WRC

J-WRC: Rally Catalunya: Red Bull leg 1 summary

GASSNER JR SHOWS HIS CLASS IN SPAIN Red Bull Rallye Team driver Hermann Gassner Jr is leading the 'conventional' Group N category in Spain, for four-wheel drive turbocharged cars based on production models. The young German is in...

GASSNER JR SHOWS HIS CLASS IN SPAIN

Red Bull Rallye Team driver Hermann Gassner Jr is leading the 'conventional' Group N category in Spain, for four-wheel drive turbocharged cars based on production models. The young German is in an excellent 14th overall after the opening day of the Rallye de Espana, which unusually was run on mixed asphalt and gravel stages.

Only the top World Rally Cars and some lighter Super 2000 cars are in front of him, despite the Red Bull driver having far less experience.

Gassner Jr, who is contesting a limited World Championship programme this year, was on top form and suffered no mechanical problems at all today. The action took in six stages, with a midday service halt at the Port Aventura theme park, where the rally is based in Salou. Temperatures were dry and warm in the afternoon, following some fog in the morning.

Tomorrow, the rally route is purely asphalt, which means that there is a specially-extended service halt tonight to allow the teams to switch their cars from gravel to asphalt configuration. Gassner Jr's Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX is run by the experienced BRR team, headed up by multiple Austrian Champion Raimund Baumschlager. In Austria, there are several mixed rallies run on both gravel and asphalt, which means that the team is used to quickly changing the specifications on their cars. This will be useful as Gassner Jr's Mitsubishi undergoes a complete transformation tonight.

Although Gassner Jr has competed in Spain before, the stages run today were all new to him. Together with his co-driver Kathi Wustenhagen, the German steered clear of trouble to set stage times that were regularly in the top 15 overall.

"It's been pretty much the perfect day for us," said Gassner Jr. "We've really enjoyed these stages and we've had no problems at all with the car. I think now that the experience we have gradually accumulated over these last few events is really beginning to pay off. We've been pushing today without taking stupid risks, and we've also benefited from really good pace notes, which have allowed us to tackle these tricky stages with confidence. That's very important, as this is not an easy rally and we are up against many local experts."

Gasser Jr's team boss Raimund Baumschlager added: "Actually, Hermann's great performance today has come as no particular surprise to me as I know just what he is capable of. He's worked a lot on his pace notes and that has been a big contribution to his pace today, as well as his raw talent. The fact that Hermann is able to do these times without knowing the stages just underlines his potential. When we are on asphalt tomorrow and Sunday I think that Hermann will suffer a bit from the limitations of the car, but if he carries on like this he is on course for an extremely good result."

Saturday's second day is made up of six stages covering a competitive distance of 126.62 kilometres. The first stage starts at 0959 local time tomorrow.

-source: red bull

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Series WRC
Drivers Raimund Baumschlager