Six Fiesta R2s travelled to Germany for the fourth round of the Fiesta SportTrophy International (FSTi) series this weekend where Christian Riedemann (22) and Josefine Beinke (18) took their first FSTi victory at the hotly contested ADAC Rallye Deutschland. The 22-year-old driver’s stunning performance also meant he finished fourth in the Junior World Rally Championship (J-WRC), in which he was nominated as the Guest Entry. Current FSTi leader Victor Henriksson sat this round out, but maintains his lead by five points to Bader Al Jabri.
The three-day event saw the pack of Fiesta R2 entries tackle the longest FIA World Rally Championship stage in the calendar (Panzerplatte, 48km) with four of the original entries making it to the end of the challenging 405km event. Two FSTi entries retired on Day 2, including the only entry to have previously contested Rallye Deutschland – Joachim Müller-Wende. British duo Harry Hunt (21) and Sebastian Marshall (22) also retired on Friday afternoon with engine problems.
Friday’s opening stage (SS1) was stopped for the six FSTi entries due to J-WRC rival Kevin Abring rolling on the stage and blocking the road. The drivers were diverted directly to SS2, but this was also stopped after Riedemann had finished due to an earlier incident. On Day 2, SS10, the longest of the day, was cancelled due to two cars that had caught fire on the stage. For the drivers that missed these stages, a stage time approximate to their second pass was nominated by the Stewards.
Christian Riedemann has won a €1,500 M-Sport voucher and was also the winner of the Muc-Off Best Presented Car Award.
Christian Riedemann (22) & Josefine Beinke (18)
FSTi final position: 1st
As a German native, Christian Riedemann was nominated as the J-WRC Guest Entry for ADAC Rally Deutschland and was a strong favourite to win FSTi on his home rally. Riedemann was the only Fiesta R2 to get through SS2 before the stage was stopped, but found the stage increasingly difficult as his handbrake did not work and his car was suffering from brake fade. This problem continued into SS3. On SS5, Riedemann lost over 60 seconds when he hit a kerb and developed a puncture, having to drive for the final 5km with a damaged wheel and a vibration so severe that the rear side window was shaken from the car. Due to this incident, Riedemann’s steering was out of line, but he managed make it to the end of the day and pulled into service at the end of Day 1 leading the FSTi series by one minute.
The young German had a clear run on Saturday’s opening three stages, but reported a ‘long’ brake pedal, so the pads were changed at the midday service. SS9 was scattered with corners in which gravel had been pulled onto the road, so he took a more cautious approach for fear of slipping on the gravel. At the end of Day 2, Riedemann was leading the FSTi field by over seven minutes.
On Sunday’s opening stage, Riedemann lost five seconds behind a car seeded earlier in the field that had stopped and was recovering directly ahead of him. SS16 featured narrow roads with rocks lining both side, so hairpin bends were challenging for all FSTi drivers, including the dominant Riedemann who had to put the car into reverse to drive around two such bends. On SS18, Riedemann lost approximately 20 seconds as his engine was losing power. He managed to make it to SS19 where he thrilled local fans at the Super Special Stage. Riedemann took victory at Rallye Deutschland in the FSTi series by over nine minutes and also finished a stunning fourth in the J-WRC.
ADAC Rallye Deutschland winner Christian Ridemann (22) said:
“I am really happy to have won my home rally, especially after leading in Portugal and lying third in Finland with the disappointment of no finishes at either rally. We have won the Muc-Off Best Presented Car Award, so I must thank the team for providing me with such a great car. To win FSTi is one thing, but to come fourth in the J-WRC is fantastic: two successes in one weekend! Now I have points on the board and I can go to France with confidence – we must win again in France!”
Majed Al Shamsi & Allan Harryman
FSTi final position: 2nd
Throughout Rally Deutschland’s opening day, Majed Al Shamsi drove cautiously as he struggled to find a rhythm to his driving. During the first service, Al Shamsi’s rear suspension settings were softened, which helped considerably, but the Emirate still lacked confidence throughout the afternoon. At the end of Day 1, Al Shamsi reported he wanted to push harder but did not want to take risks whilst his confidence was low. He finished the day fourth out of the six FSTi entries.
Day 2 was far better for Al Shamsi and co-driver Allan Harryman, although they lost over ten seconds during SS14 due to a big overshoot of 50 meters on a corner of the 48km Panzerplatte stage. The Team Abu Dhabi driver also reported that his brakes were overheating, but his stage times steadily improved throughout the day to move up the FSTi leaderboard ahead of fellow Abu Dhabi team-mate Bader Al Jabri. Al Shamsi then took advantage of Hunt’s retirement on Saturday afternoon and finished the day second in the FSTi standings.
Day 3 was another good day for Al Shamsi, but he still struggled to negotiate the tight hairpin bends of SS16 and SS18, as did the rest of the FSTi drivers. He had no other problems on the rally’s closing stages and was able to consolidate his third place position, which promoted him to fourth position in the FSTi standings.
Bader Al Jabri (25) & Stephen McAuley
FSTi final position: 3rd
Team Abu Dhabi member Bader Al Jabri had a good rally and was pleased to finish on the podium in Germany. Day 1 was challenging; a spin on a hairpin during SS3 concentrated the Emirate’s mind and encouraged him to take a more cautious approach for the rest of the day. He found the multitude of corners a real challenge given the speed in which the pacenotes had to be called, especially when there had been so much gravel pulled onto the road, that it made it very difficult to judge how the corners should be approached. He also stated that his brakes were also overheating so he was needing to brake earlier than normal. After a tricky first day for the Emirate, Al Jabri was placed third in the FSTi field behind Britain’s Harry Hunt.
Trouble struck on Day 2 when Al Jabri’s Fiesta R2 nipped a kerb on SS8, resulting in a double puncture and bent steering. The Emirate then had further problems on the afternoon pass as his brakes were fading and he struggled with the amount of gravel that had been dragged onto the stage. However, one of the most coveted stage wins of the year was notched up by Al Jabri for the 48km Panzerplatte stage, demonstrating an incredible test of concentration and beating Riedemann by an astonishing 30.4 seconds. At the end of the second day, Al Jabri had taken advantage of Hunt’s retirement and was placed third in the FSTi field.
Al Jabri did not enjoy Sunday’s final five stages as he reported they were too tight and narrow. On SS16, the Emirate went straight on at a hairpin and lost some time. The Emirate’s bad luck continued into SS17 when he dropped over two minutes after landing badly over a bad crest and bending the rear beam and wheels. As a result of this incident, Al Jabri slowed for SS18 but was one minute late into TC18 which incurred a ten second penalty. The Emirate got to the end of the rally’s closing Super Special Stage without any problems to consolidate his third place finish.
Khalil Al Shaikh (27) & Killian Duffy (27)
FSTi final position: 4th
FSTi debutant, Khalil Al Shaikh had been given an opportunity by Team Abu Dhabi to prove his mettle and arrived in Germany having never competed in the WRC before. Despite the cancellation of the first two stages, the Emirate made a good start, albeit with the loss of 15 seconds when he stalled his Fiesta R2 on a hairpin bend. SS5 saw Al Shaikh produce an identical time to his more seasoned team-mate, Majed Al Shamsi, which gave the WRC rookie a good dose of confidence for the remaining stages. Al Shaikh pulled into the evening service in fifth position, but in high spirits having had a good feeling with the car and a relatively trouble-free opening day.
On the second day of Rallye Deutschland, disaster struck on SS8 when Al Shaikh found himself with no brakes and careered into a large bale of hay, impacting with co-driver Killian Duffy’s door. After spectators had pushed the car back onto the stage, the crew took a few moments to assess the damage (which was found to be purely cosmetic), by which time over ten minutes had been lost and the pair had dropped back to sixth place in FSTi. With another stage and only a 15 minute remote service to follow, the team’s resources were limited, but they managed to patch up the damage and send the car into the Panzerplatte stage, which was subsequently stopped. Further work was done on the car at the midday service, but the Emirate’s confidence had been knocked, so he took a cautious approach for the remainder of the day.
Al Shaikh was keen to finish his debut WRC event and drove carefully in order to make it to the end. Like the other drivers, he had to take a couple of ‘bites’ at the hairpin bends, but finished with a strong result and could be proud in the fact that he had completed the Team Abu Dhabi line-up over the finish ramp.
Harry Hunt (21) & Sebastian Marshall (22)
FSTi final position: DNF
British duo Harry Hunt and Sebastian Marshall had a strong advantage in Germany this weekend after their previous experience driving on asphalt at the recent Rally Bulgaria. However, catastrophe loomed for the pair in an event that saw them drop from second to third position in the FSTi standings. Like many other drivers, Hunt had difficulties negotiating the tight hairpin bends and time was lost when he had to put the car into reverse to get around them. SS6 threatened drama for the Briton, when he overtook a slower car ahead of him, who had failed to see the looming Fiesta R2 in his rear view mirror. The slower driver saw Hunt just in the nick of time, as the green Fiesta slid up the inside of him, fortunately averting a collision.
On Saturday’s opening stage, Hunt had no problems other than a brief spin on a gravelly section of the stage, losing approximately 15 seconds in the process. He had no problems on SS8, but drifted wide on SS9 just before the finish on a particularly muddy section of the road. SS10 was stopped, but disaster struck 2km after SS11 when his engine reportedly ceased and the Briton was forced to retire from his second consecutive FSTi event.
Joachim Müller-Wende & Hans-Joachim Grimberg
FSTi final position: DNF
Joachim Müller-Wende was the only FSTi competitor to have previously contested Rallye Deutschland and was marking his return to the WRC after over a year away from the events. Having recently obtained the car and just about had it ready in time for the event, problems were occurring with the engine cutting out and little acceleration available out of the corners on the first competitive stage. The problem was impossible to diagnose in the first service, so the disappointed duo were forced to retire for the day. It was later discovered that there was a problem with the fuel pump; both the tank and pump were changed before Day 2. Müller-Wende and Hans-Joachim Grimberg were given a 15 minute SupeRally penalty going into Day 2.
Day 2 turned out to be just as eventful, when on SS8, the German took lost the rear end of the car over a fast crest and landed in a field, narrowly missing trees on either side. Little time was lost and there was no damage caused to the car. Following this incident, Müller-Wende approached the stages with a little more caution, but could not get into a comfortable rhythm. Having taken another excursion into a field on SS13, the Swiss resident arrived at the remote service in Birkenfeld with an overheated engine that may have been a result of the earlier ‘offs’. Regrettably, this was the end of the rally for Müller-Wende.