Motorsport fans in Germany will have their first opportunity to see a Ford Focus RS World Rally Car in competitive action when works drivers FranÃ§ois Delecour and Daniel Grataloup tackle the Rallye Deutschland (6 - 8 July) in the car that has ...
Motorsport fans in Germany will have their first opportunity to see a Ford Focus RS World Rally Car in competitive action when works drivers François Delecour and Daniel Grataloup tackle the Rallye Deutschland (6 - 8 July) in the car that has dominated the FIA World Rally Championship in recent weeks.
The French pair, part of the Ford Martini team which leads the world championship after three consecutive victories during the last two months, will head a two-car team in the three-day asphalt rally. Delecour and Grataloup, sixth in the drivers' standings, will be joined in Germany by the Red Bull-backed Focus of Raimund Baumschlager and Klaus Wicha.
The Trier-based event is not a world championship round but, with every possibility that it may be promoted into the series for 2002, three other works teams have entered cars to gain experience of the rally. Among Delecour's rivals will be reigning world champion Marcus Grönholm and asphalt expert Philippe Bugalski.
"This will be a good opportunity to compare the Ford Focus on asphalt with other front-running cars," said 38-year-old Delecour. "I tested the car in Spain after the Acropolis Rally and it was superb. Pirelli had a new construction tyre and we tried different suspension settings and the combination was perfect. In two days I drove almost 400km, the length of a world rally, and the feeling was very good.
"I've never competed in Germany before but I believe the roads on the first and last days are slippery and narrow, but fast with many hairpins. That's similar to the stages in Belgium on which I started my rallying career so I'm used to that type of road. It'll be an interesting weekend and I'm looking forward to it," he added.
Delecour had a light plaster fitted to his wrist, injured in a cycling accident, after returning from the Acropolis Rally earlier this month. However, the pain has subsided and he is due to have the plaster removed before leaving for Germany.
Baumschlager and Wicha are contesting the Austrian Championship in their Red Bull-supported Focus. They currently lie third after two second places and three third place finishes. Although the Rallye Deutschland is not a round of the Austrian series, Baumschlager is German speaking and keen to make an impact in his neighbouring country.
"I've competed in this area three times previously although this year many of the stages are being run in the opposite direction to normal so that will reduce some of the advantage of my previous experience," he said. "I would like to finish in the top five but with the strong competition that won't be so easy.
"The second leg will be the toughest. The concrete roads are hard on tyres and if it rains it becomes very slippery. It's easy to slide wide and hit the big kerb stones which line the road and that can end the rally quickly," added Baumschlager.
Ford Martini team director Malcolm Wilson said the rally would provide the perfect opportunity to analyse the Focus RS' performance on asphalt for the first time in competition since the Catalunya Rally.
"That was a difficult rally for us but François has carried out several tests on asphalt since then and we've moved forward considerably, particularly on the most recent test in Spain earlier this month," he said. "The real proof of progress comes in competition so this will be a good chance for us to compare ourselves against other top world championship drivers like Marcus and Philippe and see where we stand.
"Germany is such an important market place for car manufacturers, especially for Ford whose European headquarters is based in Cologne, that it needs a world championship round. Perhaps this year's event will be a dress rehearsal for a place in the 2002 series. It's a great opportunity for fans there to see closely the world's best drivers and rally cars in action for the first time," added Wilson.
Ford has also entered a Rapid Fit-backed Puma Kit Car for Martin Rowe and Chris Wood. Rowe, currently leading Britain's Formula Rally series for the 1600cc two-wheel drive machines, will face stern opposition from Sebastian Loeb, leader of the FIA Super 1600 Cup, widely regarded as the junior world championship.
From the rally base in Trier, the event spreads out to three distinct areas. The opening leg takes competitors north for stages through the narrow and twisty vineyards of the Mosel region. The middle day heads east to the Baumholder military area for tests on fast and wide concrete roads, usually used by US and German soldiers for tank training. A fine covering of sand can make these roads slippery when wet and huge kerb stones at the edge of the road are ready to catch the unwary. The final day reverts to narrower stages in the undulating Saarland region, south-east of Trier. A spectacular super special stage through the streets of St Wendel completes the action on both the second and third legs. Drivers face 350.11 km of competition in a total route of 1179.18 km.
RALLYE DEUTSCHLAND 2001
6 - 8 JULY 2001
Friday 6 July: Leg 1 Trier - Trier
Start Trier 10.00 SS1 Schönes Moselland 20.30km 11.13 SS2 Moselwein 22.56km 11.51 SS3 Schönes Moselland 20.30km 14.39 SS4 Moselwein 22.56km 15.17 SS5 Stein - und Wein/Fell - Ruwertal 15.67km 16.20 Finish Trier 17.55 Total 101.39km
Saturday 7 July: Leg 2 Trier - Trier
Start Trier 08.00 SS6 Maiwald 21.91km 09.53 SS7 Panzerplatte 35.45km 11.10 SS8 Erzweiler 19.00km 11.58 SS9 Maiwald 21.91km 14.00 SS10 Panzerplatte 35.45km 15.17 SS11 Erzweiler 19.00km 16.05 SS12 Super Special St. Wendel 7.10km 18.35 Finish Trier 21.50 Total 159.82km
Sunday 8 July: Leg 3 Trier - Trier
Start Trier 07.00 SS13 Peterberg 15.68km 09.23 SS14 Bostalsee 18.39km 09.46 SS15 Bosenberg 14.67km 10.19 SS16 Bostalsee 18.39km 12.03 SS17 Bosenberg 14.67km 12.36 SS18 Super Special Stage St. Wendel 7.10km 13.58 Finish Trier 16.00 Total 88.90km
Rally Total 350.11km
- Ford Racing