After four runs to the International Rally Challenge (IRC), the Interwetten-Racing Team can draw a positive halftime balance Franz Wittmann/Bernhard Ettel have scored points in Russia with fifth place and by finishing sixth on the Azores, as...
After four runs to the International Rally Challenge (IRC), the Interwetten-Racing Team can draw a positive halftime balance
Franz Wittmann/Bernhard Ettel have scored points in Russia with fifth place and by finishing sixth on the Azores, as well as causing a stir in Monte Carlo and Belgium
Thus one is on the right way in the learning year in the IRC with tenth intermediate place, being best non-S2000-car to boot
When the Interwetten-Racing project was announced in November of last year - taking part in eight runs of the International Rally Challenge 2009 (IRC) with Franz Wittmann and Bernhard Ettel - one talked about an absolute learning year with the objective of being among the top-10 at the end of the season. This goal had also been clearly defined in accordance with the sponsor Interwetten.
Therefore, for the first year, one trusted in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, prepared by Stohl-Racing, which was at a disadvantage power-wise compared to the much stronger S2000 works cars employed by most opponents.
Franz Wittmann on this point: "That doesn't matter. In the international rally business there are other factors that count. What one especially needs is experience. And this experience can be equally well gathered with a group N-car - with the additional bonus of being within a realistic financial frame."
Prior to the season one had assumed that about seven to ten S2000 cars would take part - a number that was already upped at the season's opening in Monte Carlo. There no less than 17 such cars were at the start. This amount was even surpassed in Belgium by twenty S2000 vehicles. Only on the Azores and in Russia one remained within the initially assumed number. The fact, that Franz Wittmann/Bernhard Ettel are nevertheless in tenth place of the overall ranking at halftime in their Mitsubishi Evo IX shows that the learning process was very successful so far.
The season started in Monte Carlo. During most adverse conditions with a lot of snow and ice Wittmann/Ettel were in excellent ninth position as best non-S2000-car after four special stages prior to the "Night of the Long Knives" despite having been a kind of "snowplough" as first car on the road, before they had to retire due to engine damage. Wittmann nevertheless got rave reviews from the international specialised press on the spot for his performance.
At their next assignment on the Azores on gravel the two Interwetten- Racing drivers were able to confirm their form and finished in overall sixth place as second-best S2000 car - the first Austrians to score points in the IRC series.
One didn't have very high hopes for the tarmac classic in Ypern, Belgium. Wittmann/Ettel nevertheless had already reached 11th overall place before they had to retire on SS 9 due to another tyre damage and the lack of a further spare tyre.
Then came the big challenge for the Interwetten- Racing Team: the gravel- rally in Russia. And here the two Austrians proved that they have almost outgrown their pupil stage already in their IRC-learning year. They finished in overall fifth place as best non-S2000-car, thereby securing their top international career result.
"We can be really satisfied with what we have achieved so far. We have learned a lot during these four runs and gathered valuable experience for the coming years. Our goal for the remaining rallies in the Czech Republic, Spain, Italy and Scotland is to somewhat close the gap to the S2000, even though our Mitsubishi has less engine-power and more weight", explains a very confident Franz Wittmann.