As the first pure asphalt round of the season, ADAC Rallye Deutschland (21 - 24 August) will throw a host of challenges at drivers, some of whom will taste sealed surface special stages for the first time in their current cars.
What are the main challenges that will confront them during the three-day event?
One renowned source describes a hinkelstein as the term for menhir – or standing stone - in the local Hessian dialect, after a menhir discovered in 1866 in Monsheim in southern Germany. So what has all that got to do with a round of the FIA World Rally Championship?
In simple terms, they are huge kerbstones buried in the ground alongside roads on the Baumholder military area, which the rally visits on Saturday for four stages. They are designed to keep errant tanks on the training tracks and if a wayward car decides to take one on, there is only going to be one winner…
Few drivers escape an impact with a hinkelstein without suffering immediate retirement.
This military training land, used by the US Army, was once described as the ‘Safari Rally of asphalt rallying’. The terrain might not be quite as rough as Kenya’s finest, but the stages there pose perhaps the most severe asphalt test of the season.
Smooth wide roads contrasts with narrow cobbles and rough broken concrete. A fine layer of sand on the surface makes conditions slippery in the dry and treacherous in the wet. And all the while there are those hinkelsteins in the back of drivers’ minds.
The Mosel vineyards offer some of Germany’s finest grapes, but they also provide some of the country’s best rally roads.
They are extremely narrow, lightning quick and linked by a series of impossibly tight hairpins as they climb and descend the hillsides.
The vines often overhang the roads, making visibility of entry and exit points of corners tricky and there are few drivers who haven’t a tale to tell about a quick visit into the Riesling grapes.
The weather could also play a key role: the end of August could see extremely high temperatures soar above the 30-degree mark, but is also well capable of producing continuous heavy rainfall. Most difficult however is a bit of both, as grip is notoriously difficult to gauge in drying conditions and the narrow vineyard roads offer little margin for error.
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