The ADAC Rallye Deutschland means four days of top-level motor sport action. Four days, for which Clerk of the Course Friedhelm Kissel and his team put in almost an entire year’s work. This is how complex and comprehensive preparations are for the German WRC event, which also happens to be ADAC’s biggest joint motor sport effort. What makes it even more of a challenge to plan is the ambition to further develop the event each year. Thus, the 2019 ADAC Rallye Deutschland (22 to 25 August) also has plenty of new highlights to offer. In the interview below, Kissel explains the most important novelties and provides some insights into the current work of the planning team.
Mr Kissel, how are your preparations coming along?
Very well. We have successfully completed our basic preparations and everything is right on track. In planning the itinerary, we very closely cooperated – as always – with the communities and the competent authorities. We have all the required authorisations from them and have already submitted our itinerary to the FIA as well. Organisational planning is also running at full throttle. For instance, we recently had a big safety workshop with all Special Stage officers and their deputies. Prior to that, the Marshals received their training.
The rally is only some 100 days away. What are the next specific steps in your preparations?
We are now going more and more into the details. For instance, on the subject of spectator areas, we are still talking with landowners and tenants about a few pieces of land. Another important step, of course, is planning the required manpower. This year, some 2,000 Marshals from all over Germany and nearby countries will be working as volunteers at the ADAC Rallye Deutschland.
What are the most exciting new highlights of the 2019 ADAC Rallye Deutschland?
We are ready to kick off with the first few highlights on Thursday: For the first time, the official opening ceremony will take place in our beautifully located Service Park on the lakeshore of Bostalsee. After that, the action will move straight to a completely new first stage, the St Wendeler Land SS. On Saturday, we have a few surprises in store on the military range. Except for a few short passages – such as the legendary Gina jump – the stage will be run in the opposite direction to last year. The Arena Panzerplatte, which marked the start of the stage in 2018, will be the finish area this year. There will be a lot of recce [reconnaissance] work to do for the teams, because they will have to take notes on approx. 50km of new sections on the military range. And then, on Sunday, we will be by the Mosel river for the Power Stage. So, for the first time ever, the ADAC Rallye Deutschland will be decided in the vineyards.
What made you decide to hold the opening ceremony in the Service Park for the first time?
Holding the opening ceremony in the Service Park will now also give the teams the opportunity to be there live and celebrate along with their entire service personnel and all helpers. It also means the spectators will not have to walk very far. There will be a shuttle service from the car parks to the Service Park which is within perfect walking distance from all the key locations. So, during the day, the fans can attend the Shakedown, then see all the participants on stage in the Service Park and finally look in on the first Special Stage. They can park their cars early in the morning and enjoy the rally all day long.
The first stage is a novelty, too. Would you elaborate on that?
As usual, the drivers will head to the first stage directly after the opening ceremony. Unlike the previous years, however, racing will not kick off with a circuit stage. Rather, the drivers will have to tackle a Super Special Stage with a start and a finish as well as some really challenging passages. The St Wendeler Land SSS will not be far from the Service Park, so that spectators can come directly to the track after the opening ceremony. Another advantage of this stage is that the teams will already have thoroughly acquainted themselves with it during the Shakedown, and they will drive really fast. So, the spectators can really look forward to top-level motor sport from the very first second.
For years, the action on the Baumholder military range has been one of the steady highlights attracting large numbers of spectators. What clinched your decision to change the agenda for the rally Saturday?
The morning and afternoon legs of the rally will take place in different locations. So we will not be at Baumholder until after the lunchtime servicing. This has the big advantage for the spectators that they have to travel much less back and forth. In the morning, the action will focus on the area around St Wendel in the Saarland region and in the afternoon, the spectators will get Panzerplatte galore – with more SS kilometres than the previous year and action into the early night.
Last year, the vineyard stages on Sunday created extra excitement. Now, the Power Stage will also take place among the vines. What are your expectations for this finale?
I have great expectations, and I’m sure that Saturday night’s preliminary result will not be the final result. The stages on Sunday are just too challenging for that. Some 80 kilometres through the vineyards – that’s really tough, and a lot will happen there. Plus, the Drohntal SS as the new Power Stage is a great place to be for the spectators. It has many terraces with optimum visual conditions. The drivers stay in view for a long time and make several appearances. A fantastic finale for everyone!
How did the pass pre-sale get off? Are you satisfied?
Yes, the pre-sale is going very well. Currently, it’s even better than last year. We have also put together some very attractive offers – such as a 30% early bird discount at start of the pre-sale. Also, as usual, passes still cost less in pre-sale than at the on-site ticket offices. There is a choice of either the four-day rally pass or day passes in pre-sale. For instance, starting at ¤25, you can experience the excitement of the first day including the Shakedown, the opening ceremony and the first Special Stage.