In sweltering heat, national champion Simon Wagner won the Rallye Weiz and took the lead ahead of Hermann Neubauer before the final run / The Historical EM went to Hungary’s Tibor Erdi / Opel-Electric victory for Max Reiter.
This year’s edition of Rallye Weiz had a premiere character. The long-standing tradition of the feudal opening party on the eve of the motorsport spectacle in Europa-Allee was marked by rain, an unprecedented event. Despite this, fans maintained their anticipation and arrived in large numbers, attesting to the uniqueness of the rally. “This was once again an incredible commitment from the local population to the Rallye Weiz,” OK boss Mario Klammer was pleased with the enormous turnout despite the dampness.
In addition to being run for the Austrian national championship and for the fourth time in a row a FIA European Historic Rally Championship (EHCR) and European Rally Trophy (ERT), the motorsport highlight in Eastern Styria once again hosted the German ADAC Opel Electronic Rally Cup, thus the only full-electric brand cup worldwide. Moreover, they were particularly proud to host the Continental winners of FIA Rally Star, the World Motorsport Federation’s youth program, exclusively in Weiz. With teams from distant countries such as Australia, South Africa, Peru, Oman, and Estonia, the internationality of the Rallye Weiz grew to 19 different nations. The event was again organized by the Rallye Club Steiermark with its entire staff.
The JUFA Hotel Weiz, in close proximity to the already familiar service and start area at Gasthof Strobl, proved its worth as a modern rally headquarters, where the rally management, timing, media center, and meeting room for the present stewards of FIA and AMF were located.
During the race days Friday and Saturday, under midsummer and dry conditions, top-class rally sports were offered to the large number of fans storming the special stages. Mario Klammer: “I would like to thank the many fans for making Rallye Weiz a real festival again and for their exemplary discipline. I would also like to thank our sponsors, the many helpers from the fire department, police, and rescue services. I would also like to say a huge thank you to the local communities, the city of Weiz, and our own team of officials, who worked tirelessly even before and during the event despite the heat.”
In the scorching heat of Weiz, Simon Wagner remained ice cold. This is how one could describe the appearance of the national champion in Eastern Styria. The Upper Austrian went through the tests with the precision of a clockwork in his Skoda Fabia RS Rally2. 13 in total, of which he won 11 and, by triumphing, caught up with his fiercest title competitor, Hermann Neubauer, in season victories (two each). Thus heralding the absolute showdown in mid-September at the final Bucklige-Welt-Rallye.
Third place, and thus also the award for the best Styrian, went to Günther Knobloch, who had a great head-to-head with Raimund Baumschlager and Kevin Raith for at least one day. However, Baumschlager dropped out of the rally with a rollover this morning, and Raith was slowed down by a defect. Nonetheless, Knobloch stayed focused and achieved his goal of a podium finish.
Victorious Simon Wagner (Skoda Fabia RS Rally2): “This win was incredibly important to me. This sets up the anticipated ‘final showdown’ with Hermann in the last rally. The heat was intense, but I managed to block it out. A win in Weiz is always special. Big praise to the organizers for the great rally.”
Second Hermann Neubauer (Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo): “I was not at a thousand percent this time. But you have to be to beat Simon. Nothing happened with second place. The fact that there will be a title finale in Krumbach was also to be expected before the Weiz rally, which, by the way, was again superbly organized.”
Third Günther Knobloch (Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo): “Perfect, I’m very happy. We wanted to make it to the podium here, and here we are. I realistically realized that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the first two unless something major happened. But to establish oneself as the third force without even reaching the limit is a nice thing. I feel sorry for Raimund, otherwise, it would have been a cooler fight.”
Fourth Kevin Raith (Ford Fiesta Rally2): “It’s annoying because definitely, more would have been possible. But yesterday a tire was damaged and today a servo defect, then somehow the air was out. The fourth place is just the golden pineapple. But at least I’m the best Weizer or the best Obergreither or at least the district champion . . .”
The Rally Stars brought in by the FIA youth program put on a refreshingly good performance. With the Estonian Romet Jürgenson, the Peruvian Jose Abelardo Caparo Sorolla, and the Australian Taylor Gill, three of the junior drivers finished in the top ten with their Ford Fiesta Rally3.
In the 2WD category, the young German Timo Schulz (Opel Corsa Rally4) surprisingly took the win ahead of his team boss Luca Waldherr, who was already confirmed as the new national champion. He took comfort in his second protegé, Styrian Fabian Zeiringer, finishing just 2.8 seconds behind him.
FIA European Rally Trophy (ERT):
The final result of the FIA European Rally Trophy is virtually identical to the overall result of Rallye Weiz. Simon Wagner ahead of Hermann Neubauer and Günther Knobloch.
FIA European Historic Rally Championship (EHRC):
Hungary’s Tibor Erdi was the dominant man in this year’s Historic European Championship in Weiz. The Ford Sierra driver, who has also made a good impression in the ERC, won 12 of the total 13 special stages and eventually distanced his first pursuer by well over a minute. This was the Italian “Lucky”, who was on the starting line with the world-famous co-driver Fabrizia Pons (1982 runner-up world champion with Michelle Mouton) in a Lancia Delta Integrale. After the early technical failure of Austria’s four-time European champion Karl Wagner (Porsche 911) after only one special stage, Styrian Gert Göberndorfer was left to represent the red-white-red colors best. With his Opel Ascona 400, he drove to an excellent fifth overall thanks to a particularly strong second day.
ADAC Opel Electric Rally Cup:
In the Opel Electric Rally Cup, only 11 special stages were completed due to charging reasons. The German Max Reiter won ahead of the Swede Calle Carlberg, thereby extending his overall lead. Lower Austrian Luca Pröglhöf put on a strong performance and justified his third place in the class standings. On Saturday, Upper Austrian Julian Wagner also made his debut in an Opel Corsa-e. Wagner, however, who drove in front of the entire field to ensure that no charging times were lost, did not participate in the scoring.
Rallye Weiz 2023, ADAC Opel Electric Rally Cup final standings after 11 special stages:
- Max Reiter (GER) – Opel Corsa-e
- Calle Carlberg (SWE) – Opel Corsa-e
- Luca Pröglhöf (AUT) – Opel Corsa-e
Simon Wagner’s victory in the main race also assured him of the leading position in the Austrian national championship, with just one more race to go. The tight competition promises an exciting showdown between Wagner and Neubauer at the final rally.
Despite the unusual conditions and the intense heat, the 2023 Rallye Weiz lived up to its reputation as one of the highlights of the European rally calendar. The race was characterized by high-speed competition, impressive performances, and a strong display of international rally talent. With top-notch drivers and teams from all corners of the world, it was a thrilling spectacle for motorsport enthusiasts and a testament to the sport’s continuing popularity and growth. The organizers, as well as the local communities and sponsors, deserve commendation for their tremendous efforts in making this event a success under such challenging conditions. We look forward to the next edition!
Translated from German.
Rallye Weiz 2023
Armin Holenia, Wolfgang Nowak
Photos : Harald Illmer