RALLYE DEUTSCHLAND – Aug 20th – 22nd, Round 10
Three rallies in one, as the rally uses stages of three different characters The vine clad valleys of the Mosel wine region play host to some very tricky and narrow stages that climb and drop down the valley sides. The Baumholder army ranges challenge the crews with muddy, concrete tracks bordered by car wrecking anti tank boulders (hinkelsteins), whilst the stages around St Wendel are gently undulating country roads more akin to the borders of Scotland. Both the variety of stages and the newness of the event to the WRC calendar make this a fascinating and open event.
Crowds are large, as the event is central to many countries and the marshalling draconian. However, the spectators tend to flock to the (well) organised spectator points, which seem to have more beer than food vendors. This leaves many areas of the stages quiet, yet easily accessed.
The action is fast and furious with the Mosel valley stages being possibly the most visually stunning of the calendar. Viewing from the Panoramastrabe, on the valleys edge, above the town of Niederemmel, is simply breathtaking. The cars drive past your nose before descending down through the vines and a series of tight hairpins. Remaining in sight for 2-3 km, whilst the Mosel River meanders serenely in the background Competing on tarmac tyres over the ranges and the mud strewn corners of Panzerplatte, is also a sight to behold.
Trier – an ancient Roman town in the wine region.
The rally’s base is Trier, which is the oldest city in Germany dating back to the Roman Empire. Many buildings and ruins herald back to the Romans with the Porta Negra (circa 200AD) giving an interesting backdrop to the events ceremonial start and finish. During the rally, Porta Negra hosts a wine festival offering local delicacies and sparkling wines of the region, whilst jazz bands play on stage every evening. A university town, Trier has all the trademarks of a lively town with many places to experience German hospitality. A vast array of locally brewed pils beer and schnitzels that can satisfy any rally fans thirst and appetite after a day on the stages.
Loeb is King of the Vineyards
The young French star, Sebastian Loeb took a stunning maiden WRC victory in 2002 and repeated it in 2003. However the new 307 and the (now) more reliable Focus are likely to have the edge over the Citroen in 2004.