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Monte Carlo

Brose Motorsport: No luck at the Monte Carlo Historique Rally

Monte Carlo, 02-05-2019

The participation of Michael Stoschek and Hanns Werner Wirth, who was co-piloting him for the first time, in a 1975 Lancia Stratos Gr. 4 at this year’s Monte Carlo Rally was overshadowed by technical problems and adversities.

Even before they set off from Bad Homburg, a faulty seal in the exhaust manifold caused problems. In addition, the connector of the extra lights did not work and had to be replaced. The high beam, including the extra lights, failed during the night on the more than 1,000 kilometer journey to France, forcing the service crew had to carry out extensive repair work on the steering column unit.

The first trial on the Saturday over 49 kilometers was a big challenge for the team on account of the extremely slippery conditions due to packed snow and poor visibility. An incorrect instruction by the co-pilot meant Stoschek took a wrong turning at a fork after 15 kilometers, and they only noticed the mistake when they ended up at a farm. The additional 2.5 kilometer stretch they had to cover resulted in a huge time penalty, despite the fact that Stoschek overtook four participants at high speed in order to get back on track to achieve the required average pace. As a result, the duo finished 205th out of 318 participants who had started.

The second trial over 22.5 kilometers went smoothly and with small time deviations and ended with the team finishing 22nd. Unfortunately, the service bus then also veered off the road and landed in a ditch. Fortunately, the mechanics remained unscathed.

The third trial on the Sunday was over a distance of 57 kilometers. The tires for the first dry section proved to be the wrong choice for the long snow and ice passages and so Stoschek lost a lot of time. Trial number four then went very well and the duo incurred few penalty points. Trials six and seven were canceled due to the fact that the roads were impassable.

Snowfall continued to impair visibility on the Monday. On trial number seven (18.1 kilometers), the Brose Team first encountered a snowplough coming the other way, then two trailers blocked the road and the Stratos got bogged down in the soft ground at the side of the road and needed various attempts to get free. Trials eight and nine were canceled because the roads were impassable, so the time was used to carry out various repairs. The windshield wiper motor, rev-counter and other displays had failed. Guido Brasch found the short-circuit in the motor and repaired it.

Yet the adversities continued: The heat generated by the strong bulbs caused cables to burn through, with the result that the low beam failed. The steering column switch was replaced again to remedy that. These repairs took a total of 1.5 hours – too long for the car to reach the next time control on time. “Our service crew is in action all day and does a superb job,” said Michael Stoschek in praise of the four mechanics’ efforts.

On trial ten, Stoschek and Wirth caught up with a Fiat and drove behind it for around 10 kilometers without overtaking: “It was clear to us that the rally was over, as we had lost any chance on the very first trial. But we wanted to carry on and enjoy the ‘Night of the Long Knives’ from Monaco.”

Then, on Tuesday morning, the bitter decision was taken to withdraw from the race. The fuel lines run below the hot exhaust manifold and, as Michael Stoschek explains: “We didn’t want to risk the car catching fire. Moreover, the repairs yesterday took so long that we may have been disqualified from the competition.”

“The Monte Carlo Historique Rally isn’t our event,” was how a disappointed Michael Stoschek sportingly summed things up. When the 2006 European FIA Historic Rally champion took part in 2015 and 2016, various problems on the co-pilot’s side prevented him from fulfilling his expectations.

“Our Marlboro Stratos was the darling of the spectators and they would have loved to see us on the final loop. We thank everyone who kept their fingers crossed for us along the course and at home, and in particular our magnificent service team, which rectified all the defects apart from the porous exhaust manifold,” said Michael Stoschek and Hanns Werner Wirth.