A weekend of superlatives at the Gruppe B Rallyelegenden
Five Group-S-cars, a spectacular hillclimb, more than 8.000 visitors at the „Night of Thunder“ – the Gruppe B Rallyelegenden in Saalfelden surpassed itself again.
This years Gruppe B Rallyelegenden in Saalfelden proofed to be a great success once again. Several new special stages around the Zell am See area, the world premiere of the Group-S-prototypes and the excellent starting field attracted thousands of motorsport enthusiast to visit the most beautiful Austrian province Salzburg.
The event was launched with the opening of the Group-S-exhibition at the exclusiv „autohaus“-showroom at the Brandlhof. Many media representatives and visitors did not want to miss the unique opportunity to take a look at these rare prototypes. For the first time in rally history people got the chance to gaze at the legendary vehicles of Audi, Toyota, Lancia, Škoda, Opel and Vauxhall all in the same place. The cars were introduced by Anneliese Abarth, the Italian rally legend Giuseppe „Beppe“ Volta and long-time Toyota-official Ernst Kopp.
In the late afternoon the actual start of the rallye took place at the main square of Saalfelden, before the approximately 100 competitors set out for the first special stages.
The first highlight of the event, the „Night of Thunder“ at the Brandlhof, provided an almost Mediterranean atmosphere. To the cheers of more than 8.000 fans Loris Rosati and his 150 hp Ape along with four top pilots of the Austrian drift championship amazed with their vociferous performances. Two-wheel enthusiasts got their money's worth as well: A delegation of the national Supermoto stars led by Speedway legend Franky Zorn performed in an outstanding race.
For the first time in the history of the Gruppe B Rallyelegenden the event was broadcasted live on television. The Austrian sports channel „ORF Sport +“ aired the „Night of Thunder“ until 10 pm in real time. Glowing brake discs, turbo-flames darting from the exhaust pipes accompanied by the exceptional sound of fourty years of rally history created an astonishing atmosphere.
Following the four new special stages in the Zell am See area the drivers faced a special challenge: the „Race on the mountain. The start took place at an altitude of 800 metres. Along a distance of 12,5 kilometers a climb of 1.200 metres had to be overcome. The exhausting drive to the Kaprun power plant group was rewarded with a breathtaking alpine panorama – surrounded by thirteen three-thousanders.
But that's not all: While the drivers mastered the drive down to the valley, thousands of people gathered at the „Hexenkessel“ (witch's cauldron) – the city special stage in the heart of Saalfelden. A new track layout provided better accesability for the rally fans – which was kindly welcomed. The atmosphere boiled, when the three Group-S-prototypes assembled at the start line. The sensationel performance of the contestants – in particular those of the Italian Paolo Diana (Fiat 131) and Loris Rosati – made the crowd erupt in riotous cheers.
Organiser Peter Freisinger and his team alike were very satisfied with the event: „It was sensational again. I want to thank all visitors and drivers for their coming and of course I also want to thank my team for countless hours of hard work and passion which enabled this immaculate event. A big thank you to the authorities, emergency personnel and all helpers. Without their cooperation before and during the rallye, all this wouldn't have been possible“, Freisinger explained cheerfully after the event.