In addition to WRC stars such as Sébastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville, the fans of the ADAC Rallye Deutschland can look forward to meeting another big star of the rallying world this year: Jutta Kleinschmidt, the first and, so far, only female winner of the legendary Dakar rally supports the German WRC event which will take place from 16 to 19 August 2018 in the Saarland and neighbouring regions. In our interview, she talked about her new job as the ADAC Rallye Deutschland brand ambassador, about what makes this event so special and about her expectations.
Ms Kleinschmidt, what does your job as ADAC Rallye Deutschland brand ambassador entail? Which tasks have you already taken on?
In the first year in my capacity as the brand ambassador of the German WRC rally, everything is still new to me and I learn a lot. The organising team is great and everybody knows what they have to do and makes me feel very welcome. I was there when we presented the official itinerary in Saarbrücken and have already attended several on-site meetings. We recently inspected the premises at Bostalsee on whose lakeshores the AUTODOC Service Park is located. Plus, I don't miss an opportunity to represent the ADAC Rallye Deutschland, e.g. at the FIA Women In Motorsport Commission on which I sit.
What is your schedule for the four-day rally? Where will we meet you?
My detailed rally schedule is not yet finalised. The fine-tuning will be in the next few days and weeks. But what I do know so far is that I want to get involved in as many things as possible. Behind the scenes, I will provide organisational support. In addition, I want to spend a lot of time at the track - talking to the fans and media representatives and liaising with the teams. I certainly won't get bored!
What are you most looking forward to?
The complete package. I look forward to meeting many good friends from the international rally and motor sport scene such as Michèle Mouton, who will attend the ADAC Rallye Deutschland. Naturally, I also have a great interest in the rally itself. The start and the first Special Stage in St Wendel will be a real highlight. Lots of action in the vineyards, the Panzerplatte spectacular, the new finale on Sunday - topped off by the throngs of ardent fans and the great atmosphere. It will be a great rally festival.
Having won the Dakar rally, you know how to handle very demanding tasks. What are the greatest challenges the participants in the German WRC rally have to face?
The itinerary of the ADAC Rallye Deutschland is very demanding. The biggest challenge is to prepare yourself for constant change. Conditions vary from Special Stage to Special Stage - and also during one and the same Special Stage. There are different types of pavement, and the pace changes. We will see the drivers negotiate narrow vineyard roads and speed along wide main roads. And there is no room for mistakes. In contrast to a circuit, the drivers have no chance to adapt to the conditions from lap to lap - everything must be perfect right from the start. The challenge will be even bigger in unsettled weather. This has caused quite a few surprises at previous ADAC Rallye Deutschland events.
What skills does it take for a rally driver to win the German WRC rally?
In addition to diverse driving skills, the drivers need a strong mind. The constant change that is typical of the ADAC Rallye Deutschland is an enormous mental challenge. Driver and co-driver must be a good pairing. In particular long stages such as the Panzerplatte SS or the Grafschaft SS on the final day demand extreme attention. Of course, the team and engineering are other decisive factors - the setup, the tyres. But what really makes the difference are the drivers: they must believe in themselves and their vehicles to be able to find the right balance between attack and caution.
After four rallies on gravel, the ADAC Rallye Deutschland will be the first asphalt event. What must the WRC stars do to handle the different conditions?
Of course, every driver has their preferences, but the best of them usually handle the change well. Nevertheless, they prepare meticulously: the top teams normally perform tests on asphalt before the ADAC Rallye Deutschland to develop the best setup. On asphalt roads, grip changes completely, cornering speeds are higher and the general chassis setup becomes stiffer.
As a trained engineer, what do you think about the engineering of today's WRC cars? Which vehicle components must withstand extreme stresses at the ADAC Rallye Deutschland?
I have not yet driven a latest-generation WRC car but find their engineering fascinating. They are powered by very efficient high-performance engines and not really comparable with the vehicles I would use in desert rallies. In my view, the German rally takes a heavy toll on the tyres, chassis and brakes. I really look forward to taking a closer look at all this at the ADAC Rallye Deutschland and to having a chat with the teams' engineers. It's going to be super interesting for me!
And finally, what do you think: who will win the 2018 ADAC Rallye Deutschland?
I am happy for the fans that, with Neuville in the lead ahead of Ogier, the WRC is so exciting at the moment. That's great for rally racing. I do not have a favourite to win the ADAC Rallye Deutschland. We will see how easily the top drivers find their rhythm. The driver who performs best on all four days will earn the win. I would be happy for everyone!
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 Euro 70 (Euro 65 for ADAC members). Day passes are available for Euro 35 exclusively in pre-sale. During the ADAC Rallye Deutschland, the regular price for a rally pass will be Euro 80 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.