The Eifel Rallye Festival 2017 was staged 21-23 July in the Eifel Mountains of Western Germany. The 3-day rally was held over eight special stages in and around the town of Daun, turning the volcanic Eifel region into the center of historic rally racing.
With more than 160 fantastic rallye cars entered and thousands of spectators from all over Europe, this year’s Festival celebrated cars and drivers representing ‘Six Decades of Rallying’. From the rattling of a two-stroke Wartburg via the fire-spitting beasts from the Group B era including three Peugeot 205 T16, five Ford RS200 and as many Audi Sport Quattro E2 to the modern-day World Rally Cars, the 2017 Eifel Rallye Festival was an authentic journey in time.
Mingling with the participants who restore and drive their precious classic rally cars themselves at the Eifel Rallye Festival 2017, were a dozen ‘VIP drivers’ who were also taking an active part in the event. The youngest of them was 29-year-old Hyundai works driver Thierry Neuville who made a stop in Daun before heading on to the next WRC round in Finland. “I really enjoyed it and I hope that the fans also enjoyed my driving. I have tried to drive in as spectacular a way as possible”, said the current Vice-World Rally Champion after climbing out of his Hyundai i20 WRC on after inserting the occasional series of doughnuts into his stage performances.
Equally thrilled was 1983 World Rally Champion Hannu Mikkola: “I would like to thank the organisers for giving me the chance to be here. This is a superb event with a great atmosphere.” While Mikkola joined the Eifel Rallye Festival for the second time, Kalle Grundel from Sweden made his Festival debut. “There are so many memories from my time in the German Rally Championship that are coming back, this is really fantastic. I certainly want to return next year.”
Since there is no actual competition at the Eifel Rallye Festival, the winners of the demonstration are decided by a jury of experts — not an easy task considering the entry list at this year’s event. For the ‘Champion’s Choice’ award, this role was served by the VIP drivers taking part in the event and they chose the tiny Trabant P 800 RS driven by Olivier and Marc Hermans. While the BMW 2002 of Wolfgang Schröder and Detlef May resembling the 1972 Olympia Rally works car was crowned as ‘Best Replication’, the Toyota 222D owned by Ernst Kopp was awarded the ‘Best Original’ prize. This Group S prototype drove its first stage kilometres since 1986. The ‘Sideways Star’ trophy for the most spectacular course-opening car went to Michael Rausch and Marcel Stauch in their Opel Ascona B 16V.
While Rausch’s driving style caught the attention of the jury, it was something else which made them vote for Dave Kedward and Felix Wiseman to win the ‘Special Prize’: The red-hot turbocharger of Kedward’s Peugeot illuminated the Eifel skies during the proWIN night stage and made it look like a glowing fireball racing through the night. The final -award of the night was the ‘Rallying Ambassador’ trophy handed over to Stig Blomqvist who has made history by winning rallies in six different decades. “I had a lot of fun this weekend and there was also a lot to do as I could drive three different cars. I really enjoyed that,” said Blomqvist.
Similar to 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, Sports Car Digest also documented the Eifel Rallye Festival 2017, with Senior Photographer Julien Mahiels offering the following stunning picture gallery that shows the varied field of entrants tackling the night stages.
Eifel Rallye Festival 2017 – Photo Gallery (photos: Julien Mahiels)
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[Source: Eifel Rallye; photos: Julien Mahiels]