With the pressure taken off them in the battle for the German Rally Championship, the team of Dinkel/Kohl lined up at the Weiz Rally in Austria last weekend to gather experience on challenging terrain. And with success: They came fourth overall and were the best foreign starters, the second-best participants in an R5 car, the best Skoda pilots and the best Weiz Rally rookies in 2017.
The FIA European Rally Trophy Central (ERTC) and Austria National Championship attracted a top-flight, international field to Weiz. 85 teams, including three technically superior WRC cars, tackled the 14 trials over a distance of 178.16 kilometers.
The objective of Dinkel and Kohl was to gain experience and work on the Skoda Fabia’s setup under competitive conditions together with the Baumschlager service team. The team used the Friday to test a wide range of different chassis settings and stabilizers. That proved to be difficult initially, since Dinkel/Kohl first had to adapt to the special conditions in Austria. The challenges facing them included the route with its flurry of bends without any significant straights and a constantly changing level of grip on the tar surfaces.
Nevertheless, the two Germans ended the Friday in sixth place and were consistently among the top eight teams. They were even the fourth-quickest on the around 18-kilometer circuit.
They increased the pace sharply on the Saturday, soon climbing to fifth overall and finishing all trials among the five fastest. They twice clocked the third-best time and were twice the quickest R5 pilots. The team used the rain that began to fall to test new tires and a combination of hard and soft rubber compounds. With success: On the 9.7 kilometer Naas I circuit, they were just 8.7 seconds behind the best mark set by the reigning Austrian champion Hermann Neubauer in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC. The team even ended the second lap on the final trial with the second-best time of the entire field.
Dinkel’s verdict was a positive one: “We tried out and learned an incredible amount of things, especially on the first day of the rally. We were then able to put our findings into practice on the Saturday. One especially pleasing aspect for us is that we lost just 12.3 seconds over the highly respected Niki Mayr-Melnhof in a Ford Fiesta R5. The local hero carved out most of his overall lead on the Friday while we were still exploring the limits to what we could do.”
Christina Kohl adds: “We first had to adapt my existing system of making notes and so the speed at which I give prompts to what were completely new conditions. That clicked pretty well from around midway through the rally.”
The two pilots believe the decision to forgo the Rally of Germany and instead take part in the two rallies in Weiz and Liezen is the right one. “The trials in Austria are ideal for us to train, test things and develop further,” notes Kohl.
With this boost to their confidence, Dinkel/Kohl are now looking forward to the next race in the German Rally Championship (DRM). It will be held around Pößneck in Thuringia on August 4 and 5.