After a busy few days of testing, recce and shakedown, the Tuthill Porsche 997 RGT was performing well and headed confidently into the first stage of WRC Rallye Deutschland 2015. For driver, François Delecour and co-driver, Dominique Savignoni, this would be their first run through Germany in the Porsche 997.
Tuthill’s R-GT Porsche made history on Rally Germany last year, when it became the first Porsche 911 to complete a round of the World Rally Championship in twenty-eight years, driven by Richard Tuthill with Stéphane Prevot alongside. The Porsche attracted a huge amount of spectator attention on the narrow vineyard roads and we enjoyed a reliable first WRC rally, so to build on that debut was our target.
The opening stage was a good one for François: “I pushed hard on this stage, so I hope this will be a good time,” he told rally radio at the finish line. Romain Dumas arrived just a few seconds later, having crossed the stage some five seconds faster. The feeling was calm in the team. “Stages one and two are not typical of this rally,” said Richard. “They are more like Belgium: stage three is where Germany starts.”
Stage two started well, but then the car had a spin in the first sector, damaging the front end and putting us further behind: the gap was now almost forty seconds. Romain Dumas had complained about diff issues at the end of stage one, but they seemed to be settled. Meanwhile, François was losing more time, and more parts of the car.
Another off on stage four wiped out part of the rear wing, so Richard jumped in the recce car and headed for Manthey Racing at the Nurburgring. Porsche camaraderie was on our side, as the Manthey team very kindly lent us a rear wing for the rest of the rally.
At the end of the first day’s penultimate stage, we were two and a half minutes behind Dumas. François was keeping the pressure on, but we all had the R-GT Cup title in mind. En route to the final stage of the day, the car was forced to stop on a road section, due to a water leak from a radiator weakened by one of the morning’s excursions. The boys should be able to fix the problem overnight and we hope to continue under Super Rally rules in the morning.
Two days of rallying remain here in Germany and things change quickly out there on the stages. It is not over until der grosser fraulein sings!