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Dinkel/Fürst defy adverse conditions on their debut in France

Rossach, 03-18-2019

The Brose rally team of Dominik Dinkel and Christina Fürst has just one declared goal in the 2019 season: to learn more and gather international experience. That was not made easy for them at the kickoff to the French Asphalt Rally Championship. In their Brose Hyundai i20 R5, which is looked after by Sarrazin Motorsport, they had to contend with slippery routes and a top-flight field.

Just the numbers for the “59th Rally Le Touquet – Pas-de-Calais 2019” are highly impressive: 132 starters, including 22 R5 cars and a WRC of the generation up to 2016. The event attracts top-class pilots, including several famous names from the FIA world championships, as well as the complete armada of French asphalt specialists. They were staging their first championship race by the English Channel between Dieppe and Calais. The program comprised 201.42 kilometers of trials, split over two stages of almost equal length. The Friday, on which racing continues well into the night, consisted of six and the Saturday seven trials that had to be driven in best time.

It rained for days before the rally, and there were also recurring showers during the event. There are no barriers to prevent cutting of corners in France and, where possible, pilots drive with all four wheels next to the narrow tracks. “Those were completely new conditions for us and we had to approach them cautiously to begin with,” said 26-year-old Dominik Dinkel. “We were in a new car, on routes that were sometime totally muddy and with a constantly different grip, so it was extremely difficult to get a feel for the Hyundai i20 and build trust in it.” On the first loop, the accelerator pedal sensor didn’t work correctly and, to cap that, the Brose rally team suffered tire damage on trial 3. “We had to drive two kilometers on the rim before there was space to change the tires. The car was already so close to the ground that we were not even able to position the jack beneath it correctly. In addition, its jack point was totally covered in filth despite the cover.” As a result, several minutes were lost. On top of all that, starting in 19th is not the best of positions to clock fast times.

The Saturday also did not begin perfectly, as the automatic choke needed to be reset. So was it a rally to forget? “No, definitely not. But it was certainly the toughest we’ve ever driven in. We’ve never been so delighted to see the finishing line as here.” And that is absolutely understandable given that 42 percent of the cars failed to finish. “We learned an incredible amount. In the course of the rally, we and the technicians from Sarrazin Motorsport were able to adapt the setup of our Brose Hyundai i20 R5 better to me and achieved greater traction. We managed to cut the gap between us and the best times by half toward the end of the rally. We’re deeply grateful to our sponsors and Michael Stoschek for making this experience possible and look forward to our next outings. After finishing 13th overall, we aim to get among the top ten,” pledged Dominik Dinkel and Christina Fürst full of motivation.