The introduction of a new car to rallycross is usually greeted with excitement by fans and teams alike, but not many new machines have been as eagerly awaited as Rene Munnich’s new Audi S3, which will make it’s FIA World Rallycross Championship debut this weekend at the Estering in Germany, Munnich’s home round of the series.
All-Inkl Racing first announced plans to build the S3 in 2012, but as with any new build from scratch, the process has taken longer than planned, understandably when the squad are often found rushing around the world with their World Touring Car championship campaign. “With our other programs going on, we have always had to do the work as we have had the time. It took long time to build the Audi, and unfortunately we haven’t managed to test and develop as much as we should have done,” explained Munnich, who gave the car it’s debut at the final round of the Rallycross Challenge last week in the Czech Republic, as a shakedown for it’s first World RX appearance. “Last week was not as good as expected, but it was just the final test for the Estering. The weather was terrible, it was raining a lot and it was impossible to drive quickly. It took 2 days to clean the car afterwards.”
Despite limited milage in his new steed, Munnich says the difference between the S3 and his Skoda Fabia II, which he raced at Holjes in July, is a big one. “We’ve only tested four times on different tracks, but we always worked out a good setup for different situations and found always new ideas to improve the car with updated parts. The Audi is very different to the Skoda. It’s very precise even with a very soft setup and you feel small setup changes on this car. You can take much more speed into the corners. That’s because we designed the car more like a tarmac race car, just with more dumper travel. With the Skoda it was only possible to take a corner sideways, which looks nice, but is not quick. You also don’t feel setup changes in it really, sometimes you drove with three tyres as quickly as with four.”
Pleased with what testing they have been able to do, Munnich is cautious about his chances in Germany this weekend and the Italian round of World RX next week. The team will treat the events as extended test sessions. “I think the basis of the car is very good, but to be at the top it will need a bit more time. This year the races are just an extra test to see how we are compared to the other cars and then we will modify the car hopefully in the right way over the winter for the next season. With the amount of starters in Germany, and the possibility in rallycross for things to not go your way, it will be nice to get into the top 20 this weekend. At the tests we always did lap times similar to those of the front runners, but a race weekend is more than just one or two quick laps. We don’t yet have experience of how strong the car will be with contact. At the race in Sosnova last week I damaged the steering in a first corner crash.”
Munnich’s S3 will be the first of it’s kind in the sport, but while the former German Champion enjoys being different, he is more interested in running right at the front of events, and the team are currently evaluating the possibility of racing at the final round of the World RX series in Argentina to continue their development. The amount of events that Munnich will race in next year is still undecided, he will again race full time in the World Touring Car Championship and fit as many World RX events in around that as he can. “The Audi is special in the rally scene, it has a lot of fans so we got a lot of publicity for this project. For sure it is nice to be unique, but maybe it’s more nice to have a car like all the others, but the quickest of all of them. I will try to do Argentina, but November is really busy for us so I’m not 100% sure at the moment. My main programme in 2015 will be WTCC again, so I will only be able to the World RX races if they don’t clash.”
The squad will also field Super1600 cars in Germany and Italy for Munnich’s partner Mandie August and fellow German Clemens Meyer.
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