balázs and László Bunkoczi as they powered to second position.
Ingenuity from the co-pilot, allowed the Hungarian pair driving their Opel Mokka to overtake yesterday’s winner, Michel Turon Barrere, leading the field for a while. Turon Barrere’s buggy lost its way and for a couple of hundred meters Szalay’s was driving in their dust before László noticed that they were heading in the wrong direction, allowing the Opel dakar team to gain a valuable advantage.
“It was a fast, gravelly stage I would even say that it was enjoyable, but at some points it was really sneaky. We drove eight kilometers with full gas, than suddenly we had to slow down almost stop because there were two great holes ahead of us that if we fell into it we would definitely roll over. Five more kilometers and a trap again so we had to be really cautious” explained Szalay, who got lost a couple hundred meters before the finish allowing two time Dakar winner, Jean-Louis Schlesser to overtake him in the last section of the stage.
They arrived to the finish with the Opel Mokka driving in the dust of the blue Buggy of Schlesser. This is more than inspiring for the team and Szalay was smiling widely at the finish.
“Now I am very happy, so now I do not feel what I usually do at this time of the race, I don’t wait the rest day. I would start immediately the next stage, but I know that the guys need the rest and the Mokka needs to be scrutinized, even if it was doing well so far”announced Szalay who is known to have a bet with the old man and five time winner of the race, Jean-Louis Schlesser. The stake of the bet is a secret, but they are still competing who will finish ahead of who on how many stages.
Well, before the rest days the statistics show that Schlesser is leading to 3:2. The side action is not yet finished, the hardest part of the race is coming up in Mauritania.