Matthias Kahle, the driver of a SKODA FABIA Rally2 Evo, has won the Lausitz rally for the sixth time. The native of Görlitz, together with his co-driver Christian Dörr, benefitted from a thrilling final at his home game with a decision in the final meters. It is the seventh victory for a SKODA squad at Central Europe's most significant gravel race. With eighth position for Peter Scharmach / Dietmar Moch in another FABIA Rally2 Evo and ninth place for Petr Kacírek / Petra Riháková in the previous model FABIA Rally5, the Czech manufacturer finished the German rally season on a high note.
The Lausitz rally had a solid international squad with 14 RC2 vehicles and many other turbo all-wheel-drive drivers. Still, the struggle for victory swiftly came to a head in a three-way duel between the Czech Cais, local hero Kahle, and the Norwegian Anders Gröndal. Last year's champion Kahle, the famous spectator circuit 'Arena' set the fastest time with his SKODA FABIA Rally2 Evo on the first particular stage.
Gröndal responded immediately on SS 2 before Cais won the second rounds of these tests as the quickest and finished the stage as the overall leader on Friday evening. On Saturday morning, Kahle once again set a new personal best time. Then Cais came up trumps, winning the following three special stages of the morning loop and returning to Grondal with a margin of 22, 7 seconds for lunch. Matthias Kahle is another 4.7 seconds back.
The decision was made on the afternoon's last four special stages, and once again, Kahle was the quickest, but Cais fought back. After eleven of twelve tests, the Czech appeared to be the clear winner, but a fire in the engine compartment halted him only meters from the finish line, ensuring that the test 'Bärwalder See 2' had to be canceled entirely. Matthias Kahle had good fortune: the Cologne-based driver had lost 3.2 seconds on SS 11 Gröndal and therefore moved up to second place in the overall standings. Because Cais failed, the German record rally champion moved up to the first place and celebrated his sixth triumph in Upper Lusatia with a 1.1-second advantage.
"Rallying may be quite difficult: in order to be first, you must finish first." "A failure in the last few meters is extremely inconvenient, and we completely understand Erik Cais and his co-driver Petr Těšínský's disappointment," says Matthias Kahle. Nonetheless, he and co-driver Christian Dörr are pleased with the result: "In a frontal fight with our long-term opponent Anders Gröndal, we were able to maintain the upper hand - if by a little margin." "It was another fantastic battle, much to the pleasure of the spectators."
"Our rally cars are on the difficult gravel roads surrounding Boxberg, where no brand has had greater success than SKODA." "Congratulations to Matthias Kahle and co-driver Christian Dörr, who won again in their privately used, well-prepared Skoda FABIA Rally2 Evo, despite little competition practice, but with all their routine and the sometimes necessary ounce of luck," says Andreas Leue, on their success with this gravel classic.