What’s the best thing you ever achieved with your sibling?
Going a full week without falling out? That’s a massive milestone for some!
But Norbert and Francesca Maior have probably trumped you. They didn’t just manage to keep the peace last weekend – there was also the small matter of winning the Junior European Rally Championship together.
And they did it in style, prospering in an intense winner-takes-all shootout against Roberto Daprà and Ola Nore.
To say the odds were stacked against them would be hyperbolic, but heading into the Rally Hungary weekend Nore had two wins and Daprà had one. Maior meanwhile was yet to get off the mark.
But the one card he held over the rest was consistency: just once out of the previous five events had Maior and his younger sister failed to stand on the podium.
And hailing from the bordering country of Romania – with previous experience of Hungarian rallies to boot – the Peugeot 208 Rally4 pair must have quietly fancied their chances.
However almost as early as the rally had begun, the three-way fight became just a two-way, as Nore – learning an Opel Corsa for the first time – lost over three minutes with a puncture change on Saturday’s first stage, leaving Maior and Daprà to dispute the lead and ultimately the title.
Daprà wasn’t immune to the drama either though, as smoke billowed from under the hood of his Peugeot at the end of the following test.
All of this presented Maior with an opportunity, and he pounced magnificently – launching himself into a lead that he would never surrender.
It was close though – the 25-year-old’s advantage never stretching over 16.1 seconds all-weekend long.
Heart rates were raised in the Maior camp when the first powerstage split emerged and he was 4.5s down on Daprà with just 13.9s in hand, but Maior was just eliminating risks and making sure he got the job done.
The huddle of supporters, armed with champagne bottles which were spraying before Norbert and Francesca even emerged from the car, told the story. As did the warm embrace from brother and sister as the moment began to hit them.
“I don’t have words for this, it’s amazing!” Norbert said.
“Look here, a lot of friends… it’s unbelievable for sure. It was a difficult year, we tried everything to be in the ERC every round, but we did it. We are so happy.
“We have a lot of people that deserve this win. OK me and Francesca we are in the car but the other people are next to us and they helped a lot. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Daprà had the consolation of taking the ERC4 title, but arriving to the finish-line first his sportsmanship was stunning.
“It’s OK for us because we made an incredible race. We were fighting to the finish-line for only 13 seconds,” the Italian said.
“I don’t know the time of Maior but if he doesn’t have problems he wins, and I’m so happy for him as he is a very honest and fair person and he deserves this victory.”
“Seeing how their pace has increased over last season, plus their consistency, has been a delight,” Campbell told DirtFish. “For them to get their first win on the round where they needed a maximum score was impressive.
“Perhaps more impressive was their determination to be here. Crowdfunding when budget fell short, pursuing a replacement car from Romania on the Thursday of Zlín, when they crashed the original car on the Wednesday test.
“This shows just what winning Junior ERC is worth to them.”