WRC

Rally Portugal: Hermann Gassner Jr preview

Gassner Jr aims for Portugal success after road trip Red Bull-backed driver Hermann Gassner Jr is determined to score a top five finish in the Group N category on his return to the World Rally Championship in Portugal this weekend. In order to...

Gassner Jr aims for Portugal success after road trip

Red Bull-backed driver Hermann Gassner Jr is determined to score a top five finish in the Group N category on his return to the World Rally Championship in Portugal this weekend. In order to give himself every chance of doing well, he has driven his own reconnaissance car from his home in Germany to the rally base in Faro.

The 21-year-old completed the 2,800-kilometre trip because he felt it would boost his chances of a strong result on the demanding gravel event, which marks his return to the WRC for the first time since Rally Sweden in February at the wheel of his Mitsubishi Lancer E9.

"I wanted to have my recce car with me rather than using a hire car, which would not be so good and would have got me into trouble with the hire car company if I had used it to drive through the gravel stages," said Gassner Jr. "Driving my own recce car to Portugal was the best option for me but I arrived a day early because I did not want to be late."

Gassner Jr, who is co-driven by fellow German Katherina Wustenhagen, is no stranger to Portugal's abrasive gravel stages. He tackled the event for the first time in 2009, finishing fourth in class in a heroic 12th overall.

"I am targeting a top five finish in Group N but I believe a podium is definitely possible although I am not sure how quick some of the local drivers will be," said Gassner. "It's a very hard rally because there are fast and slow sections and we knew from last year that the surface is very hard for the tyres. But it was earlier in the year then and not so hot. Now it is the end of May and the temperatures will be even higher so I expect there to be more problems."

Gassner Jr's last competitive outing on gravel was on Rally Great Britain in October 2009. In order to get acclimatised to driving on loose stage conditions once again, he covered approximately 150 kilometres during a test in Austria last week in his Lancer, which is prepared by Raimund Baumschlager's BRR operation.

"We got some time in the car, which was important after a long time not being able to drive," said Gassner Jr. "With the running we'll get during the pre-event shakedown we will be ready for the rally, no problem."

His team boss, multiple Austrian champion Raimund Baumschlager agreed. "Hermann is an extremely determined and talented young man," he said. "His only handicap is his lack of experience, but you only build this up through driving regularly."

Rally de Portugal is the sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. It is based in Faro in the county's Algarve region and covers 355.32 kilometres over 18 special stages, including two fan-friendly superspecial stages in Estadio Algarve, which was built for the UEFA Euro 2004 football tournament.

-source: red bull

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Series WRC
Drivers Raimund Baumschlager