Rallye Deutschland: Hyundai preview

Schwarz excited to drive Hyundai on home ground. Hyundai Castrol World Rally Team crews Armin Schwarz/Manfred Hiemer and Freddy Loix/Sven Smeets next week head to Germany as the FIA World Rally Championship leaves gravel for the first of two...

Schwarz excited to drive Hyundai on home ground.

Hyundai Castrol World Rally Team crews Armin Schwarz/Manfred Hiemer and Freddy Loix/Sven Smeets next week head to Germany as the FIA World Rally Championship leaves gravel for the first of two final consecutive asphalt events of the season, Rallye Deutschland.

Formerly a round of the European Rally Championship, the German roads are not entirely new but this is the first year the rally has qualified for inclusion the World Championship, therefore most WRC teams will not have contested the event before. Based in Trier in southwest Germany, the rally is perfectly positioned in the heart of Europe at only 10km from Luxembourg and less than 50km from neighbouring France and Belgium.

Hyundai's Armin Schwarz and co-driver Manfred Hiemer are one of the few WRC crews to have contested the rally before and are excited that top level rallying has made it to home ground. Former European Champion Schwarz explains why a WRC round in Germany will be a step forward for motorsport in his country, "It is an excellent chance for German motorsport fans to see world class rallying on roads where previously they have only seen national championship events. In a country where Schumacher is a household name and for most people the only person they really know in motorsport, to have a World Championship rally in Germany is the best way for Germans to be made aware that there is more to top-level motorsport than Formula 1. And it will be a good way for them to realise not only how much closer rallying is to the public but that it's easier and cheaper to access than F1."

Talking more specifically about Rallye Deutschland, Armin continued, "This rally will provide surprises and be quite unfamiliar for most competitors which is refreshing considering most rallies in the championship we have been doing for many years. It is a bit like three rallies in one with different road surfaces on each day. We have to deal with very fast and narrow roads through the vineyards which can be a bit like the roads in Sanremo; very abrasive and bumpy concrete roads in Baumholder and then some more 'normal' tarmac with lots of crests. It provides lots of variety and if it continues to rain like it has been over the last week then we could be in for some interesting surprises."

In comparison, for Belgian team-mates Freddy Loix and Sven Smeets Rallye Deutschland will be a new experience having never contested the event before. "Germany will be interesting as there are only a few people who have done it before. For us it is the first time but it will be good to have a new event on the calendar. The test went well for me but that is the only experience I have of these roads. Armin thinks I will like the rally as the stages are similar to those in Belgium, although I just have to believe him on that one!"

Key Issues

According to Manfred Hiemer, co-driver to Armin Schwarz, "The main point about this rally is that it is new to almost everybody. I know there will be a lot of national drivers competing but of the WRC manufacturer entries, there are only a few with experience there.

"On the second day the surface is quite unusual. It is very rough, very bumpy with a lot of high-speed vibrations and for that you really need a strong car - it is a bit of an asphalt safari from that point of view.

"It can also be very slippery on those leg two stages, especially if it's raining. When the roads were used as part of the European Championship we were able to opt for a gravel tyre which was ok but in WRC we are restricted to using only asphalt tyres on tarmac rallies - if it is dry the roads will eat the tyres but if it's wet it will be slippery like hell. There is the potential for a lot of accidents there, especially if it keeps raining like it has been in the last week or so. The other thing is that it is usual to have short shower storms that can last for only 30 minutes for example, which will make tyre choice difficult."

The Rally

The first leg of Rallye Deutschland takes crews into the vineyards for 148.64 competitive kilometres over eight special stages on the banks of the Mosel river. Leg two heads east of Trier into the Baumholder military base which plays host to 158 kilometres of timed tests before crews head southwest to St. Wendel for the 5.81km spectator-friendly superspecial stage to end the day. The final leg covers the remaining 102 kilometres in the countryside surrounding St. Wendel and concludes with a final run of the superspecial stage. Crews return to the Porta Nigra finish ramp in Trier at 16:00hrs. Germany is GMT +2 hours.


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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Freddy Loix , Armin Schwarz , Sven Smeets