Season Opener with Ups and Downs

Sulingen, Germany – The past weekend marked the exciting start of the new season of the ADAC Opel Electric Rally Cup, where Infypower chargebyte e-Rally teamed up with driver Johannes Wittenbeck and co-driver Luca Kiefer. Once again, the Rallye Sulingen in Germany served as the opening round of the season, attracting a full international field of 15 cars, including guest pilot Timo Scheider, two-time DTM champion and Extreme E star.

This year, alongside the two cars from the French FFSA association, the Belgian, Dutch, and Spanish associations each presented a vehicle with their promising young drivers. Another challenge was presented by the switch to new Michelin tires with a harder compound.

Wittenbeck’s team completed a solid training session on Thursday during the Shakedown and kicked off the rally on Friday afternoon. Two special stages took place on the famous IVG terrain, a vast military area from World War II, on the first day. With a solid 10th place overall on Friday evening, the team was promisingly positioned in the race.

On Saturday morning, Wittenbeck achieved an impressive 6th place in one of the special stages, his best result yet in the cup. This pushed the crew up to 9th place overall, reducing the gap to 8th place from 12 seconds to 3.7 seconds. A minor mistake on SS7, where a little bit of rain picked up, led to a brief off-track excursion into the grass, from which they could not self-recover. This forced the crew to incur a 10-minute time penalty after being pulled out by a safety vehicle, along with a forced restart for the last special stage of the rally. As a result, Wittenbeck and Kiefer lost their top 10 placement and had to finish the rally in 14th place.

However, Johannes Wittenbeck remains positive about the first weekend: “I am very pleased with our start into the season. Sure, the end was pretty dumb of me and shouldn’t have happened. But we tried to squeeze out the last few seconds and have already shown that we have progressed significantly compared to last year. I’m no longer here just to fight for 8th place. With our performance, we can work, and the season has only just begun.” The next race will take place in two weeks at the ELE Rally in Eindhoven, Netherlands.