Austria : Rally Waldviertel - Finish
Three victories out of seven competing drivers was more than the OMV Teams could have hoped for at the OMV Rally Waldviertel. Hungarian Balasz Benik proved to be the man of the rally by winning 12 of 16 super stages at the wheel of his
Ford Focus WRC 03 and outclassing his opponents.
Aaron Burkart of the OMV Junior Team once again showed his talent by taking the laurels in his class (A 6) and reaching a good 13th place in the overall ranking. Czech OMV driver Stepan Vojtech was in third place in group N until a problem with the turbo on the last special stage caused him to drop back to fifth place. And Austrian Beppo Harrach not only surpassed his professed goal – a top ten place – by finishing in sensational 5th place but also superiorly triumphed with the CNG Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI in the class of alternative and diesel cars.
In his own league
Balasz Benik was definitely the man of the rally at the OMV Rally Waldviertel. The Hungarian in the Ford Focus WRC 03 started at the top and finished just there. He took 12 of 16 special stage wins and triumphed by a lead of 1:29,8 on runner-up Raimund Baumschlager. Even heavy rainfall at the beginning of leg two couldn't stop him.
“Too bad that I had a puncture on SS 13 which caused me to lose two best times,” was the only complaint of the Hungarian OMV driver. But in the end Benik was still full of praise for the Waldviertel: “I really feel at home here. And I and my car were in top form. And the whole team was perfect, too, of course.”
Luck, bad luck and perseverance
Aaron Burkart of the OMV Junior Team hadn't been too happy about his too conservative tyre choice on day one – and the fact that, as he said: “This is no real gravel rally.”
On leg two he chose softer tyres for the Citroen C2 Super 1600 due to the higher gravel percentage of the special stages and his luck and joy of drifting on gravel improved.
Following the retirement of Martin Prokop (CZ) on SS 8 he took the lead in his class (A 6) and brought it securely across the finish line more than 1,30 minutes in front of Josef Petak. “It was still a pity that Prokop dropped out. The real challenge was to compete with him. After he had retired things almost got a little too easy,” said the OMV driver.
Czech OMV driver Stepan Vojtech hadn't been happy about the conditions, especially the constant change from tarmac to gravel, at the rally. Fortunately the problem of overheating tyres on the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX lessened on Saturday thanks to the increased gravel surface and Vojtech remained in third place in group N until fate struck on the last special stage. “I had a problem with the turbocharger and couldn't keep up the speed,” says Vojtech. But in the end he didn't mind too much that he dropped back to seventh overall place since, as he added: “It was great fun driving on gravel.” In any case, the OMV driver was able to leave the rally of his main sponsor with his head held high.
Beppo Harrach, in some ways, also was the man of the OMV Rally Waldviertel. The Austrian had come to the Waldviertel with the main goals of scoring a top ten place with the CNG Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI and proving that a gas-driven car can be competitive. And he surpassed these goals by far. In the overall ranking he finished in sensational fifth place and additionally superiorly won the class of alternative and diesel cars by a lead of 11.27,1 minutes on Michael Böhm in the Fiat Stilo JTD – thereby taking all SS best times.
“I am very proud of the times I drove but also of my car which proved its potential,” smiled Harrach. All this despite problems with a constantly overheating engine during the special stages. Said the OMV driver: “It began right on special stage one and continued throughout the rally. Which had us continually lose power, therefore we tried to attack on the shorter stages and tried to take it easier on the longer ones.” In the end, these tactics definitely paid off.
Vladan Petrovic (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI) from Serbia, who had competed in the OMV Rally Waldviertel for the first time, finished in good 15th place in his class and in 22nd overall place.
Bulgarian OMV driver Vilhelm Kanchev completed an excellent rally in his Peugeot 206 Super 1600 and reached the podium as third-placed in class A 6.
Rally Waldviertel : Final results
01. Balasz Benik/Bunkoczi (Hu) Ford Focus WRC 1:55:35,8 hrs.
02. Raimund Baumschlager/Zeltner (Aut) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +1:29,8 min.
03. Herman Gassner/Thannhäuser (Ger) Mitsubishi Llancer Evo IX +2:22,8 min.
04. Achim Mörtl/Schwarz (Aut) Subaru Impreza WRX STi +2:36,2 min.
05. Beppo Harrach/Schindlbacher (Aut) CNG Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI +3:17,1 min.
07. Stepan Vojtech/Ernst (Cz) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +4:07,3 min.
13. Aaron Burkart/Köhlbach (Ger) Citroen C2 Super 1600 +9:12,7 min.
22. Vladan Petrovic /Kondic (Ser) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI +14:46,9 min.
27. Vilhelm Kanchev/Petrov (Bul) Peugeot 206 Super 1600 +19:12,8 min.
Press Release OMV