Barrable aims to avoid the hinklesteins in Germany
August 16, 2013 by Paul Evans
For anyone contesting the ADAC Rally Deutschland (22-25 August) for the first time, avoiding the concrete hinkelsteins kerbstones, which are designed to keep armoured tanks on the right tracks in the Baumholder military area, is a must. That’s just one of the many challenges awaiting Robert Barrable, who is about to make his maiden appearance on Germany’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
The event marks the 25-year old Irish driver’s first Tarmac WRC outing in his Tunnock’s World Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5. It will also be Robert’s first international asphalt rally since the Barum Czech Rally Zlín 12 months ago – where he finished 5th overall on the Czech Republic round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in a Škoda Fabia S2000.
In preparation for his Rally Deutschland debut, Robert took his CA1 Sport-run Fiesta R5 to the Cheviot Hills in Northumberland for an 80-mile Tarmac test. Co-driven by Stuart Loudon, he finished 1st in class and 5th overall on the Tyneside Stages Rally – although far more important than the result was the opportunity to experiment with the car’s suspension geometry and ride height settings on the fast and bumpy Otterburn stages.
Having scored WRC-2 points on both his previous outings in Portugal and in Finland this year, Robert hopes to continue his good run in Germany – although he knows the changeable surface and unforgiving nature of the stages makes this one on the most gruelling asphalt rounds of the WRC to do, especially for the first time.
Robert Barrable: “Rally Germany is going to be a difficult rally, with changeable surface and grip levels on the vineyard and military roads, but I’m really looking forward to the challenge. If the weather stays dry, then I’m led to believe it’s a brilliant event – but when it rains, a lot of muck gets pulled out onto the roads and it becomes very slippery.
“We had a good test on the Otterburn ranges, which was the first time I’d driven the Fiesta R5 on asphalt and my first Tarmac rally of any kind for twelve months. The test went well and I was very happy with the way the car performed on the fast and bumpy roads in Northumberland – and I’ve no-doubt those eighty miles we did will pay dividends when we arrive in Germany.
“Rally Germany will be another good learning experience and the key to success will be to keep out of trouble – and away from those hinkelsteins. The pace is incredibly quick at World Rally Championship level, so we have to remember that it’s our first time in Germany and we’re competing against the very best in the world.”
Stuart Loudon: “Last weekend’s run at the Tyneside Stages was really about us getting familiar with the car. It wasn’t to get a result or to look at times but to see how everything performed. The R5 is just phenomenal; the way it stops is incredible. I feel so at home and comfortable in this car.
“Germany is like three events in one. There are the stages through the Mosel vineyards that are very tight, where you have to be so neat and tidy as well as fast. Then there are the stages around the Saarland area that takes you through the forests. This is a bit like Barum Czech Rally Zlín where Rob and I were fifth last year, so we are looking forward to these stages. Then there are the stages around the US Army Garrison base, H D Smith Barracks and Arena Panzerplatte that is the longest stage on the event at almost twenty-eight miles. This is probably the most famous stage of the event due to the hinklesteins that are there to keep the tanks on the road.”
Round 9 of the WRC starts in Cologne on Thursday 22 August, with two late afternoon stages (near Blankenheim and Sauteral) held on the route back to the event’s base in Trier. The following three days of competition takes place on various types of sealed-surface roads, with bumpy, narrow and switchback stages through the Mosel vineyards, fast and flowing roads through the Saarland countryside (which are treacherously slippery when wet) and abrasive concrete roads in the Baumholder military area.
After 16 special stages, covering 231 miles (371kms), the rally finishes in the centre of Trier at 14.00 on Sunday 25 August.