Andreas Aigner/Ilka Minor at the Wechselland Rally

A “snake” in the engine cost the lead in the Austrian Championship

Mysterious misfires in their World Rally Car during the complete first leg of the OPEL Wechselland Rally made it impossible for Andi Aigner and Ilka Minor to defend the lead in the Austrian Championship. The second leg showed: The speed is there…..

The start of the OPEL Wechselland Rally didn’t run like desired for Andi Aigner and Ilka Minor: Not the difficult conditions, rain and fog, have been the problem, but misfires in the engine of the Fiesta World Rally Car - the car with which Andi Aigner wanted to defend the lead in the Austrian Championship.

These misfires were more than unpleasing: “When there were no misfires the engine was running completely normal – but the misfires appeared unexpected, always for just a couple of seconds. If you need the power out of a fast corner and then you get the misfires it could be very dangerous. That’s why we didn’t drive the full 100%.”

After the first three stages some parts have been changed in the service but unfortunately the problem wasn’t resolved. On the contrary: “It was getting worse – so we lost on the loop stage of “Rohrbach” around one minute.”

But, it’s not only hard fighting in the Austrian Championship you also get help if needed like the later winner of the rally and reigning Austrian champion Hermann Neubauer showed. He gave the permission to his engineer, who is working for M-Sport, to read out the data of the Aigner-engine. And with his help the problem was located: It was a sensor which failed and caused this problem.

“Gosh! There is a high pace in Austria.”

Before the start of the second leg Aigner and Minor were already missing 1:12 minutes to the top, another

54 seconds to the third Gerwald Grössing.

Andi Aigner says: “Unfortunately it was clear for me that out of our own resources we can’t catch Gerwald anymore. To this the Austrian top drivers are driving too fast and too good. If you look just on the difficult Hochwechsel stage – with that fog – and how Hermann was flying over that stage – the only thing I can say to that is: ‘Gosh! There is a high pace in Austria.’ The range of evenly matched talents at this moment is so high that you can’t simply win here, even without any problem. On the second leg with the after all big gap to start with we more and less concentrated on our performance and on keeping the car on the road.”

Aigner/Minor the fastest team on the second leg 

That finally worked: Not only that Aigner/Minor set two stage best times, the duo been also 10 seconds quicker than Hermann Neubauer over the total second leg meaning that they been the quickest on that day. Indeed there are no extra points for this – like e.g. in the ERC -   but it helped for the self-confidence: “I’d like to thank our sponsors that they supported us defending the Austrian Championship. It will always be a challenge to beat a 2016 factory car out of the own resources, as we and as well as Hermann Neubauer used a 2011 car. Finally the joy over the speed on the second leg prevails. It gives me more confidence.”

It’s still open how we continue. Andi Aigner says: “If the Austrian Championship agreed to a maximum of 150 stage kilometre per rally like we had it in 2014 we would have already the budget for the 120 km of the Schneebergland Rally. Referring to the rule with the void results I want to say that right now the retirements of Hermann and Raimund are of no consequence. We scored points in all three rallies and it it’s left unrewarded. We will see how we continue.”

Results of OPEL Wechselland-Rallye 2017 after 15 stages:

1. Hermann Neubauer/Bernhard Ettel (A/A, Ford Fiesta WRC)     1:30:38.4 hours

2. Raimund Baumschlager/Pirmin Winklhofer (A/A, VW Polo R WRC)     +8.7 seconds

3. Gerwald Grössing/Josefine Corinn Beinke (A/D, Ford Fiesta WRC)     +47.5 seconds

4. Andreas Aigner/Ilka Minor (A/A, Ford Fiesta WRC)     +1:25.9 minutes

Niki Mayr-Melnhof/Poldi Welsersheimb (A/A, Ford Fiesta R5)     +3:10.5 minutes

Stage best times:

SS1: Neubauer

SS2: Neubauer

SS3: Baumschlager

SS4: Grössing

SS5: cancelled

SS6: Baumschlager

SS7: Neubauer

SS8: Baumschlager

SS9: Neubauer

SS10: Neubauer

SS11: Aigner

SS12: Neubauer

SS13: Aigner

SS14: Neubauer

SS15: Baumschlager


Powerstage points:

1. Baumschlager 3

2. Aigner 2

3. Grössing 1 

Standings Austrian Chmapionship:

1. Neubauer 53

2. Baumschlager 49

3. Aigner 43

4. Grössing 35

5. Mayr-Melnhof 27