For Franz Wittmann/Bernhard Ettel the Barum-Rally was a roller-coaster of emotions. Ups and downs were constant companions of the Austrians who nevertheless learned a lot for the future and showed staying power The Interwetten Racing duo came...
For Franz Wittmann/Bernhard Ettel the Barum-Rally was a roller-coaster of emotions. Ups and downs were constant companions of the Austrians who nevertheless learned a lot for the future and showed staying power
The Interwetten Racing duo came back twice from seemingly hopeless positions and reached an excellent 15th place at this year's IRC-run with the fiercest competition which also meant fifth place among the non-S2000-cars
At the end of the rally the rear differential broke, to boot, and the two Austrians were fortunate to reach the finishing line in Zlin at all, thereby defending their 11th place in the IRC-ranking in their international learning year
The last three special stages of the IRC Barum-Rally once more had a lot of thrills in store for Franz Wittmann/ Bernhard Ettel. The two managed to move up to 15th intermediate place by reaching 13th and 12th overall time on special stages 13, respectively 14. But then the rear differential of the Mitsubishi Evo IX broke which turned the car into a front-wheel driver from that point on.
"These must have been the worst minutes of my rally career so far. We were aware that everything could suddenly fail and we wouldn't have any propulsion. All this about 30 kilometres before the finishing line - we would simply have coasted to a stop and that's that. But after we had had a lot of bad luck at my first Barum-Rally, luck was our lady this time - a bit of poetic justice", said Franz Wittmann.
There is one thing one certainly can't accuse Wittmann/Ettel of at this rally: that they didn't fight to the last. On day one an electronic problem had them drop back to 42nd place in the IRC-ranking. The more remarkable was their race to catch up on the second day where they had already reached 14th place after six special stages as, behind Vaclav Pech, second-best non- S2000-car. Then the tyre damage happened on SS 7 which cost over four minutes. Suddenly the Interwetten Racing duo found themselves on 32nd place. But they kept on fighting and finished this day on 26th place. The plan for the third day had been to simply achieve some fast times - a plan that worked out by reaching places 11 and 12, as well as 13 twice. That, despite all the problems with the Mitsubishi Evo IX, they eventually finished in 15th overall place against 25 S2000 cars, says a lot for driver and co, as well as for the team.
Therefore Franz Wittmann was able to draw a positive balance at his first Barum-Rally: "Of course, there is some anger over the, all in all, lost six minutes. Counting these out a place among the top ten would have been possible. But we also had a lot of luck and both the tyre damage, as well as the differential defect could have forced us to retire prematurely. Another very positive sign was that we were able to keep up with the speed of the top drivers, even beating Vaclav Pech once. There were many top competitors at this rally which makes the achieved times even more valuable for me. I would especially like to thank Bernhard and my crew. Now I am hoping for a successful Spain Rally which will take place in three weeks."
The big triumphator of the Barum-Rally was local hero Jan Kopecky, who thereby presented Skoda with their second IRC victory. Kris Meeke, as overall second in the Czech Republic, thus continues to lead in the overall ranking.