Happy memories of our first WRC victory
The 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) returns to tarmac for Rallye Deutschland.
Just three weeks after high-flying Rally Finland, our Team Principal sums up how we are all looking forward to the tough tarmac test of Germany as we continue our strongest ever season: Despite our challenges in Finland, we are ready for the unique test provided by Rallye Deutschland. We have prepared well and we are all looking forward to continuing the momentum of a positive season as we move onto the tarmac events, Michel said.
Of course, Rallye Deutschland is just two hours from our base in Alzenau and is an event that holds many happy memories for us after our first victory here in 2014. It is our home event and also close to home for Thierry, who of course took our first WRC victory here two years ago. We will certainly be pushing hard to return to the podium and securing strong Championship points in front of our home supporters, echoes Michel.
Often viewed as the toughest tarmac event on the calendar, the rally demands commitment and consistency as it covers the widely differing terrain around Trier. The vineyards, the military ranges and the Eifel hills offer contrasting challenges that we have tried to anticipate during our three stage pre-event testing, agrees Michel.
Dani is back!
We are excited that Dani and co-driver Marc will be back after missing Rally Finland. Dani fractured a vertebra while testing for the Finnish event. Fully recovered, the Spanish tarmac experts will be looking to build on their consistent form as the Championship returns to their favourite surface. Dani agrees: We are really pleased to be back in the car at one of our favourite events. Its a very challenging event, very fast and lots of different characteristics.
As winner in 2013 and runner up in our i20 WRC in 2014, Dani knows all about the challenges of Rallye Deutschland: Its exciting to drive in the vineyards, fast but very narrow with lots of hairpins and corners. The military ranges are very tricky, particularly in the wet, so its important not to make mistakes.
Dani summarises the event: We have gone well here in the past and we are looking for a strong result.
Two more winners in the line-up!
Thierry and co-driver Nicolas are also winners here, leading our 1-2 in 2014. On a fine run of form, including a win this year in Sardinia, the Belgian pair will be looking for another strong performance: Germany is the highlight of the season for me. Its my home rally, very close to the Belgian border. A lot of supporters come down with lots of Belgian flags, said Thierry.
Runner up to Dani in 2013, before the roles were reversed the following year, Thierry has many reasons to like the event: Its the rally we are waiting for in the season, and its a rally we have always been competitive at. We got our first victory there so I am looking forward to it.
In our third car, 2016 Rally Argentina winners Hayden and John have different aims. Having secured their maiden victory on the tough South American event and a more recent podium in Poland, the New Zealand pair recognise that tarmac offers a different challenge: Its going to be a bit foreign. It seems like a long time since we were doing a tarmac rally, said Hayden.
More at home on gravel, Hayden embraces the opportunity to improve on the tarmac events of the second half of the season: Its not my preferred surface but its a surface that I have to learn. I get to use it as an opportunity to improve on where we left off from last year.
At the same time Hayden also acknowledges the specific challenges of the event: Germany is a very unique rally in the vineyards, the army range and also some public roads as well. Its sort of three tarmac rallies in one, and were looking forward to the challenge.
Happy to be back in Trier
With the backdrop of the Roman Porta Nigra, the rally offers a unique series of technical challenges. Competitors face the twisty roads of the Mosel wine region and the unforgiving, car-breaking hinkelsteins on the Baumholder ranges.
The rally features 306km of competitive action over 18 stages. Friday sees competitors tackle the vineyards of Mosel as well as the new Ollmuth stage, just south of Trier. Saturday is the longest day of the rally with just under 150km over nine stages including two runs over Panzerplatte Lang at 40.8km. Four stages on Sunday are split between the Mosel vineyards and the Sauertal test in the Eifel hills, which acts as the Power Stage for the second and final run.