Gassner Jr battles against the odds in France Red Bull Rallye Team driver Hermann Gassner Jr's hopes of a top five finish in the Group N section of Rallye de France suffered an early setback when a rear driveshaft broke on his Mitsubishi Lancer...
Gassner Jr battles against the odds in France
Red Bull Rallye Team driver Hermann Gassner Jr's hopes of a top five finish in the Group N section of Rallye de France suffered an early setback when a rear driveshaft broke on his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX as he was accelerating away from the start line of the opening stage this morning.
As a result, the rising star from Germany was restricted to front-wheel drive only through the opening four stages. He also faced a loss of traction and a handling imbalance and languished in 52nd overall and 25th in the Group N category at the completion of the morning loop of tests having lost approximately five minutes. The morning stages were held on damp and tricky asphalt roads in the Alsace region of France.
"It's been really difficult and the uphill parts were especially tricky," the 21-year-old said at the remote service halt in Mulhouse. "I am not able to push but it's also dangerous because you don't have the right handling."
Despite the early problems Gassner Jr refused to get demoralised and fitted a replacement driveshaft at the remote service halt. Regulations prevent teams from carrying spare parts for their drivers so any new components have to be carried in competing cars, which Gassner Jr sensibly did.
"When we have a remote service halt like today we always make sure the driver has a spare driveshaft in the car," said Gassner Jr's team boss Raimund Baumschlager, who runs the Austrian BRR operation. "Hermann has been unlucky from a mechanical point of view but, as with all events he is doing, it is about learning the rallies and gaining the experience. He has been able to pass through all the stages and that is the most important thing."
With his car restored to full working order, Gassner Jr was able to drive at normal rally speed during the afternoon stages. However, that created another problem for last year's German rally champion, who was consistently catching slower cars running in front of him through the stages.
"It is obvious that with more luck and a better road position Hermann would have been higher up the leaderboard," continued Baumschlager. "But rallying can be tough at times and Hermann did not get the breaks he deserved this morning. Tomorrow is another day and I am sure we will see more of the real Hermann then."
Gassner Jr suffered a final dose of bad luck when he was handed a two-minute penalty for being late into a time control after he was delayed at a refuel zone when another competitor's car caught fire. Baumschlager explained that he would be discussing the matter with the rally stewards in the hope he could get the penalty overturned.
Saturday's second day is made up of eight stages covering a competitive distance of 149.22 kilometres. The first stage starts at 0828hrs local time tomorrow.
-source: red bull