Welcome to Rally Flashback, where we look at highlights of an old edition of the upcoming round of the WRC. This time we are going back to the first time Rallye Deutschland appeared on the calendar - 2002.
Rallye Deutschland, held in the Mosel region in Germany, is a rally that is more varied than most. During three days the crews encounter vineyards with an endless string of hairpins, forest roads with slippery, blind corners and military arenas with hinkelsteine threatening on the roadside. Winning here requires both skill and luck.
In 2002 Peugeot had been dominant on tarmac, with mad man Gilles Panizzi taking two wins so far and Marcus Grönholm and Richard Burns also scoring podiums. Grönholm had also taken a solid grip on the drivers title, winning three events. Due to driver rotation in the third Peugeot, Harri Rovanperä would replace Panizzi for this rally.
Citroën were the team looking most likely to challenge Peugeot during this rally. Philippe Bugalski won this rally in 2001, before it gained WRC status. Rookie Sebastien Loeb had already showed impressive pace in Monte Carlo and Safari Rally, and had grown up with roads similar to those in Germany. Tarmac specialist Jesus Puras joined the two French drivers.
Subaru entered four cars in this event, with Tommi Mäkinen and Petter Solberg as their biggest hopes. After winning in Monte Carlo, Mäkinen had been followed by bad luck, while Solberg had increased his status with several podiums. Toshi Arai and Achim Mörtl joined the two regular drivers.
Ford had struggled on tarmac so far this season, and their Pirelli tires were not working as good as the Michelin. In addition, Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz had been a bit too unstable to regularly contest for wins. Markko Märtin joined them in the third Focus.
In this rally you will also find Kenneth Eriksson and Toni Gardemeister in Skoda, Armin Schwarz and Freddy Loix in Hyundai, and Francois Delecour and Alister McRae in Mitsubishi.
The rally began with the vineyards and 5 stagewins for Loeb. Richard Burns followed close behind though, with Philippe Bugalski in third. Marcus Grönholm had challenged Loeb on times until he encountered a problem with the hydraulics. He was still in a good fifth position at the end of the day, just behind Colin McRae. Bad luck continued for Mäkinen, breaking the handbrake lever during one of the first stages. Highlights from the first day can be seen here.
The second day became a bit more eventful from Loeb. A spin in the rain together with a wrong tire choice meant that he lost time to both Grönholm and Burns. Bugalski had an even worse spin, breaking the engine in the progress. At the end of the day, Loeb had just 10.1 and 25.4 seconds on Burns and Grönholm. Meanwhile, Petter Solberg and Armin Schwarz had a couple of nasty crashes, meaning their rally was over. Highlights from the second day can be seen here.
The third day would then be a competition between the two most recent world champions against a talent like no other. To find out if Loeb could defend his lead and take his first WRC win ever, watch the highlights of day 3 below.