A close three-way battle between the race winners so far.

All former rally winners of the ongoing season of the Deutsche Rallye Meisterschaft [German motor rally championship series (DRM)] came face to face for the first time in Rallye Vogelsberg. The leading team of Hermann Gassner Jr./Ursula Mayrhofer driving a Mitsubishi also competed in the Hessian town of Schlitz along with Mark Wallenwein/Stefan Kopczyk in a Skoda and Ruben & Thomas Zeltner in a Porsche. For Gassner Jr. the approach was clear right after the inspection: “Charge! We would have to go to the limit in every trial to be able to have any chance at winning here.”

Gassner Jr. stuck to his word, for his decisions in all the four Friday trials turned out in his favour. However, the distance between him and the runners-up was quite small. Wallenwein was behind by a mere 6.6 seconds. “So far, so good.  Our tactics are working; however, we have to give it our best. We are eagerly looking forward to tomorrow’s race”, co-driver Mayrhofer says on record.

The fast country roads of the Saturday morning loop played into the hands of Ruben Zeltner and his Porsche. He set three best times and pushed forward to the second overall rank just a little behind Wallenwein. Gassner Jr. maintained his top position with a nine-second lead. “In the afternoon we have a higher gravel section; that should be a bit in our favour”, says Hermann in the pit stop.

With two more best times the German/Austrian duo extended the lead to almost 19 seconds during the course of the afternoon. However, the eyes of all participants were turned towards the sky. “It looks like rain. One should, therefore, not be too sure of the final ranking yet”, the leader feared. Wallenwein went out for broke and chose slicks for the last bend despite the gathering rain clouds. Gassner Jr. relied on an intermediate, a compromise between dry weather and wet weather tyres.  This type of tyre was the right choice and thus the team could drive home the overall victory. “The last trial again called for our best performance. Beating rain, lot of aquaplaning and gravel passages full of sludge. I am glad to be at the finishing line now! I am very pleased about the fact that we could extend our lead further despite the difficult conditions and maintain our leading position throughout the event”, said a visibly satisfied Gassner Jr.. “I thank my team, which yet again serviced our vehicle with utmost meticulousness, perfection and care.”

The three-way competition for the German motor rally championship crown continues this week. The next round is scheduled to take place in Sulingen. Along with Gassner Jr., Wallenwein and Zeltner many other top-class guest starters from Holland will muscle in with their high-powered racing cars. The Gassner Jr./Mayrhofer team has only one motto: “Full throttle!”

(Photo: RBHahn)