Wolfsburg: Just a few more days to go before the big season highlight in the FIA World Rally Championship starts for Volkswagen: ADAC Rallye Deutschland. From 24 to 26 August, the factory team deploys to contest its home round with the largest driver line-up at a WRC round so far: Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) and Sepp Wiegand/Timo Gottschalk (D/D) will each be piloting a Fabia S2000 of the Group’s Škoda brand.
The ninth station of the World Rally Championship around the Trier venue marks another milestone on Volkswagen’s road towards the WRC in 2013. Until then, the main goal is to gather experience. And ADAC Rallye Deutschland is perfectly suited for this purpose. The racers are in for 15 special stages covering a total distance of 1,110.25 kilometres through the viticultural region around the river Moselle and the northern part of the Saarland. A varied track layout featuring fast and twisting vineyard roads on rough and dusty ground makes maximum demands on the racers’ driving skills.
“Rallye Deutschland is our home round and an absolute highlight in our preparation for the WRC entry with the Polo R WRC next year,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “For the first time this season, we’re competing with three vehicles at a WRC round. The challenging special stages around Trier will provide the drivers and our whole team with further important experiences for the future. And naturally we’re looking forward to our run in front of such a large crowd and want to deliver a superb show to the rally fans in Germany.”
In Sébastien Ogier, who like his two brand colleagues will compete in the less powerful S2000 class, Volkswagen has a true Rallye Deutschland specialist in its ranks. “Last year’s victory was a very special one for me, particularly since Sébastien Loeb had won this event eight consecutive times before,” says the 28-year-old Volkswagen factory driver, who finished the WRC in third place overall last year. “The rally is not easy, mainly because of the many tight corners in the vineyards. As a driver, you use the handbrake here more often than at any other event during the whole season. You can lose a lot of time in the process. The special stages feature a lot of variety and are spectacular. The last super special, ‘Circus Maximus’, through the middle of Trier has a special atmosphere.”
Only 23 years old but active in rallying since 2006 is the second driver in the Volkswagen team, Andreas Mikkelsen. The current champion of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) knows where the treacherous places are at ADAC Rallye Deutschland. “Baumholder has very rough tarmac that is very hard on the tires. In addition, there are the dreaded wayside menhirs and countless branch-offs that you can easily miss. Completely different are the narrow stages in the vineyards which I’m especially looking forward to. Rallye Deutschland is a home round for the Volkswagen team and thus a very special event. The field in our Super 2000 class is pretty well filled this time, which promises a lot of suspense in the overall classification,” says the Norwegian who, as usual, is navigated by his fellow countryman Ola Fløene.
The youngest member of the Volkswagen team is Sepp Wiegand, who is just 21 years old. After several years in Enduro racing, he switched to rallying only in 2010 at the age of 19. Just a season later, he won the ADAC Rallye Junior Cup. Despite his quick climb he treats Rallye Deutschland with a lot of respect: “My team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen are some of the world’s best rally drivers. Being in the same team with them is a great feeling. I’ll probably be able to get a tip from them here and there. On the other hand, this raises the benchmark to a pretty high level for me. Rallye Deutschland with its narrow sections in the vineyards is very special. There’s no room for mistakes there. In addition, the tarmac is often dirty and thus slippery,” predicts the driver from Saxony.
The inaugural round of ADAC Rallye Deutschland was held 30 years ago and it has been part of the FIA World Rally Championship for ten years. After several relocations from Frankfurt via Mainz to Koblenz, St. Wendel and Adenau, the rally centre has been set up in the middle of the old Roman city of Trier since 2000. Except for 2009, the event has consistently been on the WRC calendar since 2002. In addition to the field of current rally cars, legends and classics will be running at Rallye Deutschland. Volkswagen Representative Jacky Ickx, for example, will compete in a Porsche 911 Carrera 4x4 of the type he piloted at the 1984 Dakar Rally. He will be navigated by his Belgian compatriot Frédéric Miclotte, who normally serves as co-driver to Volkswagen Junior Kevin Abbring.
The 30th running of Rallye Deutschland will begin on Thursday, 24 August, at 8 p.m. with the ceremonial start in front of the ancient Porta Nigra in the heart of Trier. The first special stage, “Mittelmosel 1” (24.9 kilometres), is on the agenda for Friday morning. The “Circus Maximus” super special (4.37 kilometres) will then again take place in Trier.