Michael Stoschek (Ahorn) and co-pilot Kurt Schimitzek (Kreuth) experienced how narrow the dividing line is between joy and sorrow at the 2015 Monte-Carlo Historique Rally.
Stoschek has successfully competed in international rallying with historical vehicles for many years and was European champion in 2006. However, the Monte-Carlo Historique is a special event where a defined speed must be adhered to all the time. Yet when the required speed is 50 km/h and the tight mountain roads with numerous hairpin bends are covered with snow and ice, then you have to take your courage in your hands and step on the gas – and even then it is hardly possible to keep to the average speed given the many unknown measurement points.
The 18th Monte-Carlo Historique Rally from January 28 to February 4, 2015, was open to vehicles manufactured up to 1979 and this time there was an exceptional amount of snow. That meant good knowledge of the route, but above all suitable tires, were crucial success factors, especially since several trials had to be completed at night. 317 teams lined up at the start, setting off from Glasgow, Reims, Copenhagen, Barcelona and Turin.
Stoschek/Schimitzek decided to start from Turin and drove 788 kilometers through the first night to the re-start in Monaco. The total length of the rally for the two Germans was thus 2,343 kilometers, of which 428 kilometers had to be driven on the 14 special trials.
Michael Stoschek lined up in a very special vehicle: one of the two original works cars used by Porsche at the 1972 Monte Carlo Rally with the drivers Gérard Larrousse and Björn Waldegaard. Even back then, the 2-5-liter engine was capable of 270 hp. However, whether that can be achieved with ice and snow on the ground is mainly a question of the tires.
Stoschek had last participated in the modern Monte Carlo Rally in 2000 in a Mitsubishi Lancer and so did not have any knowledge of the trials. However, what he lacked most of all were the special winter competition tires, with which the participants in the leading group were fitted and which offer considerably more traction on snow and ice.
Various mechanical and electronic measurement instruments are required to keep to the prescribed speed. These had been installed in Stoschek’s Porsche by the Brose Motorsport mechanics and were operated professionally by co-pilot Kurt Schimitzek.
Due to the limited grip of the driven wheels on smooth surfaces and during drifting in bends, the difference in the instance covered by front and rear axle was up to 1.5 kilometers on a trial. The co-pilot has to compensate for this difference on his instruments.
The lack of traction of the winter tires meant that Stoschek was not able on several occasion to keep to the required pace. The Service team even had to put snow chains on the Porsche for the almost 25-kilometer La Cime du Mas/Saint-Nazaire-en-Royans trial.
On the largely dry Puget-Théniers/Tourette over 31 kilometers, Stoschek was then able to finish 2nd overall and came 6th in the 53-kilometer final trial La Bollène/Sospel Vésubie, which took participants over the Col de Turini.
The Brose team fell completely out of the classification on the longest trial, the 60 kilometers from Saint Pierreville to Le Cheylard: after taking a wrong turning and returning to the right route, Stoschek had to overtake two participants to achieve the correct positon again. “Whereas the first driver had the fairness to make way, a Swiss Alfa Romeo pilot hardly helped and even pulled out to the left when we were level with him. I had to evade him by going into deep snow and ended up in a ditch. Luckily, a spectator’s car was nearby and pulled us backed on to the track, but we were 11 minutes behind time at the finish,” said a disappointed Stoschek about his 232nd place in this trial.
When the two Germans crossed the finishing ramp in Mote Carlo harbor at around 2 in the morning on February 4, they had – including a time penalty caused by a road closure in a village – achieved an overall ranking of 86th, 17th in the category of car built between 1966 and 1971 and 4th in the class above 2 liters.
Michael Stoschek’s wrap: “The event’s mode was new to me, but the Monte Carlo is definitely one of the most fascinating rallies there is and demands true endurance. Of course, we’re rankled about coming away empty-handed from the winners’ ceremony of the ACM, the world’s oldest and most distinguished automobile club. If I do take part next year, then only with better preparation. I would drive the trials beforehand and above all obtain the right tires for ice and snow.”