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Carrera Panamericana: Two lively girls in Mexico

Dino Eisele
Carrera Panamericana
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D he MXC 200 coastal road connects the Mexican seaside resort of Huatulco with the port city of Salina Cruz, winds in tight curves through the foothills of the Sierra Madre del Sur above the Pacific Ocean and is lined with large yucca and coconut trees. Very nice from a tourist point of view, certainly, as the first full-throttle special stage in a rally driver's career, but quite a challenge.

Fast special stages are easier than regularity tests

All the more remarkable that the Porsche drivers Daniela Wagner and Silvia Lindner their first 7, Approach 7 kilometers at the prison border surprisingly relaxed. 'At the start, I was less excited than in a regularity test,' says Daniela Wagner and explains: 'Driving fast is basically easier than a special stage on regularity with a stopwatch, table and trip master, above all you don't have to do the first few meters be on average. ' And not necessarily at the absolute limit, after all, there are a total of 43 special stages with a length of seven to 30 kilometers waiting for the seven days to the finish line in Nuevo Laredo, 3,643 kilometers away on the Rio Bravo on the border with the USA. You can still catch up a lot of time.

And that you don't win a rally on the first special stage has to be discovered by an American team that crumples its Lincoln on a rock face in the second corner. Only two of her compatriots are even better, throwing their car away on the way to the technical inspection. Daniela, on the other hand, takes it easy on this first test, which after acceptance serves as a qualification for tomorrow's start - about 70 percent, as the Swabian thinks. The clerk neatly circled the blue and silver Porsche 911 between the palm trees and along the rock faces, in the end that was enough for rank 51 out of 102 participants. There should still be something in it.

The two women realized their dream of the Carrera Panamericana

But why is a Swabian women's team looking for them? Carrera Panamericana as the first full-throttle rally - you don't climb Nanga Parbat just because you want to sniff some mountain air? 'It was always a dream, at some point we really wanted to do it,' says Silvia Lindner and adds: 'The Carrera Panamericana is appealing because it is the one of all rallieshas the worst reputation. '

That, in turn, dates back to the fifties: in 1950, the race led from north to south for the first time on the recently completed Mexican part of the Panamericana and at around 3,500 kilometers was more than twice as long The Mille Miglia, however, was driven in several stages, as it is today. Only series sedans were allowed at the premiere, so an Oldsmobile 88 with the Americans Hershel McGriff and Ray Elliott at the wheel won Sports cars closed, making the Carrera Panamericana safe prey for the Europeans: In 1951 Piero Taruffi and Luigi Chinetti won in a Ferrari 212, in 1952 - despite colliding with a vulture - the Germans Karl Kling and Hans Klenk in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. The following year Juan Manuel Fangio entered the list of winners in the Lancia D24, Umberto Maglioli in the Ferrari 375 in 1954.

The Carrera Panamericana was between For the time being banned

But then the government pulled the emergency brake because of too many fatal accidents and banned the endurance race, which has since become part of the World Sports Car Championship. It was not revived until 1988, eleven years after the Mille Miglia - and in contrast to most classic events, the Mexicans remain true to the simple full throttle rating: Whoever can finish work first after the 43 special stages wins - that's it. In order to reduce the risk of accidents, the organizer imposes strict safety regulations: Basically, the regulations for historic vehicles up to 1965 largely correspond to Appendix K of the FIA, including the Turismo Mayor class cars - specially built Panamericana vehicles with modern technology under historical Sheet metal - meet the current safety regulations.

For this purpose, the crews of open classics have to fasten their arms to the floor with rubber cords so that they are protected in the event of a rollover. In closed cars there are safety nets in front of the window openings, and of course you drive with the cervical spine protection Hans - which requires a certain logistics when getting in and out: 'You develop an automatism - first clip in helmet and Hans, then plug in the side net, then buckle up' , explains Silvia. And all that at 40 degrees in the shade and 75 percent humidity.

The shipping of the Porsche 911 cost 9,000 euros

At least they do their mission vehicle Conditions do not matter: The 1965 911 was once built by specialist Heini Feustel for the Trial to the Nile through the Middle East, which Silvia's husband Pit Lindner (known as the organizer of the Süd-West Classic) competed in 2002. In the rear, a six-cylinder engine with a healthy 180 hp, edited by Manfred Rugen, howls. 'From 3,800 revolutions upwards, it really takes hold,' says Daniela. It took 21 days and around 9,000 euros to ship the911 from Rotterdam. At least the car arrived safely in Veracruz, albeit a day too late.

Hubertus von Wangenheim and Maximilian Hambloch, on the other hand, had more bad luck, whose Opel Diplomat engine suffered a bearing damage right before embarkation. In a hurry, the Würzburg company procured a 5.7 liter performance engine from GM, which with 385 hp delivered around 20 units less than the previous 5.4 liter racing machine. 'Unfortunately, the GM unit has light alloy cylinder heads that are not allowed. That is why we were removed from the historical rating,' says von Wangenheim. It's actually a shame, because with his times on the special stages, the 57-year-old could have been at the forefront.

Bernd Langewiesche rents a Ford Falcon

on site

Bernd Langewiesche completely avoids all the effort involved in setting up the vehicle and shipping it and without further ado rents a Ford Falcon on site, which is not much more expensive than the ship passage. Like von Wangenheim, the Westphalian is participating in the Carrera Panamericana for the second time. 'I would like to have attended all the big events once,' he says and enthuses: 'Mexico is quite an experience - especially the way the spectators play along here and hug their children at every stop in order to photograph them.' Above all, Langewiesche is here to accelerate, and he does it with his usual skill: Led by Wolfgang Hurth, he repeatedly puts the Falcon in front positions and finally reaches 18th place overall and 2nd place in the Historic C class behind another Falcon - without a clutch damage would have been even more possible.

Daniela and Silvia also do not spoil themselves and often drive their Porsche far into the top third of the results lists. The rally notes in the road book for the special tests, which co-driver Silvia reads out on the special stage, ensure an adrenaline rush in between. The scale ranges from zero to four. Zero means full, a four on the left is a 180 degree turn to the left. 'Unfortunately, one on the right three looks different on the sixth day than on the first', she grins - which is why long-time professionals drive the route beforehand and create their own notes.

The women's team is plagued by technical defects

It is not just the notes that cause excitement in the women's team, but also the gear that gives up on the fourth stage from Queretaro to San Luis Potosi: in the 20.77, of all places Kilometer long Tequisquipan test, Daniela has to hold the gear stick in third gear and heave the 911 with one arm around the hairpin bends. 'After that, I had sore muscles for days,' she says. In the evening, the 911 receives a replacement transmission from the parts pool it has brought with it - but it is too short for the long test on the seventh day, for which a section of the motorway is closed behind Monterrey.

Here, Stig Blomqvist is in theStudebaker Commander measured a proud 301 km /h. With the latest racing technology and a 600 hp V8 under the old sheet metal, the rally world champion from 1984 wins most of the tests and confidently secures overall victory with his co-driver Ana Goni from Venezuela. Daniela Wagner and Silvia Lindner make it to 28th place overall and are the second best German team behind Langewiesche /Kurth. And for the future, the fast women already have something in mind: 'We heard something about the Targa Tasmania - we should take a closer look at that.'


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