Dutch rising talent Abbring, under consideration as a future factory driver for Volkswagen in the WRC, shone from the outset by going 0.8s faster than any of his rivals in free practice before qualifying fourth overall and eventually finishing in the same position after recovering from a poor start.
“Starting together with several other cars was exciting because rally drivers normally don’t have this experience,” said the former Junior world championship frontrunner. “My first circuit race couldn't have gone much better and fourth place is a great result. Naturally, I’d have liked to manage the leap onto the podium but Nicola Larini [who finished third] was a tiny bit faster. Before the race I’d firmly decided not to jeopardise the championship of any of the permanent drivers by making thoughtless attacks. But then I was a bit too much of a good guy at the start and lost at least four places.”
Ola Nilsson, from Sweden, won the race ahead of Poland’s Adam Gladysz. Other celebrities in action included retired footballer Karl-Heinz Riedle and former Formula One driver Christian Danner.