Confident start for Hyundai in Germany. Hyundai Castrol World Rally Team crews Armin Schwarz/Manfred Hiemer and Freddy Loix/Sven Smeets made a confident start to Rallye Deutschland to close the day in sixth and eighth positons overall. The ...
Confident start for Hyundai in Germany.
Hyundai Castrol World Rally Team crews Armin Schwarz/Manfred Hiemer and Freddy Loix/Sven Smeets made a confident start to Rallye Deutschland to close the day in sixth and eighth positons overall.
The opening day of the rally saw the crews on very fast and narrow roads in the vineyards on the banks of the Mosel river. The stages were littered with hairpin bends which caught out many, as did the roadside rocks.
Leading German crew and local favourites Armin Schwarz and Manfred Hiemer set top ten stage times for most of the day, including a fifth fastest on special stage five, despite a few minor problems. The pair experienced a small misfire during the third stage and a brake problem and intermittent lack of turbo boost hindered progress slightly on stage four and six respectively.
"The car is ok -- it is handling and performing well - but there was only one stage today when I was able to make the most of having no problems. Our road position was fine and I'm not too worried about tomorrow. I'm actually looking forward to it and I am confident if I drive the roads the way I know I have to that we can go well," explained former European Rally Champion Schwarz. "It's great to have so many spectators out in the stages - hopefully tomorrow they won't be standing in such dangerous places as it is not giving us any room for mistakes -- we're good drivers but we still need a margin for error!"
Belgian team-mates Freddy Loix and Sven Smeets also set competitive stage times throughout the day including a third fastest on the fifth timed test. The pair had a predominantly clean run en route to their overnight position of ninth, only falling prey to rocks on the side of the road damaging a wheel rim on two occasions. The final stage saw a small setback however when the pair experienced a misfire. Freddy explained, "We had a problem 2km into the final stage and started to get a misfire when we accelerated. It's very disappointing as I was really hoping to go well. Losing so much time after such a good day is very difficult. I will just have to try and work my way back up the leaderboard tomorrow, although I know it will be very tricky."
News from our Rivals
Leg one saw four leading retirements, the most prominent being Alister McRae (Mitsubishi) whose engine lost oil pressure on stage six. Toshiro Arai (Subaru) retired after special stage four with gearbox failure. Skoda's new recruit and reigning German rally champion Matthias Kahle retired when his engine cut out on stage three; Jesus Puras (Citroen) saw his rally truncated in the same stage with an electrical shutdown and his car would not restart. The other Citroens had an excellent day with Sebastien Loeb and Philippe Bugalski in first and third position sandwiching Richard Burns (Peugeot). Colin McRae (Ford) and Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot) hold fourth and fifth positions respectively.
Leg two takes competing crews southeast to the heathland of the Baumholder military base for a very different style of rallying unlike anything in any other round. The roads are made of very abrasive concrete and it is very rough and bumpy, described by Manfred Hiemer as an 'asphalt safari'. Leg two is the longest of the event covering 164.44 competitive kilometres over eight stages, the last of which is the superspecial stage in St.Wendel, before crews return to the Trier overnight halt at 21.44hrs.