47 editions of Rally Košice in a nutshell

May 8, 1971 was not only the Day commemorating the 26th anniversary of the victory over fascism, but also the day of the 1st edition of the VSŽ Košice Rally, which began to write the history of the current Košice rally. It is interesting that at that time the city of Košice was already experiencing rallies, as AMK Stavba Košice organized its "own" Rally Košice. This city is therefore the oldest city in Slovakia, where rallies have been held for over 50 years. A lot of time has passed since then, and with little breaks, its 48th year is upon us.

Few people remember the 60s and 70s of the last century, when motor sports experienced a rapid development in Slovakia and required the establishment of organizations that would unite motoring enthusiasts. This is precisely why Automotoklub VSŽ Košice was founded in 1970 as a successor to the MTO motorcycle tourism section. Among his first events were skill riding at Zlata Idka or a FICC camping and caravanning meeting in Tatranská Lomnica. A year later, he also organized the first edition of the VSŽ Košice Rally. Július Ivan and Ján Mertiňák in Škoda 110 LA became the first ever winners, at that time in only one speed test. Despite several crashes, the competition was successful and nothing prevented its development in the following seasons.

Over the years, the classification and nature of the rally changed. The route was lengthened and the number of special stages also increased. It was driven throughout eastern and partly also in central Slovakia. In 1974, the Rallye VSŽ advanced from the regional competitions to the Slovak Championship, which also attracted new competition crews. Already in 1976, the organizers were looking forward to the first foreign participation, when they welcomed two Polish crews to the start, and the following year five Hungarian crews. However, the victory remained in Slovakia, with the Ivan Pallag - Eugen Jurkovič crew, which achieved a total of three first places and to this day remains at the top of the charts in the number of victories.

Since 1982, the rally has been included in the Czechoslovak Championship, which meant another great success. The elite of Czechoslovak motor sports, including Leo Pavlík, Václav Blahna, Pavel Valoušek and Pavel Sibera, appeared at the start of the following years in beautiful Škoda 130 RS, Audi Quattro, Renault Alpine or Lada 2105 MTX vehicles. In 1987, the number of starting crews exceeded the magical threshold of 100 for the first time.

A four-year hiatus followed from 1990, but it was only a matter of time before the round 20th edition took place. This happened in June 1994 in honor of the celebration of the 35th anniversary of the establishment of Východoslovenské  železiarne. In this year, the victory was won by Jozef Béreš sen. The number of competing crews slowly increased and the organizers set out a bold plan to get their competition into the calendar of the FIA ​​European Championship. This was also helped by the first live broadcast from the city circuit under the Dargovské hrdinov estate on Slovak Television in 1995, as well as the inclusion of the competition in the Hungarian Championship the following season. The plan was fulfilled and in the years 1997-2003 Rallye Košice was included in the FIA ​​European Championship with a coefficient of 2. To this day, the 23rd edition, which took place in 1997 with a measured track length of 237.6 km and 22 special stages, remains recorded in the statistics .

The year 1998 was also very successful, when, in addition to the European championship, the competition was included in the Slovak Championship, the Czech International Championship and the Hungarian Championship. It was also the only year in the entire history of the Košice rally when the competition was included in the Czech championship. Among the 85 competitors at the start were the first four WRC specification vehicles, as well as well-known European drivers such as Enrico Bertone, Lászlo Vizin, János Tóth and Milan Dolák.

In the following years, the organizers had to deal with the resignation of a long-term partner – VSŽ Košice. In the 2001 season, the three-time Polish champion, now unfortunately deceased Janusz Kulig, who was navigated by Emil Horniaček, regularly returned to the Slovak rally track. With the Toyota Corolla WRC, they won not only the 27th edition of the Košice Rally, but also the entire Slovakian Championship. The years 2002 - 2004 clearly belonged to the duo Tibor Cserhalmi - Karol Bodnár, who won the Košice Rally three times in a row. The year 2005, when Rallye Košice was again included in the Hungarian Championship, will remain a memorable year in terms of the number of starting crews. At the start, it brought together 137 competing crews, among which the Slovak ones were not lost either. After all, Jozef Béreš jun. on the Subaru Impreza Sti, he finished in a fantastic third place in the tough competition of ten WRC vehicles! This year, the Pole Grzegorz Grzyb also appeared on Slovak rally tracks. In the following season, he won the Rallye Košice and won his first Slovak Championship title.

In the 2005 season, the organizers started a close cooperation with Tempus s.r.o., which in 2007 and 2008 also became the promoter of the entire Slovak championship and provided a rich accompanying program at individual events.

In order, the 35th year saw several changes, which also affected the name of the event. Tempus Rally Košice was changed to Subaru Stilcar Rally Košice and its center was moved from Rastislavová Street to the premises of KSK on Bačíková Street. The start and finish ramps were moved to Hlavná ulica and the service to the barracks on Moyzesová ulica. For the first time, the crews of the newly created Slovak Rally Cup could also participate in the competition, among which the fastest pair was Róbert Ujpál jun. – Róbert Ujpál dream. The Slovak championship in this competition, as well as in the year-round evaluation, belonged to the crew of Jozef Béreš jun. – Robert Müller.

In 2010, there was a change in the location of the competition directorate, which moved to Hotel Yasmin. The competition was then included in the Polish Championship for the first time. It brought us a large number of crews from abroad, for example the Frenchman Bryan Bouffier, who scored points in the Polish championship that season. It was the Bouffier-Panseri crew that became victorious.

The years 2011 and 2012 also belonged to the Polish Championship, but 2012 also belonged to the Hungarian Championship. Together with the Slovak Rally Cup, 111 crews started the competition, making it the third time in history that the threshold of 100 crews was exceeded. In 2013, the rally was not included in the Polish championship, but only in the Slovak and Hungarian championships, but the Grzegorz Grzyb - Robert Hundla crew remained on the Slovak tracks, winning their second victory at the Košice Rally and their third Slovakian Championship title.

A year later, on the occasion of the round 40th year, a total of 128 competing crews crossed the competition route. The victory went to Hungarian champions Norbert Herczig and Igor Bacigál. This year, R5 specification vehicles were introduced in Slovakia for the first time, namely the Ford Fiesta R5. We waited for the premiere of the Škoda Fabia R5 until the next year in 2015. This year too, the list of starting crews exceeded one hundred. This year will probably be remembered by everyone, because the official results were decided only after the competition. Grzyb and Hundla became the unofficial winners and equally unofficial champions of Slovakia, but only for about a month, when the National Court of Appeal confirmed the decision of RŠK to exclude the Polish crew from the competition. The Melichárek brothers finally became the winners of Rally Košice and the champions of the Slovak Republic that year, breaking Grzyb's three-year championship streak. The following 42nd year was so far the last time we saw Hungarian crews on the Košice, or in this case also on the Rožnav tracks. At the same time, up to 12 R5 specification vehicles were presented on the track, and they were supplemented by 4 WRC vehicles. The fight for the title was exciting, the decision was between Grzyb and Siatkowski and Valousko and Havelkova. In this case, the Czech crew was more successful, winning the first stage and taking the Slovak championship title to the Czech Republic. She did not enter the second stage and the overall winners of Rally Košice in 2016 were Jaroslav Melichárek and Jan Tománek.

In the years 2017-2019, the competition was not included in either the Polish or the Hungarian championship, so we could see mainly Slovak and occasionally Czech and Polish crews on the track, the number of which varied from 40 to 50. The service was moved to STK Pri Prachárni for two years and in 2019 to the Recreation Center Jahodná. All years were won by local driver Martin Koči with co-drivers Filip Schovánk and later with Radovan Mozner Jr.

The 46th Rally Košice was in the preparation stage when it was paralyzed and later defeated by the Covid 19 coronavirus. Several health measures in Slovakia and worldwide caused many competitions to be canceled and even the prepared Rally Košice was not spared, just 2 weeks before its start . In the following year, it was managed to take place under several restrictions, including inclusion in the Polish championship. The competition headquarters and the service parking lot were moved to the new Košice football arena, where several hygiene measures had to be observed. However, even these did not affect the competitive side of the rally, when 83 crews from five European countries started. Poles Mikolaj Marczyk - Szymon Gospodarczyk on Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo became the winners of the last Rally Košice held so far.

For us, it is the 48th Rally Košice, at which once again the titles of the champions of Slovakia and the champions of Poland and the points for the three FIA CEZ series will be decided. The competition will take place on October 21-23, 2022, and we believe that it will maintain the same high level as it has been so far.

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