He was close several times, now he has finally done it. At the Rallye Vosges Grand-Est, Calle Carlberg at last clinched his first victory in the ADAC Opel Electric Rally Cup “powered by GSe”.
In the first special stage, the 22-year-old Swede and his father Torbjörn took the lead in their Corsa Rally Electric and held it until the finish.
By then, Carlberg and the rest of the field had endured a highly demanding and eventful rally. The difficult roads, which were partly littered with stones and dirt from the four-wheel drive cars in front, took their toll on most of the Corsa Rally Electric and led to frequent tyre damage. “The stages are great, but extremely demanding,” confirmed overall leader Max Reiter. “When 50 all-wheel drive cars have gone over it, there ruts and dirt that you don’t have in the pace notes. You really have to be prepared for anything.”
Hardly any driver got through the eight special stages completely unscathed. In the third-to-last stage, it was a broken control arm that reduced Carlberg’s lead over Reiter to just 6.8 seconds. In the penultimate stage “Corcieux”, the Scandinavian did well again and went into the final “Power Stage” with a lead of 17.7 seconds over his main rival.
There Carlberg safely drove home his debut victory in the world’s first electric one-make rally cup: “At last! The key to success here was that everyone else had some kind of problem and we didn’t even slide off. I’m really happy that this controlled pace was enough to win. We didn’t really push ourselves to the limit on the Power Stage either, I was almost surprised that we set the best time again. I really enjoyed the fight with Max – but I’m almost glad that he’s still ahead in the table. Then I don’t have to be the first to start in Weiz…”
Reiter paid tribute to his opponent: “Calle clearly deserved the win. After two very consistent rallies, I made a few too many small mistakes here. But I’m very happy with another podium finish and I’m looking forward to the next rounds.”
Austrian Luca Pröglhöf was the only man in the service park who did not know throughout the rally that he was on course for his first podium finish in the ADAC Opel Electric Rally Cup. His co-driver Christina Ettel had refused her driver any information about the special stage times – by mutual agreement. “We thought about this strategy on the way home from the last rally in Switzerland, hoping to take some of the pressure off Luca. It worked perfectly,” laughed Ettel.
Pröglhöf/Ettel could also thank their service crew, who replaced the damaged rear axle in no time at all after SS4. The partial failure of the intercom system in the cockpit also caused a concern. Pröglhöf was relieved when he reached the finish line: “It was almost overdue. I think not focusing on the times but driving my own rally is the way to go. Just have fun, then the result will come almost by itself. But some weight has now fallen from my shoulders.”
In fourth place, the FFSA women’s duo Sarah Rumeau/Julie Amblard once again made a strong impression.
In the standings, Reiter’s lead over Carlberg has shrunk to one point. Pröglhöf is now third ahead of Rumeau, Lemke and Jari van Hoof, who also impressed with fifth place.
“This rally was extremely tough,” concluded the head of Opel Motorsport, Jörg Schrott. “The stages left their mark, but our Corsa Rally Electric mastered the hardships very well. Big compliments also to our teams, who sometimes slightly dented their cars but got them to the finish line in one piece. And the fight for the podium places was once again dramatic. I think we are all happy for Calle who absolutely deserved his first win. I look forward to his future duels with Max and the rest of this great squad. I would like to emphasize Sarah Rumeau’s great performance once again. Our ladies are a real asset to the cup.”
The fourth round of the ADAC Opel Electric Rally Cup “powered by GSe” takes place on July 14/15 at the Rallye Weiz in Austria.
Standings ADAC Opel Electric Rally Cup (after 3 of 8 rounds):
1. Reiter 92 points.
2. Carlberg 91.
3. Pröglhöf 59.
4. Rumeau 57.
5. Lemke 46.
6. Van Hoof 38.
7. Tarta 31.
8. Gudet 30.
9. Callea 27.
10. Rott 26.