Interwetten Racing Team had to retire on special stage nine at the "Ypres Rally" in Belgium, lying in 12th place Franz Wittmann/ Bernhard Ettel ran out of tyres on this stage, after having had tyre damages already on SS 7 and SS 9, including a...
Interwetten Racing Team had to retire on special stage nine at the "Ypres Rally" in Belgium, lying in 12th place
Franz Wittmann/ Bernhard Ettel ran out of tyres on this stage, after having had tyre damages already on SS 7 and SS 9, including a broken driveshaft on the latter
They nevertheless draw a positive balance from the first assignment in Belgium. What remains are many learning kilometres and an intermediate 12th place that lay way above the expectation of reaching a top 15 result in Belgium
A time correction took place late in the night from Friday to Saturday at the rally headquarters of the "Ypres Rally" in Belgium, a part of the "International Rally Challenge (IRC)". It affected SS 5 which had been aborted due to an accident, thereby also affectiong the time of Franz Wittmann/Bernhard Ettel in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. Thus the two Austrians suddenly found themselves not in tenth but eleventh intermediate place in the overall ranking. Which also had them take up today's final day not, like reported, as first car but eleventh car on the road.
Special stage 7 over 21,85 kilometres in Langenmark showed a result at the top that had almost become the order: Meeke in front of Kopecky and Loix, the latter still staying ahead of Meeke by two seconds overall. For the Interwetten Racing duo Franz Wittmann/Bernhard Ettel in their Mitsubishi Evo IX today started with a moment of shock. The Austrians were too fast in a left turn:
"We got off the road and damaged a tyre and the oil cooler during our ride through a ditch. We only changed the tyre after the SS. All in all, we lost a little over 30 seconds thereby which cost us one place (from 11 to 12), as our closest pursuer, Lhonnay from Belgium, overtook us. I hope we will manage to complete the next two stages until the service", said Wittmann.
SS 8 over 11,32 km saw a new winner at the top. This time Czech Jan Kopecky was up front, followed by Freddy Loix and Kris Meeke. Franz Wittmann/Bernhard Ettel couldn't keep up their speed due to vibrations of the tyres but nevertheless managed fourteenth-best time which meant twelfth overall place and third-best Non-S2000-car.
SS 9 over 10,23 kilometres, the last stage prior to the regrouping, ended with a success by overall leader Freddy Loix ahead of Kris Meeke and Jan Kopecky. For the Interwetten Racing duo Franz Wittmann/Bernhard Ettel these proved to be the last kilometres of the rally, though:
"After we had gotten to terms with the vibrations on SS 8 on our own, we were on a good way on SS 9. But then we had another tyre damage, front right. Since we didn't have a second spare tyre we drove on until the tyre had completely dissolved. Thereby the driveshaft also broke. This finally meant an early retirement at this great rally", stated an obvioulsy very disappointed Franz Wittmann.
Franz Wittmann nevertheless drew a positive balance for the Interwetten Racing Team in Belgium:
"We took up the race despite knowing that we wouldn't stand much chance against 19 superior S2000 cars and several Mitsubishi Evo X at this 100- percent tarmac classic rally. But we can be a little bit proud that we managed to be in eleventh intermediate place as second-best Non-S2000-car after six completed special stages. In any case, we learned a lot here. I hope that I can put these experiences into action at further starts in Belgium in the future."
The next assignment of Franz Wittmann/Bernhard Ettel will take place at the IRC-run in Russia from July 9 to 11, 2009.