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Mille Miglia - Newcomer starts in the DKW Monza team: three cylinders, two cycles, one goal.

Franz-Peter Hudek
Mille Miglia 2012 - Newcomer at DKW Monza
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W we are really in Rome ? In the morning at two in front of Castel Sant'Angelo? The photos prove it: We didn't dream.

The rally before the rally

The Audi team awaits me on Thursday around 11 a.m. in the huge hall of the Brixia Expo on the outskirts with a sparkling clean, Ferrari-red DKW Monza. The cute plastic coupé offers plenty of space inside and looks really aggressive with its raised rear. Its three-cylinder two-stroke engine produces 50 whirring horsepower, which we later have to mercilessly whip in order to be able to manage the tightly calculated stage times. But that wasn't quite clear to me now, because I was more prepared for a trip to Italy than in an old Cinzano advertisement: strolling, looking, lingering. After all, we head for all the famous cities between Brescia and Rome, so some culture and dolce vita shouldn't be neglected.

You can cross the intersection even when the traffic lights are red; The police want it that way

Driver and team boss Thomas Frank, he is the head of Audi Tradition (Audi Classic Department with Musuem), is participating in the Mille Miglia for the fifth time and therefore knows them Processes. This also applies to the trip from the exhibition grounds to downtown Brescia under the protection of the police. For this purpose, around 20 rally cars gather, which are smuggled through the city in a convoy. Motorcycle policemen block the cross streets and intersections on the fly until the classic cars are through. The rally participants learn the first and most important lesson of the Mille: You can even cross the intersection when the traffic light is red; the police want it that way.

The closer we get to the historic old town of Brescia, the greater the crowds on the roadside. The enthusiastic spectators greet us in the narrow streets as if we had the rally behind us and every car was a winning car. But it is the same jubilation with which the fighting bulls are greeted in Spain, which will later end their lives. However, I've only known that since I arrived at the destination.

Souvenir rally and cappuccino time

Still The Dolce-Vita prevails: We collect the sponsors' gifts for participants on the Piazza della Loggia directly in the loggia and in modern market stalls: the famous, covetedChopard watch with an embossed start number, the value of which is almost 5,000 euros, which dramatically puts the entry fees for the Mille Miglia of 7,260 euros per team (with accommodation and meals) into perspective. Then the chic racing blouson from Stefano Ricci, a serving set from the cheese specialist Grana Padano, shoe insoles from Ergymax (no joke) and a lot more. Heavily packed like Madonna after a shopping tour through Milan, we return to the Volkswagen Group's paddock, which has lined up its Bentley, Audi /DKW, Porsche and Volkswagen racing cars on Piazza Paolo VI opposite the old and new cathedral. And by the way: The sponsor gifts from the Mille Miglia teams from Volkswagen (factory employees, journalists and other guests) will be auctioned for a charitable cause during the year.

We study a little with Capuccino and Dolce Phonebook thick, black road book. Oh, it won't be that bad, the sun is shining, people are streaming through the alleys, relaxing in the overcrowded cafés and in between the brightly colored bodies of the 382 parked rally cars shine. We are starting number 333 and therefore always almost two hours after starting number one. Thus, our Mille will above all become “Italy by night”. Without Cinzano on the rocks, of course.

Finally: It starts!

No, not yet. First, the rally pack meets on the gravel square of the Mille Miglia Museum, which must have once been a huge estate. In the former stables with beautiful vaulted ceilings there is the last supper before the three-day martyrdom, which at first seems harmless: the total of eight rally stages can be mastered with an average of a little more than 45 km /h, you can actually manage that with links. And a total of 1,498.32 kilometers in three days can't really scare you. However, the first day is actually already over, the start will not take place until 6:45 p.m.

The rally cars are now parked on Viale Venezia to get down from the ramp every 20 seconds into the Falling dawn. The vehicles of the late fifties, to which our DKW Monza belongs, form a wonderfully absurdly colorful field: red flounders like a Ferrari 750 Monza (also part of the family), then the small, snappy Abarth Zagato coupés, but also large ones and small sedans such as VW Beetle, Fiat 1100, Renault 4CV and even a mighty, but always a bit sleepy-looking DS. A BMW 507 lets its water run free after previous exertions or because of excessive nervousness.

Now we are standing on the ramp in front of the black wall with the many sponsor stickers. We are introduced by name over the loudspeaker. Then my pilot shifts into first gear, falls off the ramp at full throttle and is a different person from now on. By engaging first gear(Steering wheel shift, upper level down) the always friendly and level-headed Thomas Frank transforms into a reincarnation of Tazio Novulari with only one goal in mind: to get the most out of his car and to drive the red two-stroke almost constantly at the limit. Only the DKW-typical freewheel will later allow the Ingolstadt Kawa machine to take a few breaks, at least downhill. Actually, I should have been warned by the fingerless driver's gloves that Thomas put on his fingers shortly before the start.

The hunt through the streets

The drive out of Brescia into the Italian night begins with the chase through a narrow alley between the crowds. It all reminded me of the Rally Portugal in the early 1990s. Cheers and waving arms send clear signals: Let's go, speed, Avanti. If you dawdle, you will be washed away through the open car window. Or it was the friendly touch of a divine, a Mille Miglia participant, which is worth more to the Mille fan than the papal blessing in front of St. Peter's Basilica. After countless roundabouts, we pound through Sirmione, which has turned into the only street café, at monkey pace. German tourists greet us with their filled wheat beer glasses as they drive past. The night stage of the first day finally ends after 261 kilometers around 2 a.m. in Ferrara.

On the road again, second day of the rally. After the first special stages and driving through the old town, it becomes clear to me: They cost us so much time that we really have to get the most out of our Monza on the connecting stages in order to achieve the specified times for the stage goals. The apparently casual 45 km /h average cannot be achieved if you behave like normal people in normal traffic. So: step on the gas and constantly overtake where there is enough space. The Italians, who drive their everyday cars, know that the Mille is coming and has right of way. Even big trucks on country roads do their best to let Ferrari, Maserati and Co. pass by. Nevertheless, you have to pay attention to everything that is on the road without a car.

In the big cities, half the population rushed to the Mille Miglia. In Siena again only a narrow street opens up for the rally cars that hobble over the shell-shaped Piazza del Campo. And after arriving in Rome near Castel Sant'Angelo, thousands of Mille Miglia visitors stand at the edge of the route at two o'clock in the morning and honor us with their flashing lightning storm. Perhaps this is where the Mille Miglia magic works best when the rally cars park together with a view of St. Peter's Basilica and the drivers talk to one another or to the audience. Yes. it warms your heart.

Last day in a vegetative state

The demands of the Mille Miglia on the rally teams are increasing day by day. In the end there are four stagesa total of 675 kilometers on the map. Only country road with many city passages. The pure travel target time is 15 hours and 35 minutes. Actually only questions remain after returning to my office in Stuttgart, this Sabato 19 Maggio 2012 seems so unreal to me: Was there really this idiot horde of marauding, monstrous Mercedes SLR-McLaren who rolled up the field from behind and joined them the rally cars cheated through the old towns? Did we really complete an almost four-kilometer time trial on gravel, after which all the cars looked like Dakar rally off-roaders? Did we really crash through the Ferrari factory premises in Maranello at dusk and did a time trial on the test track? Have we also been to the Maserati site in Modena? Was the earthquake in the hotel or before it? Was there really a duel between chefs: Lafer in a Jaguar against lights in a Ferrari? Did we even cross the finish line in Brescia at around two o'clock on Sunday morning? Apparently it does: The results list on the Internet tells us that we have landed in 202nd place. So we actually didn't just dream.

P.S. All information about the Mille 2012 including all 382 cars started in the picture on the website www.1000miglia.eu

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