And to ensure they are fully prepared for the challenge ahead, the young stars have been accumulating as much Tarmac knowledge as possible as they vie for the 500,000 Euros career-development scholarship, which will be handed to the inaugural champion.
While Egon Kaur, a relative asphalt novice, and Craig Breen - currently first and joint second in the WRC Academy Cup standings respectively - have both contested practice events, Alastair Fisher headed to a kart track in his native Northern Ireland, where he spent an afternoon at the wheel of his own Ford Fiesta R2, similar to the one he uses in the WRC Academy.
“The first three Academy rounds have been on gravel so it’s important to get back into Tarmac mode and get your brain thinking in the right way,” said the 23-year-old, who is currently 10th in the WRC Academy Cup table. “The stages in Germany have lots of junctions so one of the main things we did was to practice maintaining speed and momentum into and out of corners so you never lose time on the straights, which is very important in a lower-powered car like the Fiesta.”
The WRC Academy crews, who compete in identical Fiesta R2s prepared by the British M-Sport organisation from a base in Krakow, Poland, and use Pirelli control tyres, will tackle six stages on Friday and a further eight on Saturday when the results will be declared.
Australian Molly Taylor, one of six Pirelli Star Drivers competing in the WRC Academy, believes the change of surface could turn the formbook on its head.
“I think the dynamics of the championship will change for sure and it will be interesting to see what happens,” said Taylor. “For me, the aim is to focus on my job and drive my own rally. Coming from Australia, most of my rallying has been done on gravel, so I am still learning the Tarmac but we have done some really good testing and I feel a lot more confident on the surface.”
The mainly asphalt route could also play into the hands of Czech Jan Cerny and Italian Andrea Crugnola, whom Craig Breen regards as Tarmac specialists. “It’s a Tarmac event but very specialised,” said Irishman Breen. “The only option I have is to go for the win but drivers like Jan and Andrea are good on Tarmac and will be out to prove a point.”
As well as a change of surface from gravel to asphalt, the driver line-up has altered for ADAC Rallye Deutschland with local hero Sepp Wiegand set to make his WRC Academy debut in place of countryman Christian Riedemann. Riedemann has been invited to drive a Volkswagen Motorsport Skoda Fabia Super 2000 on the event and has received special permission to miss his home round of the Academy.
In other changes, Argentine Miguel Baldoni will now be co-driven by Gustavo Franchello, while Morten Erik Abrahamsen will navigate fellow Swede Fredrik Ahlin.