Safari atmosphere for the 2012 Eifel Rallye Festival
BOSCH Super Stage with 20 original cars from Safari-Rallye
Those thousands of rally fans who have already experienced the many delights of the Eifel Rally Festival at its inaugural event in 2011 can now count on having even more to take in when they return for the 2012 edition. It may not be possible to transport a part of East Africa to the German Eifel, but the Festival organisers are doing their best to find a way to celebrate the tenth year since the last 'proper' WRC Safari Rally was held.
To start with, twenty original cars that competed on Safari rallies will be at the Festival and an extra special stage has been created so they - and any of the other hundred or so old rally cars that will be demonstrating in the main part of the Festival - can show off their gravel road abilities. This new stage, sponsored by Bosch, is in the form of a circuit on gravel roads that includes a jump and a water crossing as well as some fast open corners where the sideways action can be prolonged.
There are two further things about this new Bosch Super Stage. It is not as rough as the normal African roads encountered on a Safari Rally, and it does have remarkably comprehensive - and safe - viewing for spectators who will be able to watch the cars round a large proportion of the course. The Clerk of the Course, Hubert Böffgen says that : "Thanks to natural grandstands, if they are standing in one of the designated spectator areas, the spectators will be able to see two kilometres of the stage."
This Bosch Super Stage will be held on the Friday afternoon prior to the first tarmac stage at Sarmersbach that then runs on into the night. More good news is that the two stages are reasonably close together so that spectators will not necessarily be faced with a long car journey to move between them. And there is food and drink available in Sarmersbach.
Commenting on this addition of a Safari stage to the Eifel Rallye Festival, the chief organiser, Peter Schlömer, said : "It was ten years ago, in 2002, that the Safari Rally was last a part of the World Rally Championship. We now want to remember this fascinating rally and its unique challenges that were presented to the cars and drivers taking part."
The Festival owes its whole existence to the Slowly Sideways Group, an informal organisation run by famous rally photographer, Reinhard Klein and his family whose raison d'être is to preserve and restore old rally cars. Slowly Sideways members attend several major rallies during the year - including WRC events like the Deutschland Rally - and demonstrate their cars to remind people of what rallying used to be like. The ethos of the group is explained thus by Reinhard Klein : "On most historic events, you see cars with a classic shape but with modern technologies underneath. That is not what we want. The aim of the Slowly Sideways group is to show historic rally cars on closed stages in a state true to the original and in their 'natural habitat'. We not only check the livery of the cars but also their interior, the engine and so on. Furthermore, our aim is to show the great diversity of the sport with as many different models as possible."
There is room for one hundred and twenty old rally cars to enter the Festival and already the available slots are filling up. And it is not just the cars that will on display in the town of Daun and on the stages. Several rally stars have already committed to be there with the event's patron and double World Rally Champion, Walter Röhrl, being joined by ex-European Champion, Jochi Kleint, and Harald Demuth and Sepp Haider both of whom have won the German title. Christian Geistdörfer - Röhrl's World Championship co-driver and member of the Festival organising committee - said recently that : "We are in contact with further former WRC drivers and are also trying to encourage various manufacturers to enter cars on our event. So I am sure there will be some surprises to come on the entry list."
The timetable of the Eifel Rally Festival is as follows
17.00 - 20.00 Shakedown for all cars at Neichen
from 20.00 Open-air cinema with the films of Helmut Deimel
09.30 - 13.30 Scrutineering on the Rally Mile in Daun town centre
from 14.30 Bosch Super Stage (gravel)
in the evening Night stage at Sarmersbach (tarmac)
08.00 - 18.00 Tarmac stages in the Vulkaneifel
from 19.00 Rally party for all with the band 'Jimmy Beat