The Volkswagen factory team is competing with three driver pairings at a WRC round for the first time at ADAC Rallye Deutschland (24–26 August). In addition to Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), the German junior driver Sepp Wiegand and his co-driver Timo Gottschalk (D), the winner of the 2011 Dakar Rally, will be running at the ninth event of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).
The German duo will be competing in an additional Fabia S2000 of the Group's Škoda brand under a Volkswagen Motorsport nomination at the home around in Trier. Both are contesting the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) in a Fabia of the Škoda Auto Deutschland team this season. There, at Rally Romania on the weekend, they were forced to retire due to a defect shortly before the end while running in second place. In the overall classification, they are ranking in a good fourth place after nine rounds.
"Sepp Wiegand and Timo Gottschalk are showing a superb performance in their first IRC season,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. "That's why they deserve the chance to compete for the Volkswagen team at the German WRC round. Sepp and Timo were running for us at Rally Great Britain in 2011 but unfortunately were forced to retire at that time. Now they're getting the opportunity to prove their skills at ADAC Rallye Deutschland.”
The trained automotive mechatronics specialist from Zwönitz can hardly wait for the rally to start. "It's a great honor to compete in the Volkswagen team at Rallye Deutschland,” says the 21-year-old."My team colleagues Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen rank among the world's best rally drivers. Being in the same team with them is a great feeling. I'll probably be able to get a few pointers from them. On the other hand, it raises the benchmark for me to a pretty high level.” Wiegand, who only switched from Enduro to car racing in 2010 and won the ADAC Rallye Junior Cup in 2011, is aware of the challenge. "Rallye Deutschland with its narrow passages in the vineyards is very special. There's no room for mistakes there. In addition, the tarmac is often dirty, which makes it very slippery. Particularly the special stages in Baumholder on the Panzerplatte are a challenge. The tires immediately heat up and are subjected to extreme strains due to the rough concrete. You've got to find a happy medium to keep from overtaxing the material right at the beginning. But in Timo Gottschalk I've got a very experienced co-driver at my side.”
Gottschalk, who in 2011 as Nasser Al-Attiyah's co-driver in the Volkswagen Race Touareg won the Dakar Rally, is confident. "We harmonize very well and have consistently been improving in the IRC,” says the 37-year-old. A WRC round is more demanding than an IRC rally and thus gives Sepp a good opportunity for further learning. In any event, we're well prepared and look forward to putting the pedal to the metal in front of our home audience.”