Car #26 Final Placing: 19th
AW Rally Team
Driver: Antony Warmbold (D)
Co driver: Gemma Price (GB)
Vehicle: Y3 FMC (Ford Focus WRC02)
Following a good run at the pre-event shakedown, Warmbold was optimistic of a good start in the Rallye Deutschland, however overheating brakes in the first stage saw the start of brake problems that went on to plague the young German for most of the rally. "I lost the pedal in the middle of the stage -- one minute they were fine and the next it was so soft there was virtually nothing there, so I was forced to drive for most of the stage with no brakes at all. The road is very dirty as when the cars ahead cut, they drag loose gravel and dirt onto the road which makes the surface very unpredictable." The team changed all brake discs and pads during the day's first service, however the elusive problem continued, compounded by a run of punctures through the morning. "Five kilometres into the longest stage, SS4, both front tyres punctured and the resulting vibration was so bad that it felt like the dash was going to come loose. The car was very hard to steer and I was fairly tired by the end of the 35 kilometres!" Two spins in the afternoon dashed Warmbold's hopes of better times.
"We had very much improved from the morning and the pace was starting to come, but with tarmac if you spin all you've worked for is gone immediately -- especially in short stages. One spin was in a very narrow piece of road and it took many attempts to get the car facing the right direction -- very frustrating." Warmbold finished Leg One 24th overall.
Warmbold's mysterious brake problem continued to play a part in Leg Two and the team again changed the full set of discs and pads at the morning's second service. "The car is going brilliantly, but it is so frustrating that we've not be able to pinpoint our brake problem. The dirty surface makes it slippery enough without having to be extra cautious under braking." Changing weather conditions saw some stages start dry only to find torrential rain just a few kilometres in, which played havoc with tyre selection.
"Obviously when its dry slicks are the best option but when you suddenly find that the stage is more or less flooding you may as well be driving on ice -- there is no grip at all -- and if you lose it, you lose it!" Again, running further down the order Warmbold encountered a lot of dirt and gravel from the earlier cars. "That combined with the abrasive nature of the surface meant that by the end of a set of stages our tyres were virtually wrecked and we ended up with many punctures again. And just when we thought we were on top of our brake problem, it appeared again in the last set of stages. That, along with our slick tyres, which were the totally wrong choice as all of the last three stages were wet for us, literally made today the worst day of my season so far." Warmbold finished Leg Two 20th overall.
Warmbold was again plagued by brake problems during the morning stages. "It is more than frustrating for the whole team as we have been unable to identify the problem. We again changed the brake discs and pads at service this morning and with any luck this will see us right through the final set of stages for the day, but this problem has been the focus of our attention for most of the weekend -- not good for a rally where concentration is foremost." Despite the niggling problems of the weekend, Warmbold was pleased to finish the Rallye Deutschland 19th overall, and is looking forward to getting back on gravel for the Rally Finland in two weeks time.
Car#28 Final Placing: 23rd
Mimex - Charouz Racing Systems
Driver: Tibor Cserhalmi (CZ)
Co Driver: Jaroslav Palivec (CZ)
Vehicle: S10 FMC (Ford Focus RS WRC00)
21 year-old Cserhalmi, competing for the second time on the Rallye Deutschland, was very cautious in his approach to the daunting mix of stages. "With the format different this year, combining a variety of surfaces each day, we were very conscious of taking some clean lines and taking more of a smooth approach to the morning. We we're hoping to set comparable times to both Kopecky and Warmbold over the weekend and were very pleased with our times." Happy with the set up of their Ford Focus and their tyre choice the team had few problems though the day. "Our only moment was in SS3, when I realised I was going too quickly into a corner, so rather than try anything silly I chose to go off into the safety area and only lost about five seconds." During the final stage of the day, the Super Special at St Wendel, the duo noticed a noise coming from the gearbox.
"We were just a kilometre in when there was a loud clunking sound and we immediately knew something was wrong with the gearing. Thankfully it didn't stop us from finishing the stage and the team was confident of us being able to make it to the first service the following morning in order to find the cause." The team was correct and Cserhalmi completed Leg One 23rd overall.
The team were able to identify that a second gear tooth had broken and completed a gearbox change in just 16 minutes at the first service of the day. Despite not feeling well after waking with a slight head cold and sore throat, Cserhalmi went on to set some good times on the first two stages of the day. "The car is working very well and I have no complaints at all! We went out on immediate tyres this morning as the conditions were damp and rain was forecast, although the second stage was much dryer than I anticipated so was a little slower because of our tyres." The Czech had little problems until SS13, the second run through the longest stage of the day. "About half way through we had a front puncture which literally shredded the tyre immediately, causing a lot of damage to the front left of the car and leaving us with only a rim within a matter of seconds. We were forced to run very slowly through the stage and lost about seven minutes in total -- it was very disappointing as we had been going so well." Cserhalmi completed Leg Two 23rd overall.
Illness plagued the team this morning with Cserhalmi's co-driver Palivec not only waking up with a sore throat but realising he had also lost his voice, resulting in the duo having to tackle the remaining six stages by sight only without the assistance of pace notes. "It was very tricky, as you have to be 110% thinking as it is, so not having pace notes has made it difficult for us this morning. Palivec has been doing his best to help using hand signals but it is not ideal!" Cserhalmi's aim for Leg Three was to keep fellow Czech Kopecky behind him on the final day. "Unfortunately that was not to be, but we are happy to have finished this event for the second year in a row. Our Focus has been excellent throughout and our only major problem was Palivec losing his voice this morning -- it has been strange with it being so quiet in the car!" Cserhalmi completed the Rallye Deutschland 23rd overall. The team are now preparing for their next outing at the Rally Slovakia in two weeks time.
Car #36 Final Placing: DNF
Driver: Alistair Ginley
Co Driver: Rory Kennedy
Vehicle: EJ02 KMO (Ford Focus RS WRC01)
Sponsors: Carella, Pirelli
Despite it being his first tarmac outing for a year, Ginley was optimistic leading up to the event, very happy with both the recce and the performance of his Ford Focus during the shakedown. "The only change I have made to the car has been to increase the size of my 'sponsorship wanted' decals as the smaller ones haven't worked yet!" Ginley opted for a cautious start, easing into the event. "Unfortunately despite the fact that everything is working well and we are making good tyre choices, I just can't seem to find any speed. I guess it is to be expected really, as it's been such a long time since my last tarmac outing, but it is really frustrating as I can't work out why the speed isn't coming." Dirt and gravel dragged onto the road by cars running higher up the order didn't help. "We have been sliding around a lot on the surface -- it's been very hard to find some grip. As a result I have been driving too aggressively for the conditions and my tyres are suffering as we are losing a lot of rubber. We had a real moment this afternoon where we spun on a very narrow downhill section and almost went backwards off the edge -- literally stopping just as we were about to go over -- it wasn't a very nice sensation at all! We ended up facing the wrong direction and it seemed to be the longest 30 seconds of my life as we were blocking the stage and trying to manoeuvre to a safer area where we could turn around. All I could think was hurry, there's a car running one minute behind us -- and we only just managed to get out of their way in time." Ginley completed Leg One 29th overall.
Choosing to run on intermediate tyres due to the unpredictable weather conditions, Ginley found the stage surfaces very greasy during the morning of Leg Two. "There was a lot of mud on the road from the cars in front and it was wet and slippy under the trees. It seemed that every time I touched the brakes they locked." While still frustrated by being unable to find a rhythm in his car, he was much happier as the day wore on. " Our times are starting to improve and we are getting used to the changing conditions between the open roads and those in the forests." However their luck wasn't to hold and the duo's rally came to an abrupt halt on SS11 -- falling victim to one of the large boulders that line the Baumholder roads. "I left the braking late and unfortunately the car just slid straight for one of the boulders. I put the car sideways to try and minimise the damage, but the rear clipped one and spun us front-on into the next - damaging the radiator and sump. While the physical damage to the car would not have stopped us from continuing, the impact unfortunately damaged the oil cooler, emptying our oil on the road -- it was very disappointing for us both." The team spent the remainder of the weekend rebuilding the car ready for its next outing, the Rally Finland, in two weeks time.