Niki Mayr-Melnhof’s birthday celebrations were short-lived after gearbox failure put him out of Rally Hungary this morning.
The 2018 Austrian champion was expected to challenge for a strong finish on the FIA European Rally Championship season-closer only for trouble to strike some six kilometres from the finish of the third stage of the event.
“The first stage today was okay, we took it really cautious because of our starting position,” said Mayr-Melnhof, who turns 41 today. “We had a lot of mud on the road in the cuts so we tried to take it easy and we were quite happy with the set-up.
“On the second stage after the refuelling the first part was really good, but 20 kilometres into the stage on a fast, downhill section I started noticing a noise, then all of a sudden the fifth gear exploded, then fourth, then the third gear. We tried to continue but the car was stuck in second gear so we stopped and that was it.”
Mayr-Melnhof is expected to restart on day two of the Nyíregyháza-based event.