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Von Thurn und Taxis wins the season opener of the Mitropa Rally Cup

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Albert von Thurn und Taxis wins the season opener of the Mitropa Rally Cup at the 11. Int. LKW Friends on the road Rebenland Rallye (AUT)

The German team Albert von Thurn und Taxis/Jara Hain won the first Mitropa Rally Cup (MRC) event of the year with a start-finish victory in the BRR team’s Škoda Fabia RS Rally2. Newcomer to the Mitropa Rally Cup family, Philip Geipel (DEU), drove a consistent performance in the Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo to second place, while veteran Hermann Gaßner Sr. (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X R4) finished in third place after turbulent events.
 
On day one of the 11th Int. LKW Friends on the road Rebenland Rallye, von Thurn und Taxis set all the fastest times, signaling to his rivals who is the master of the house. Geipel consistently set the second-best times. “The track conditions exceeded my expectations, it really is completely new territory for me,” said the 2022 German Rally Champion.
 
The battle for 3rd place initially raged between 21-year-old René Noller and Hermann Gaßner Sr. However, the veteran then dropped back due to problems with the turbocharger. Austrian Enrico Windisch came up trumps in his Audi A1 Rally2 kit and moved up to 3rd place at the overnight break. He was followed in 4th place by Hungarian Zoltán László (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) and in 5th place by Slovenian youngster Mark Škulj (Opel Corsa Rally4).
 
This means that 3 Mitropa Cup teams are in the overall top 10 of the Rebenland Rally. The brothers Simon and Julian Wagner, both in a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, took 1st and 2nd place in the overall standings. Albert von Thurn und Taxis takes 6th place, Philip Geipel 8th and Enrico Windisch 10th.
 
On the following day, there was no change in the top 5 positions until the lunch break. The onset of rain turned the dusty roads into slippery tracks. Veteran Hermann Gaßner is back in the race and fights with Mark Škulj in the front-wheel drive Opel Corsa for 3rd place again. 7-time Mitropa Rally Cup winner Gassner can take over 3rd position due to a puncture by Windisch. Even the strong driving Škulj could not do anything about it and finished a remarkable 4th ahead of Zoltán László.
Škulj and Noller fought a thrilling battle for victory in the 2WD classification for two-wheel drive vehicles throughout the rally. However, Noller was unable to make up the deficit of around 50 seconds caused by a puncture on the first day in the battle for seconds and ultimately had to settle for second place in this category.
 
The strong performance of the Mitropa Rally Cup teams is also reflected in the overall ranking of the rally. In the end, 5 Mitropa Cup teams finished in the top 10 of the second round of the highly competitive Austrian Rally Championship. The team Simon Wagner/Gerald Winter (AUT) in the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 secured the overall victory of the event.

The drivers in their historic vehicles in accordance with the FIA Appendix K regulations also gave each other no quarter. It was a duel between the Austrian team Patrik and Julia Hochegger (Opel Kadett GT/E) and the Italian Rino Muradore (Ford Escort RS 2000 MKII). The Austrian team led the standings until nightfall, but the Italian obviously got to grips with the tracks better as night fell and went into the overnight break in the lead. Almost 2 minutes behind in third place was the team of Thomas and Sandra Maria Klösch (AUT) in their Opel Kadett C-Coupé. On Saturday, the Hochegger vs. Muradore duel continued with exciting battles for position, which were only decided on the last special stage when the Italian, who had been leading again until then, suffered gearbox damage. Despite his rival’s bad luck, Hochegger deservedly won the classification ahead of Klösch, with the Czech father-son team of Aleš Sr./Aleš Jirátko (BMW 2002 Ti) coming third.
 
In the internal Mitropa Rally Club Championship, it initially looked as though the team of Florian Auer/Elke Irlacher (DEU) in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII would make a clean sweep. From the 1st to the 11th special stage, Auer was clearly in the lead ahead of the reigning champion in this classification group, the German Martin Kainz (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX), but then retired with gearbox damage. Kainz took the lead and drove home safely with co-driver Karin Cerny (AUT). Hungarian Dániel Fischer (Subaru Impreza WRX STi RA) finished second ahead of Italian Federico Laurencich in a Peugeot 106 Rallye.

The total length of the 11th Int. LKW FRIENDS on the road Rebenland-Rallye (AUT) is 305 kilometers, the sporting decisions were held on 16 special stages with a total length of 163 kilometers.