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XIV Mallorca Rally Clásico

Regularity Category winners, Philip Vlieghe and Filpp Deplancke tackle the ‘Mallorcan Pike’s Peak’

The 14th edition of the Mallorcan Classic rally was held on its usual mid-March date with the support of Puerto Portals, the most prestigious marina on the Island, which again hosted the rally service park on its quays, lined as ever with some of the most luxurious yachts in the Mediterranean, while long time event supporter and keen competitor Michael Stoschek continued his involvement through his Brose Motorsports concern. Stoschek, a former German National rally champion, has driven his remanufactured all carbon Lancia Stratos as a zero car for the past couple of years, but this year the lure of the chase proved too much for him and he returned to the competition section in a 1965 Porsche 911.

The number of entries was slightly down compared to previous years, although the clash with Costa Brava was avoided when the Catalan event moved its date by a week so that the more ardent competitors could take part in both. There were just under 90 cars spread over the three groups of Regularity, Legends (Cars manufactured before 1990), and Competition. In addition, there were some fairly tasty zero and safety cars to keep the spectators’ juices running. These included Jim Whelan’s current Malcolm Wilson Ford Fiesta Evo, Steve Rockingham’s ex-Colin McRae, Nicky Grist, Subaru WRC Impreza and a Porsche 911 RS driven by now retired German steel magnate and philanthropist, Michael Eschmann, who competed in every Mallorca Classic rally up to two years ago.

Legends survivors Mike Anderson and David Beltrans, Ford Sierra Cosworth

The Shelby Cobra of Spanish team Stefan Peitzsch and Glorias De Luna was seeded first in the regularity category ahead of last year’s winners Carbonell and Antonio Magraner in their Volkswagen Golf. First on the road for the Legends was last year’s winner, the hugely successful Silverstone Auctions proprietor and Mallorca resident Nick Whale, co-driven by Ian Windress in their Dansport prepared BMW M3. In the absence of winner for the last two years Stefan Oberdörster, the local crew of Nadal Galliana and Gabriel Flores headed the competition section in their Pinto engined Ford Escort.

They always seem to lead the first part of the rally only to be overwhelmed by the speed of the Porsches on the fast sections of the final day. The crowd pleasing, raucous, Amigo beer sponsored Lancia Stratos of Steve Perez and Andrew Bull was seeded second. Usually lacking the ultimate top speed for the quicker stages, the Danspeed prepared car finished third last year. However this year Perez planned a ratio change to overcome this weakness. The oldest car in competition, the 1965 Ricky Higgs prepared Lotus Elan of John and Lesley Sheldon was seeded third. A previous overall winner, the car and the crew have competed in all 14 editions of the rally.

 

An island such as Mallorca has only a finite number of rally stages available, and after so many years, the task of providing a varied route becomes more difficult for Dezcallar. However like a Master Chef with only a limited number of ingredients at his disposal Toni keeps coming up with new variations of stretches of road to challenge the competitor. For the last couple of years he has even managed a completely new stage and his innovations continued in 2018.

The weather reports for the opening evening were ominous, with light rain and thick mist in the mountains. However as the evening progressed, the weather cleared and the two opening night stages were completely dry.

The surprise of the evening was two wins for the Austrian Kris Rosenberger and Christina Ettel Kaiser, in a normally aspirated three-litre Porsche SC and back in the parc fermé at Puerto Portals, rally regulars were asking, “Who are these guys leading our rally?” The more well-informed were not surprised. Kris Rosenberger was a regular competitor in the World Rally Championship with 24 participations and a former Austrian Champion. Hardly inexperienced, his co-driver Christina Ettel is also a professional.

One of the highlights of the rally on the following day is the lunch at the restaurant in the little cove of Sa Calobra where the competitors examined the morning’s results. Rosenberger and Ettel had won all four stages! The German crew of Heiko Becker-Rohbach and Meik Hochweller in a Porsche Carrera RS were second and the British crew of Tony and Aston Blake in another ubiquitous Porsche were third.

Sa Calobra gives its name to everyone’s favourite stage of the Mallorca Classic Rally. The 12km hillclimb and descent richly deserves its sobriquet of the Mallorcan Pikes Peak. Near the top is the most famous corner of the stage, the nearly 360-degree ‘Carousel’ where the road crosses over itself by a bridge on the exit. Understandably this is a favourite viewing point. The road then crests the Col des Reis at a height of 690 metres before a steep descent to the finish.

Former Austrian Champion Kris Rosenberger was a regular competitor in the World Rally Championship with 24 participations. He showed what he could do on his debut in Mallorca by winning every stage but one, and that one only due to a misfire

There was to be no stopping the Austrian steamroller, as at day’s end the results showed the debutants had won every stage. The Becker-Rohbach Porsche was second 90 seconds behind, with Perez in third. The Mallorcan crew of David Antonio Garcia and Guem Cuarte in a Renault Clio Maxi held the lead over a perilously small group of survivors in the Legends class.

The stages for the final morning were familiar territory, with the first passes blighted with very damp, treacherous patches under the trees. One of these caught out the second placed Hochman Porsche, which had a heavy impact with the unyielding rock. The car was very badly damaged but the crew escaped with nothing more than heavy bruising. The Legend class-leading Renault Clio Maxi also retired.

Slowed by a misfire, the Rosenberger Porsche did not win the second pass! This left Perez to take an excellent stage win. His son Sebastian, in a Ford Escort co-driven and mentored by the ultra experienced Paul Spooner, had beaten his father on the previous stage. This was not in the Perez household script and provided Steve with some fatherly motivation for the final stage.

The final stage was a run in the opposite direction to part of the morning stage and continued straight all the way to the town of Calvia. The interest here was in the Perez family battle. New tyres helped Dad beat Son to second place - just. The predicted rains arrived just as the final competitors came through, leaving everyone a dry run.

Kris Rosenberger and Christina Ettel Kaiser finished with a lead of over two minutes after a smooth, almost unruffled, professional drive. Steve Perez and Andrew Bull were second with Sebastian Perez and Paul Spooner joining them on the podium. Tony and Aston Blake were an excellent fourth, their best result to date. Event sponsor Michael Stoschek and Dieter Hawkrange were next in their 2 litre Porsche 911 followed by the class winning Lotus Elan of John and Lesley Sheldon.

For a fuller report see our April 2018 issue

 

 

 

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