The Event Just ten days after returning home from Rally Finland, drivers will embark on the tenth round of the 2002 World Rally Championship next Thursday when they cross the start ramp to begin Rally Deutschland. Rally Deutschland is a...
Just ten days after returning home from Rally Finland, drivers will embark on the tenth round of the 2002 World Rally Championship next Thursday when they cross the start ramp to begin Rally Deutschland.
Rally Deutschland is a compact and challenging tarmac event based in the countryside around the ancient Roman City of Trier. Although it has been running since 1982, this year will be the first time it has been included in the WRC calendar.
The rally presents competitors with a variety of stage conditions, both from the point of view of the scenery, as well as the road surface. Crews will start on Friday by tackling sections right in the heart of the Mosel vineyard region. The stages feature plenty of tight corners and straight high-speed runs. For Saturday the action moves to the broken tarmac surface of the private military area at Baumholder, while Sunday's leg includes two passes through a five kilometre super special stage on a smooth track at St Wendel.
The event covers 415 competitive kilometres over 23 special stages. There will be two separate service parks: For leg one teams will be based at the Trier Messepark before moving to an area at Bostalsee for legs two and three. Rally HQ will be based at the Ramada hotel in Trier for the entire event.
The 555 Subaru World Rally Team will enter four cars in the rally. Regular Impreza pilots Tommi Mäkinen and Petter Solberg will be joined by Austrian signing Achim Mörtl, who is the team's third points nominated entrant. Japan's leading rally driver Toshihiro Arai will drive a fourth WRC2002.
Tommi Makinen: "It's a new rally, and one I think I'll like quite a lot. If you were to make comparisons with the other tarmac rounds I think it's most similar to Monte Carlo - although hopefully not quite so cold. There's a lot of variation in the road surface, and while in Monte Carlo there's snow and ice to be careful of, in Germany you have to watch for patches of loose gravel - especially on the second day. But that's not so much of a problem for me, I think I've got quite a good feeling for those conditions. I feel very confident after the test, and am very positive about next week."
Petter Solberg: "I'm feeling very good since the result in Finland and I am so confident now. We had a clean rally without any problems at all and we now feel completely ready for Germany. I feel very positive. I can't say what the key is to having a good Germany Rally, as I haven't done the event before. Most of the other drivers are in the same position as its new but Marcus [Gronholm], Francois [Delecour], and Phillipe [Bugalski] have a bit of an advantage as they did the rally last year."
Achim Mortl: "The car is feeling fine, I am happy with everything and I am really looking forward to this event. My main priority for Germany is to get used to the car and the competition and to get some mileage in the car. We will not have a chance to compare times with the opposition until shakedown. I think that after three or four stages I should be able to set some good times. By Sanremo we should be absolutely fine with the car and be able to aim for a points finish."
Toshihiro Arai: "I did the recce last year so I have some knowledge of the road. The first day the roads are normal tarmac but by day two you get some very strange roads - they are almost concrete with many junctions and hairpins. It will be a very difficult rally as there are so many changes in the surface. You will go from a very wide high speed section to a narrow and twisty section in a small amount of time. Tyre choice is going to be vital but very difficult. I would like to think we can finish in the top ten."
The Challenge / The Car
555 Subaru Team Principal, David Lapworth said:
"With limited experience at this event, finding the right tyre will be one of the keys to doing well in Germany. The event poses an interesting combination of high temperatures and smooth roads which is quite rare, while the number of corners included on this rally is far higher than on normal asphalt events which tend to be more flowing. In Germany there are a lot of long straights with connecting tight corners which need to be taken in first or second gear - the competing cars will almost be drag racing!"
"Since the last asphalt event in Spain, we have been working with Pirelli to create new compounds and new constructions for Germany. We've also been working to develop other areas of the car, specific to this event, including the its transmission, set-up and the brakes."
Between the Rallies
With less than a week at home in between events, Tommi Makinen and Petter Solberg have taken it easy. Tommi has spent time at his home(s) in Finland relaxing with his family whilst Petter has been training and resting at home in Norway.
Achim Mortl has been preparing for his works-team debut by keeping up an intensive fitness programme. He flew out to Finland last week to meet the team and get used to his new service area. He is currently spending some time with the team in the UK before flying to Germany on Sunday.
Since Toshi Arai's last 555 SWRT appearance in Kenya he has spent time testing for the German Rally and returned to Japan for a two-week holiday with his family.