ADAC Rallye Deutschland’s (22 - 25 August) corkscrew-style roads in the Mosel vineyards and narrow Saarland lanes are packed with difficulty – but it’s the Panzerplatte tank training tracks that strike fear into the hearts of the WRC drivers.
We dig deep to give you a special fact-fest on the Baumholder military land speed tests which have ended the hopes of so many along the years.
What and when?
Saturday afternoon is all about Baumholder. A double loop of the 10.73km Arena Panzerplatte and the marathon 41.17km Panzerplatte offers more than 100km of flat out action, split by a return to the Bostalee service park for new tyres and running repairs. To add extra difficulty, virtually all the sections will be driven in the opposite direction to 2018.
Why is Panzerplatte so tough?
The roads were built for tank training and the surface changes constantly. One minute the drivers are enjoying smooth and wide asphalt, the next the surface becomes broken, and then they round a corner to discover bumpy concrete and even cobblestones. The grip changes all the time. Slippery sand coats the roads in the dry while in the wet conditions can be treacherous. The site is criss-crossed by an intricate maze of roads and crews must handle 89 junctions in the long stage!
It can’t be easy for the tyres?
It’s not. The mix of surfaces is extremely tough on tyres and the rough sections demand high resistance from Michelin’s rubber. If it is hot the tyres come under even more duress and that’s another concern for drivers.
What else is there to worry about?
Many roads are lined with hinkelsteins, massive concrete kerbs designed to keep tanks on the straight and narrow. Buried deep into the ground, there is only one winner if a car hits one of these huge stones……. Incidentally, hinkelstein is the German word for menhir.
One of the most popular fan locations in the rally. It’s located in the Arena Panzerplatte test and can launch cars into spectacular leaps of up to 40 metres.
Who is the King of Panzerplatte?
Since its WRC debut in 2002, 62 stages have been tackled there. Sébastien Loeb is the undisputed star with 15 victories. World champ Sébastien Ogier is second with nine fastest times, followed by Dani Sordo with eight.