Very good marks for the Interwetten Racing Team after its first learning year in the Intercontinental Rallye Challenge

Franz Wittmann thereby emerges as an above-average pupil who is qualified for higher tasks in the future

Currently one tries to sustain this upward trend and to set the stage for a further advancement

An interesting project by the Interwetten Racing Team had been presented to the public a little more than one year ago in Vienna. It dealt with the participation of Franz Wittmann/ Bernhard Ettel, in a Mitsubishi Evo IX by Stohl Racing, at eight runs of the Intercontinental Rallye Challenge (IRC).

The objective was to get accustomed to this international series, to get to know the stages and to reach one or more top ten results as best non-S2000- car despite the enginewise better equipped competition. A challenge that Interwetten driver Franz Wittmann mastered brilliantly.

"To me it was a really great year. I was able to learn a lot and I hope to realise the experience thus won in the future. Due to the car's conceptual design I obviously stood better chances on gravel than on tarmac, where the lighter weight and the surplus of horse power of my competitors' cars played a decisive role. I am nevertheless highly satisfied. And I would like to heartily thank Interwetten, the Bezirksjournal, Stohl Racing and my co-driver Bernhard for their commitment and performance. Now I can only hope that we will manage to put together a package for next season that will enable us to take advantage of my gathered experience for 2010."

Franz Wittmann/ Bernhard Ettel were the only Austrians who participated in an international rally series this year. Their results were not only noted by the local press but the name Franz Wittmann, after the earlier successes of his father, also once more carries some international weight.

If one is to hand out marks after the learning year of 2009, the school report would be as follows:

The Interwetten driver already proved his big talent at the premiere in Monte Carlo. At this snow rally he was in excellent 9th place until the last night before an engine damage forced him to retire. Mark 2

On one went to the Azores islands. Despite the most difficult conditions Franz Wittmann reached sixth overall place on gravel, which also won him his first IRC-points. Mark 1

Things went even better in Russia for the 26-years-old student from Lilienfeld. Here he reached a brilliant 5th overall place, once again on gravel. Mark 1

Belgium, on the other hand, hadn't been worth the trip due to an early retirement. Mark 3

In the Czech Republic the Austrian shone after technical problems and a tyre damage by racing to catch up twice from 42nd place to a final 15th place in the end. Mark 1

In Spain the Interwetten driver once more gave a convincing performance and secured ninth overall place on tarmac. Mark 2

In San Remo he faced an overwhelming competition of 24 S2000 cars but the Lower Austrian nevertheless managed to finish in 19th place. Mark 2

This results in a remarkable mark average of 1,7. In a purely sportive sense, he reached a very good 13th place as best non-S2000-car in his first learning year in the IRC overall ranking.

Due to this very positive balance the planned eighth assignment in Scotland was cancelled. Yet the Lower Austrian didn't rest on his laurels but completed the recce there for learning reasons.

In order to test a S2000 one decided to compete at the Rallye Waldviertel in a Peugeot 207. This mere testing assignement nevertheless led to a second overall place, only 10,7 seconds behind the winner.

Thereby, and through his successes in the IRC so far, Franz Wittmann has effectively proven that he currently is Austria's biggest young hope on the international rally stage.

Please note: On January 12 a press conference will take place in the evening in Vienna, where plans and conceptions for the 2010 season will be presented. Invitations for this date will be sent seperately.

-credit: interwetten-racing