Munich. Organising the ADAC Rallye Deutschland is a mammoth task. Only a few days after the 2017 winning driver Ott Tänak (Ford) had stepped down from the podium, Friedhelm Kissel started to prep for the 2018 event. Ever since, the Clerk of the Course and his team have been working almost around the clock to ensure that the German event of the FIA World Rally Championship will run as smoothly as in the previous years. In the interview, Kissel speaks about the current status of the preparations, the upcoming challenges and the highlights of the spectacular motor sport event which is scheduled to take place between 16 and 19 August 2018 in the Saarland and neighbouring regions.
Mr Kissel, how are your preparations coming along?
Very well. We're perfectly on schedule in every respect. Cooperation with the competent authorities and agencies is very good. Some approvals are still pending, e.g. by the road traffic authorities who have to give the go ahead for alternative routes and road closures during the event. The 2018 itinerary includes 18 Special Stages and covers over 300km - this will give you a vague idea of how time-consuming and complex it is to get it all together.
The rally is only some 2.5 months away. What are the next steps in your preparations?
We've already passed the important milestones: we got the OK for the itinerary. What's next is to work out the details such as where to put the spectator areas. While we finalised the greater part of the planning, we still need to deal with the details of some new sections. In the next few weeks, we will talk with landowners and tenants of areas which would make great spectator areas, for instance.
How many people do you have in your organising team? Who is in it?
There's a closer circle of nearly 20 people in charge of planning, most of them volunteers who give many hours of their free time. During the rally, the number of volunteers will rise to approx. 3,000 - in my view, they belong to the organising team of the ADAC Rallye Deutschland, too. Planning mostly involves two tasks: track safety and spectator safety. Here, we rely on experienced professionals.
The rally driver Jutta Kleinschmidt was appointed the first brand ambassador of the ADAC Rallye Deutschland. How do you involve her in your preparations? How does your cooperation work?
I've known Jutta for a very long time and from many events - and she was behind the wheel of the zero car at the ADAC Rallye Deutschland once. I appreciate her wealth of experience, and she is a real asset for the German WRC rally. Also because of her great international reputation and extensive network. As regards partners and sponsors, she is an outspoken advocate who will contribute towards increasing the popularity of the ADAC Rallye Deutschland. Having joined us only a few weeks ago, she has not yet been involved in the planning of the itinerary, but we will certainly benefit from her expertise in the next years.
What are the most exciting new highlights of the 2018 ADAC Rallye Deutschland?
I really look forward to the new prologue in St Wendel. This is going to be a real highlight on a nice circuit course where there is plenty of space for the rally drivers to speed up and drift. The area affords prime views for the spectators. Another highlight is the new Panzerplatte stage on Saturday which will be covered live on TV. There, we will also see the teams tackle the legendary Gina jump. This will certainly be spectacular for both the spectators along the track and the fans following the event on TV. The Sunday's innovation is the return to the vineyard roads in the Mosel area which, together with the final Power Stage, will provide a grand finale.
The opening ceremony, first SS and podium ceremony will take place in St Wendel. What challenges in terms of logistics do you face?
Of course, hosting the start and finish of a WRC event is an enormous task for a town the size of St Wendel. However, they are very experienced in organising major international events. The town and its residents are great sport enthusiasts and looking forward to the ADAC Rallye Deutschland. As regards concrete organisational arrangements, St Wendel was a good choice, making some things easier for us. I am confident that we will celebrate a great rally festival.
On the final day, the rally will return to the vineyards. Why?
Our aim is to keep the excitement in the ADAC Rallye Deutschland until the last car passes the finish line. This is why we decided to introduce very challenging stages before the Power Stage. In the Grafschaft SS, the drivers will tackle 30 kilometres of tight vineyard roads with tricky hairpin turns - twice in immediate succession. Handling this without making mistakes is extremely tough on even the top drivers.
How about the start of the pass pre-sale? Are you satisfied?
We're very satisfied. So far, sales are clearly up over the previous year. For me, this positively signals that rally sport is becoming increasingly popular in Germany.
Do you have a tip for the spectators of the ADAC Rallye Deutschland?
There are highlights on each day of the rally. A plus for the fans is that with the stages being relatively close together, they can go to several places - the prologue in St Wendel on Thursday or the vineyards and the Wadern-Weiskirchen circuit stage on Friday. Saturday's Panzerplatte stage is a definite must for everyone, and Sunday will be another action-packed day in the vineyards and at the final Bosenberg SS. Hence, my ultimate tip is to get a four-day pass!
Get your rally and day passes in pre-sale now!
Passes for the ADAC Rallye Deutschland are available from the official ticket shop on the web: go to www.adac.de/rallye-deutschland (under the Tickets tab) to get your four-day rally passes or day tickets (Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday). Pre-sale buyers will enjoy discounts and an attractive package offer that includes the official event magazine. Just like last year, the pre-sale price of a rally pass package is EUR70 (EUR65 for ADAC members). Day passes are available for EUR35 exclusively in pre-sale. During the ADAC Rallye Deutschland, the regular price for a rally pass will be EUR80 at all on-site sales points.
The rally passes cover:
• Access to all Special Stages on all days
• Access to the AUTODOC Service Park on all days
• Access to the Shakedown on Thursday
• A spectator map providing all the essential information about the rally
• ADAC Rallye Deutschland lanyard
• ADAC Rallye Deutschland sticker
• ADAC Rallye Deutschland magazine (in German with essential information in English and French)
ADAC Rallye Deutschland information:
The ADAC Rallye Deutschland has a unique worldwide reputation. Its mix of hairpin stages in the vineyards, tough tracks on the Baumholder tank range and fast asphalt roads presents extreme challenges for both the teams and the drivers. Excellent driving skills and versatility are of the essence here. Diversity, high-class action and closeness to the fans are the ingredients that make the ADAC Rallye Deutschland such an attractive package for spectators as well. Year after year, this major event draws enthusiastic crowds from all over Europe, giving it a special, international atmosphere.