OMV Rallye Valdviertel summary

OMV Rallye Waldviertel 2004 was a worthy season's finale More than 50.000 spectators celebrate winner and new Austrian Champion Benik wins Austrian Championship ranking, Harrach 3rd, FIA Cup won by Cserhalmi in front of Aigner Zellhofer ...

OMV Rallye Waldviertel 2004 was a worthy season's finale

More than 50.000 spectators celebrate winner and new Austrian Champion Benik wins Austrian Championship ranking, Harrach 3rd, FIA Cup won by Cserhalmi in front of Aigner Zellhofer N-Champion, Danzinger Diesel-winner and Schachinger Junior Champion

The 24th OMV Rally Waldviertel that took place in the Horn and Wadihofen/Thaya area on Friday and Saturday proved to be a successful season's finale for more than 50.000 fans and 110 competing teams. Weather conditions were rather mild this year, the expected rain on the second day stayed clear of the Waldviertel region.

Organisation Manager Helmut Schopf took positive stock of the event: "Most of all I'm happy that there were no serious accidents. My thanks to all involved, especially our new main sponsor OMV and the country of Lower Austria. I'm sure that we are heading in the right direction and we're already looking forward to next year."

Talking about the sportive side, due to the cancellation of special stage 7 it was necessary in the Austrian Championship ranking to divide the rally into the FIA European Rallye Cup and into the Austrian T-Mobile Championship as far as ranking was concerned.

The beginning of the FIA European Rallye Cup was marked by the fight between Slovakian Tibor Cserhalmi, Austrian Red Bull Junior Andreas Aigner and Hungarian driver Krisztian Hideg -- until the latter, while in the lead, had to retire on SS 7. The 20-year-old Styrian Aigner continued to duel with experienced Tibor Csherhalmi, a duel that, in the end, was won by the Slovakian by a lead of 1:14 minutes.

"The rally was a lot of fun for me, since it was the first time for me on a mixed gravel-tarmac rally. I really felt at home. And that I became national priority driver through this rally is the icing on the cake," said an overjoyed Andreas Aigner after his first rally in Austria. The second Red Bull Junior Quirin Muller also gave a very good performance up to special stage seven where he had to retire after an accident. Due to troubles with the differential on SS 4, Walter Kovacs had to retire as well.

The top five of the FIA European Rally Cup receive national priority status for next year in their respective countries.

Final standings in the FIA Rallye Cup after 17 special stages: <pre> 1. Tibor Cserhalmi/ Martin Krajnak (SK) Mitsubishi 2:32, 39,1 hours 2. Andreas Aigner/Timo Gottschalk (A/Ger) Mitsubishi + 1:14,6 min. 3. Joszef Beres/Petr Stary (SK/CZ) Subaru + 2:16,5 min. 4. David Marek/Ladislav Kriz (CZ) Mitsubishi + 6:53,6 5. Dan Morar/Adrian Berghea (RO) Mitsubishi +11:06,7 </pre> Balazs Benik big winner of the OMV Waldviertelrallye 2004

Beppo Harrach as third best Austrian behind Stepan Vojtech Group N victory to Gassner ahead of Franz Wittmann jun., 1st Diesel: Danzinger

The local T-Mobile ranking at the 24th int. OMV Rallye Waldviertel was dominated by Hungarian Balazs Benik. The Ford Focus WRC driver took the lead right from special stage one and kept it, while achieving eight best times overall, right to the finishing line: "It was the first victory in a FIA European run for me, so my team and I are, of course, overjoyed. And I'm even happier that I was able to win the rally of my sponsor OMV." But the Hungarian did benefit from the big troubles of OMV driver Manfred Stohl who fell back from second to 19th place on SS 4. After further problems the Viennese at least managed to reach tenth place overall and fifth place in Group N: "In the beginning things looked really fine, the best time on SS 2 boosted my confidence. But then everything went down the drain. My love for the Evo VIII still hasn't increased after this OMV rally."

Beppo Harrach finished third overall, behind Stepan Vojtech: "Today I tried to get between the two WRC cars. This worked during the rally but at the finish I was behind nevertheless. Still, third place as best Austrian at this rally is a success for me."

The fight for third overall place in the championship between Mario Saibel and Johann Holzmuller in Group A was a sight to behold. Before the final run in the Waldviertel both were only one point apart. Finally, on the next-to-last special stage, Johann Holzmuller managed to overtake Saibel and secure third place in the championship:" It was incredible. I really gave my all at the end and I'm extremely happy that it worked out", said a beaming Holzmuller at the finish.

Like Stohl, national champion Raimund Baumschlager, also on Mitsubishi Evo VIII, had a lot of bad luck. The man from Rosenau, who participated solely for testing purposes, encountered small troubles right from the beginning and had to retire on the first day after SS 5. Tomas Vojtech in the Peugeot WRC also had to retire, being second in the intermediate ranking at the time.

Winner of Group N ranking was German Hermann Gassner in front of Willi Stengg: "After the long break I felt very comfortable in the car." Franz Wittmann junior gave an impressive performance: "Finally I had a well tuned car, therefore the rally was a lot of fun. Too bad my car caught fire twice on the last special stage and I fell back to fourth place". With third place in Group N Martin Zellhofer secured the title of national champion for the first time in his rally career: "I was ready for the fight with Kris Rosenberger. It surely would have been a close race, but Kris had bad luck with the turbocharger this time. The winning of the title is the biggest success of my career so far." Toto Wolff also was satisfied with his performance, to a certain extent. Unfortunately the Viennese, already in eleventh place, raced off the track during the next-to-last special stage and damaged the tie rod.

The title fight among the Juniors was decided rather early on at this rally. Markus Leeb raced off the track on special stage one already and Markus Weissengruber had to retire due to a faulty gearbox. Therefore, all Rupert Schachinger had to do was to score -- which he did.

It was a close race in the diesel-competition. For two thirds of the rally, Christian Lippitsch dominated his opponents. But on SS 13 the subframe of his VW TDI KitCar broke and the Upper Austrian had to retire. The new Diesel Champion Hannes Danzinger also had a moment of shock: "I drove very carefully throughout the rally, still I slipped on SS 10. The engine died and I lost three minutes and fell back on third place behind Bohm. That would have been it for the title. But I managed to overtake Bohm and when Lippitsch had to retire I could finally celebrate my first title." Lippitsch's retirement also benefited Manfred Pfeiffenberger on the SEAT TDI who thereby secured the title of vice-champion.

Final standings of the OMV Rallye Waldviertel after 16 driven special stages: <pre> 1. Balazs Benik/ Bence Racz (H) Ford WRC 2:18:03,3 min 2. Stepan Vojtech/Michal Ernst (CZ) Peugeot WRC + 2:21,1 3. Beppo Harrach/A.Schindlbacher (A) Mitsubishi + 2:49,3 4. Hermann Gassner/K.Thannhauser (Ger) Mitsubishi 1.GrpN + 4:31,1 5. Johann Holzmuller/St. Langthaler (A) Mitsubishi + 5:30,2 6. Mario Saibel/Mario Suß (A) Mitsubishi + 5:31,7 7. Willi Stengg/Petra Haas (A) Mitsubishi 2.GrpN + 6:16,3 8. Martin Zellhofer/Bernhard Ettel (A) Mitsubishi 3.GrpN + 6:40,6 9. Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor (A) Mitsubishi 4.GrpN + 9:13,9 11. Hannes Danzinger/Alfred Fuchs (A) VW TDI 1. Diesel +16:20,2 12. Michael Bohm/Gunther Schmirl (A) Fiat Stilo 2. Diesel +17:15,0 13. M. Pfeiffenberger/Martin Sztachovics (A) Seat 3. Diesel +19:16,0 27. Rupert Schachinger/Nadeem Baig (A) Suzuki Ignis +27,31,5

Significant retirements in both competitions:
Marcus Leeb SS 1 (accident), Markus Weissengruber SS 1 (gearbox), Kris Rosenberger SS 5 (turbocharger), Raimund Baumschlager after SS 5 (generator). Andreas Waldherr ZK 8 (accident), Tomas Vojtech ZK 9, (engine), Gottfried Kogler ZK 12 (electric installation), Christian Lippitsch ZK 14, (subframe)

Best time statistics FIA European Rallye Cup (17 SS): Cserhalmi 7, Aigner 5, Hideg 3, Beres 2

Best time statistics OMV Rallye Waldviertel (16 SS): Benik 9, Stepan Vojtech 6, Stohl 1

Final standings in the T-Mobile Rallye National Championship 2004 of Group A: 1. Raimund Baumschlager 68 points 2. Beppo Harrach 48 3. Johann Holzmuller 34 4. Mario Saibel 34 5. Ruben Zeltner 26 6. Andreas Waldherr 23 7. Gottfried Kogler 15

Final standings in the T-Mobile Rallye National Championship 2004 of Group N:
1. Martin Zellhofer 58 points
2. Hermann Gassner 51
3. Kris Rosenberger 51
4. Ernst Haneder 31
5. Achim Mortl 28
6. Franz Wittmann jun. 21
7. Manfred Stohl 18
8. Karim Pichler 15

Final standings in the Rallye Cup of the OSK for Diesel-vehicles 2004:
1. Hannes Danzinger 68
2. Manfred Pfeiffenberger 57
3. Christian Lippitsch 52
4. Michael Bohm 42
5. Martin Ertl 25

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Achim Mortl , Manfred Stohl , Ilka Minor , Quirin Muller , Andreas Aigner , Timo Gottschalk , Tibor Cserhalmi , Stepan Vojtech , Michal Ernst , Balazs Benik , Andreas Waldherr , Ruben Zeltner , Raimund Baumschlager , Petr Stary