ADAC Eifel Rallye Festival – The rally festival in Daun

  • Over one hundred and sixty historic rally cars entertain tens of thousands of fans
  • Rally friends celebrate their sport bridging all national and language borders
  • Charity: €3,007 raised for Nestwärme e.V.

The ADAC Eifel Rallye Festival (July 27th/29th, 2023) is now past, the teams have taken down their colourful tents in the city centre of Daun, which has been transformed into the Rally Mile. The more than one hundred and sixty original and faithfully reproduced cars from the history of rallying once again attracted tens of thousands of fans from Europe – and beyond – to the Volcanic Eifel. The VIP’s present were World Champion Stig Blomqvist, Rauno Aaltonen, Bruno Thiry, Kalle Grundel, Nicky Grist, Harald Demuth, Rui Madeira, Rudi Stohl and Niki Schelle all of whom fulfilled countless autograph requests. WRC star Thierry Neuville travelled from his pre-rally testing in Finland to be present at the spectacular performances of his brothers Yannik Neuville and Tom Heindrichs in a Ford Fiesta WRC and Citroën DS3 WRC that Thierry used to drive himself in the WRC. Many people had arranged to meet at the Eifel Rallye Festival for what is certainly one of the world's largest reunions of historic rallying. Everything was as usual, and even the weather had a few rain surprises in store at the beginning, but then adapted to the good mood of participants and fans. "Rallying is an outdoor sport, even a little rain doesn't stop a real fan," as Bruno Thiry explained the huge number of fans along the stages.

Reinhard Klein: Thrilled and speechless
"I am thrilled and speechless," said Reinhard Klein (Cologne), who as the head of Slowly Sideways puts together the entry list. "The rush to enter our Festival, the diversity of the cars and the renewed increase in the quality of the entry is very gratifying. More and more people are taking the history of rallying seriously, they practically live it and emulate their personal heroes. And they simply have fun together, crossing all national and linguistic borders. Our goal is to offer the right platform for this – and more and more we seem to be succeeding."
Similarly, Thierry Neuville says, "Here at the Eifel Rallye Festival you will only find people who live for this sport. It is not only the older ones, some of whom have experienced it live, but more and more younger people. For all of them, this Festival is an absolute highlight of the year." The multiple WRC vice-champion added, "For me, it's a huge pleasure to see my two brothers having fun here in my former cars. These wonderful machines are usually kept in the garage, so it doesn't do any harm if they are driven in a manner appropriate to their history here. Besides, it's completely stress-free on the demonstration stages, as it's all about the fun and not the time." Yannik Neuville confirms: "Those were the best days in my life so far and the Festival was the perfect stage for that."

Otmar Anschütz: Impressive discipline from participants and fans alike
The fact that the joy of the Festival was transmitted to all participants and ensured a consistently good atmosphere was also confirmed by organisation manager Otmar Anschütz from the MSC Daun: "It is really impressive to witness the discipline exhibited by the spectators and participants alike at this Festival. With such a huge crowd and a big field of participants yet there were no problems at all. In addition, we had to squeeze things in on the Rally Mile, so that as many teams as possible could participate. No matter where a problem did crop up, it was discussed briefly and there were simple, amicable solutions to be found. Simply brilliant cooperation from everyone involved." Anschütz added: "I would like to take this opportunity to thank the tolerance of the local residents who were so understanding about the 'siege' of Daun and the restrictions. A big ‘thank-you’ also goes to our more than seven hundred volunteers. Without them, such a major event would not be possible."
There was a brief pause right at the beginning on Thursday during the shakedown in Bodenbach. A fan collapsed in the spectator area. Two nurses who happened to be present started resuscitation and fought for his life. The Shakedown was immediately interrupted and the organiser's rescue service was brought on the scene and the patient was transported to hospital where the doctors could take over further care. Later, from the hospital came the positive information that the patient had survived this event without any permanent damage.

The stories of the stars
At the Welcome Evening on Thursday at the open-air cinema by cult filmmaker Helmut Deimel, presenter Markus Stier elicited exciting and very entertaining stories from the VIP guests present. Here are some examples:
With four WRC victories to date (three times with Michelle Mouton and once with Piero Liatti), the Italian Fabrizia Pons is the most successful woman in the history of the World Rally Championship. In the Eifel, she navigated World Champion Stig Blomqvist in an Audi Sport Quattro S1 over the demonstration stages. "I still drive more than twenty rallies a year, I just can't stop. There are a lot of women in rallying between now and then, but I'm still waiting for the new top team that is all women to emerge. She added: "The victory in 1997 in the Impreza with Liatti at the Monte was nice, also because it was the first success with the new WRC cars. Otherwise, success in the Monte wasn't that important to me, I would have preferred to win the Safari once, but that never worked out."
On the myth of the Monte Carlo Rally, Rauno Aaltonen, who won there in 1967 in a Mini Cooper, added: "The Monte is not the most difficult rally, but it's by far the most prestigious – and it's where the best prize money is." After the Mini Coopers were disqualified from the first three places in 1966 for not having standard bulbs in their headlights, Aaltonen had prepared assiduously for the 1967 edition. "I practised the longest special stage in the Ardèche for a fortnight, day and night, in all weathers. Then in the competition I was two minutes faster than everyone else. But the organisation thought there was a mistake in the timekeeping and cut two minutes off my time, but it was still enough to win."
During the evening, the first lecture on physics in rallying was given by Professor Rauno Aaltonen: He had won his home rally at the 1000 Lakes in Finland in 1961 with a Mercedes 220 SE. "That was my father's road car with the production engine. I built my own sump-guard, which was mounted to the car on rubber. When landing after the many crests with a sump-guard fixed directly to the chassis, the driver always blacks out briefly due to the hard impact. That was not the case with the rubber-mounted protection. In addition, I always tried to land like a cat on one wheel and at a slight angle. To do this, I adjusted the suspension and lost a little less time with each jump. That's how it was enough to win against all the Saabs."
World Champion Nicky Grist won the RAC Rally in 1993 and 1997, sitting alongside Juha Kankkunen in his 1993 World Championship year. In the Eifel, he was driving the original Toyota Celica from that year himself. For his 1997 victory, he then sat alongside Colin McRae. "That was a special victory when you win together with a compatriot at your home race. But no matter what, at the RAC it was always important above all to have a good heater in the car."
Bruno Thiry, the long-time World Championship driver and 2003 European Champion drove an original 1987 Safari VW Golf GTI from Wolf-Dieter Ihle's collection. The newly retired man has been to the Festival several times as a spectator, now it finally worked out to be able to enter and drive. "I have another project in my garage for my retirement - an original Citroën Visa Mille Pistes from Group B. It hasn't been driven for a long time."
In 1986, Kalle Grundel was on the verge of his first WRC victory. At the Acropolis Rally he was leading by over two minutes in a works Ford RS 200 until an unsolvable problem at the Ford service brought about his retirement. "In that situation I cried like a baby." Looking at John Wheeler, also present and responsible for the RS200 project at Ford, he added: "During a test, John and I found out how to win with the RS200. When the stages are as rough as they are in Greece, you just have to go flat-out as the car can take it."
Rally globetrotter Rudi Stohl ("everything is always different in Africa") and Rauno Aaltonen shared some stories from Africa. Great laughter was generated when Aaltonen told of a tough test of friendship with his long-time co-pilot Lofty Drews – who was also present in Daun – and he also had to smile. "There were foot rests on the rear bumper at the back of the Capri and hand holds at the top of the roof so that the co-driver could stand on them. Thus when driving through mud holes his weight increased the pressure on the rear axle and thus the traction. We also called this 'The French Toilet' because of the co-driver's funny posture. A bump in a mud hole sent Lofty over the car headfirst into the mud. I couldn't stop, though, or we would have been stuck. So Lofty had to wade through the mud after me. When he got into the car he was covered in mud, with only his teeth flashing white."

Winners even without best times
One of the secrets of the Eifel Rally Festival's success is its lack of timekeeping on the stages. Nevertheless, winners are always crowned at the grand finale on Saturday evening. Only this is done according to very different criteria, which nevertheless caused many surprises and happy faces. The prize for the best original vehicle went to Robert Whitehouse with his Lancia Rallye 037, which had been Fabrizio Tabaton's car at the 1984 Sanremo Rally. This vehicle, which is now very valuable, is mostly only to be seen in a museum. The prize was presented by Yvonne Mehta, who had also navigated Whitehouse through the Eifel. The 'Champion's Choice', the choice of the VIPs present, fell on the beautiful Lancia Delta S4 of Rolf Wyss and Oswald Backes. The prize was presented by World Champion Stig Blomqvist. The 'Best replication' prize was awarded to the Belgians Adalbert Engler / Eva Smets for their Ford Mustang by rally professor Rauno Aaltonen. For the first time, the 'Sideways Star' for the 'most sideways' competitor did not go to a team from the advance car squad. In a close decision between many contenders, the jury chose Yannik Neuville and co-driver Joshua Sonnet, who had driven the Ford Fiesta WRC in an impressive manner. The prize was presented by acknowledged drift expert Niki Schelle. The most beautiful vehicle of the 2023 Festival edition was the very rare Opel GT of Josef and Monika Schöderle from the 1973 German Rally Championship. The prize was presented by two-time DRM champion Harald Demuth. A special prize was awarded to Team Portugal. The four crews had brought their cars to the Eifel all together on a single car transporter. Led by 1995 Group N World Champion Rui Madeira in the Mitsubishi Lancer were Paolo Pimentel Torres (Datsun 160 J), Carlos Pinho (Ford Escort RS Cosworth) and Victor Lopes in the Citroën CX. They received their prizes of honour from the hands of Kenyan Safari legend Mike Kirkland.

Charity: €3,007 raised for Nestwärme e.V.
Another 'building block' for the creation of a hospice for children was given to Petra Moske, founder and first chairwoman of Nestwärme e.V. Germany. The auction of the co-driver rides with Stig Blomqvist, Harald Demuth, Bruno Thiry, Harri Toivonen and Niki Schelle raised €3,007. "You are the greatest," Moske called out to the fans during the Welcome Evening. Otmar Anschütz, organiser of the Eifel Rally Festival and chairman of the MSC Daun, handed over the cheque on behalf of the organisers. "It is a cherished tradition that we also support organisations like Nestwärme with our Festival. The bidder for the ride with Stig Blomqvist came to us from Tokyo, a proof of the international interest in our event."

Still going on until 06.08.23: Auction of the festival gondola of the Hintertux glacier cable car
Anyone who has ever been on the Hintertux Glacier may have sat in the gondola with the ID number #53. Now it is standing in Daun in the middle of the Rally Mile and is being auctioned off to the highest bidder. But not just like that. Before the event started, three-time ski world champion Nicole 'Niki' Hosp signed the gondola and then during the Eifel Rallye Festival, the autographs of all the stars including that of World Champion Stig Blomqvist were added. With its additional built-in table, it is suitable as a special party location for eight people. Here you can go directly to the auction:

Wanted: The best photo of the Eifel Rally Festival 2023
The photo competition of the Eifel Rallye Festival will take place again this year. Attractive prizes await the winners, including a copies of the official book "Eifel Rallye Festival 2011-2022" with VIP autographs. Each winner will also receive a fan package for the Eifel Rallye Festival 2024. The prizes have been made available by the RallyWebShop ( Further details about the photo competition can be found here:

Eifel Rally Festival 2011-2022 – The definitive book.
The official book about the first ten editions of the Eifel Rally Festival is not just a simple chronicle. With the stars of the scene from the past and present and with the most beautiful original cars and replicas from rally history, it is, so to speak, a Who's Who of the sport. Within its pages are the highlights from ten years of the Festival with cars that are normally never seen outside museums, such as the Group S Audi, the rebuilt Safari Stratos and exotics ranging from the Jidé to the Clan Crusader. There is a unique cross-section of rally history with the older classics from Mini and Volvo PV544 to Group 4 legends like the Stratos and the Ascona 400, not forgetting the amazing Group B monsters, the stars of Group A from Lancia to Subaru as well as the spectacular World Rally Cars. The bilingual texts (German and English) and the many photos in the 300-page work are completed by numerous tables and lists of starters and cars from the ten years. The foreword is written by long-time patron Walter Röhrl in which he recalls his own impressions of the Festival. Here is the order link at the RallyWebShop: