Two time world rally champion, Walter Rohrl has told today's WRC stars to stop moaning about the concrete kerbstones, known locally as 'Hinkelsteins', which will feature on day two of this weekend's Rallye Deutschland.

Speaking in the build-up to his native countries round in the 2006 FIA World Rally Championship, the ninth event on the schedule, the 1980 and 1982 rally champion added the 'Hinkelsteins', which crop-up as part of Saturday's action on the Baumholder military ground and which are designed to stop tanks, are just part of rallying.

"The vineyard stages on the Moselle and the fast blacktop roads in the Saarland may have their charms, but I still think the Baumholder leg is the most challenging," he noted, when asked about which leg of the Rallye Deutschland is the hardest. "I'm also aware that my young colleagues today are none too happy about the 'Hinkelstein' kerbstones, but they are part of rallying. They will slow rash young bloods and teach them to steer a clean line. If you look at it that way, the 'hinkelsteins' are good for character building in drivers."

The WRC has changed a lot since Rohrl was in action in the 1970's and 1980's for Audi and Fiat. Indeed today's scene is more about outright speed over a much more compressed distance.

"In the old days, endurance and reliability were valued more. The distances covered were considerably longer and the special stages more numerous. Today's WRC events are a series of mini-races with a premium on speed," he continued. "Today's rally cars are more or less equal in performance and specially tuned for each rally. Back then we had to make up in driver skills what disadvantages the wrong chassis setting etc brought us on gravel or asphalt. That's no longer an issue today."

Despite the changes to the sport though, Rohrl still rates today's drivers' highly, although he would like to see current 'man of the moment' Sebastien Loeb put under more pressure from his rivals.

"For me, Sebastien Loeb is the prototype of a world-class driver, a real natural. It's a pity though that he hardly sees any serious competition, except from Marcus Gronholm. Drivers' only deliver their best performance when they feel that pressure. But when it comes to changes in the standings, I will be open for surprises on the Rallye Deutschland this weekend," he added.

Unfortunately for the home fans though, there is not that many local stars to cheer on this weekend with Matthias Kahle the most noticeable and likely to figure the most prominently in his Skoda Fabia WRC. Aaron Burkart may also go well too in the Junior WRC class, in his Citroen C2 S1600. One thing though is certain, to an extent, Germany currently lacks successful young rally drivers', Rohrl reckons that while money is a big factor, it is not the only one.

"We've always been lacking money. It was the same story in my early days. But thanks to current newcomer sponsorship programmes, such as the ADAC's for instance, there are a few talents around. But I sometimes get the impression that these lads don't fight enough for their success. Maybe we have all become a little too easy-going and have lost our bite," he concluded.

 

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