Day 1: Budapest- Baia Mare

After a quick scrutiny/check-in process in Budapest and some flattering attention from the locals (Hungarian cowgirls? who would have thought) , we are off to the first day of racing.  A pleasant liaison drive from Budapest to the first special, the crowd is cheering. So far so good. 

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But then we get to the special and everything starts happening way too fast: we rush to the starting line to make our designated start time, not really comfortable yet with our seats, helmets, gloves, and harnesses, and before we know it the official at the start line counts with the fingers of one hand: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and go!  I’m driving the first day and Nadav is the navigator; really rough terrain, very tight corners, very bumpy; super narrow tracks, trees and bushes on both sides; mud, murky windshield, washer doesn’t work well; we never drove in a course like this before, much different than the Moroccan sand dunes; not sure that I have complete control of the car and want to go slower, especially after seeing a car overturned on its side and the driver laying on the ground, trying not to move and obviously in serious pain; see a video of the first stage to get a sense for the track:

But then a very loud buzzer goes off in our cabin and we are being overtaken time and time again by faster drivers; concerned that pretty soon the gigantic trucks will show up and will force us off the track we pick up speed, intense concentration, and somehow in a blur finish the 60km of the first special…

Wow… both of us sweat bullets and breath hard; huge relief, we survived the first special, and even moved up the ranking from 81st to 52nd place!!! It feels so good we don’t even notice that we broke the front differential shaft and probably didn’t have front wheel drive for most of the special…  

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Now the awesome team of Rally Raid UK mechanics jumps into action and in no time the car  is serviceable again.  We are off to a 400+ km liaison to Baia Mare, Romania.

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