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Austrian Rallye Legends 2014

Reinhold Keller and Jens Daniel

The premiere of the Austrian Rallye Legends powered by ARBÖ was a huge success underlining the fact that events for historic rally cars are getting increasingly popular.
“I have not written so many autographs for a very long time. We still had our original cards from the year 2000 and we have issued a lot of them. The whole atmosphere was wonderful”, said Raphael Sperrer after making an amazing show with his Seat Cordoba WRC. The six-times Austrian rally champion was one of the greatest stars during the first edition of the Austrian Rally Legends. And even ex-World Champion Stig Blomqvist, who drove a Ford Falcon, was really emotional – at least for his standards: “It was very nice”, he said.
Event organiser Kurt Gutternigg reviews: “This rally clearly showed the trend towards historic events. The people want to experience the old rally feeling and I think that has worked really well during the premiere of the Austrian Rally Legends. I am really enthusiastic how well this new event was received by the fans.”
Among the 126 participants were 32 Slowly Sideways crews which mainly came from Germany. The idea of running a historic rally car which is built and painted true to the original has not yet found its way to Austria fully yet. We were especially pleased about the entry of Reinhold Keller and Jens Daniel in one of only two known Group B works cars of the Opel Manta 200. We remember with sorrow that Reinhold’s son Sven has passed away this spring with cancer. But his father has taken over the car of his son now and follows in Sven’s footsteps.
During the event, there was also a voting by SMS in which the crews with the most beautiful car and the most spectacular driving style were awarded. The Slowly Sideways group had its own classification and here it was an underdog which came of trumps in the “beauty” contest: The Wartburg 311 of Hans-Peter Lohmann won ahead of the Lancia Stratos of Claus Aulenbacher. The best driving action was delivered by Fred Walter in his Nissan 240RS ahead of Reinhold Keller with his Opel Manta 200.
Obituary for Björn Waldegård
I knew Björn from his first RAC Rally appearance in 1965 until his last appearance on a competitive event - the Safari Classic of 2013. I was reporting rallies during his early successes, particularly the Monte Carlo victories of 1969 and 1970. I never co-drove with him in the proper sense but I did sit beside him on half a dozen 'Slowly Sideways' events in Porsche 911s and Toyota Celica Turbos. A nicer man you could not have wished to meet for whom I think no one could possibly have a bad word. Technically competent concerning the car and a brilliant natural driver behind the wheel, he will be universally mourned. My favourite Waldegård story is a tale once told me by Tony Fall. He was doing the RAC Rally of 1965 in a Mini Cooper S and running just four numbers behind Björn's VW1600. On one of the long stages in Kielder, they came across the VW off the road. Its crew was out the car and working on the problem but Tony didn't think to see them again. Then towards the end of the stage, the lights of a faster car came up behind them and the Mini pulled over to let it through. It was, as you might have guessed, the Waldegård Volkswagen! John Davenport
Memories of Björn Waldegard
On Friday, the 29th of August, the rally world became a lot poorer and lost one of its greatest when Björn Waldegard died from a short illness with cancer. As always, he had wanted to come to this year’s Eifel Rallye Festival but called the weekend before to excuse himself as he had serious pain in his back and needed medical treatment in hospital. He had never before experienced pain in his back, which he was happy about considering the decades of driving rally cars on bumpy roads, but now he definitely had to do something about it. Unfortunately it was not his back that was the problem … Since the second Hunsrück Rally in which Slowly Sideways cars took part, back in 1993, Björn was a regular visitor to our events. He loved the idea of showing the history of rallying and helping to preserve it for new generations of rally fans. He was happy to spend a nice weekend with friendly people and good cars, although I have to admit that some of the cars he got to drive were not really in the best shape. But Björn never complained, he was always happy with whatever was possible and understood that it is not easy for owners to give their cars for other people to drive. In 1993, I gave my Metro 6R4 to Björn to drive, actually a car he never enjoyed to drive but never said why, and sat besides him. Using left-foot braking the brakes got too hot in the stage and he simply said: “We have no brakes any more, but that does not matter.” He kept pumping on the pedal to get some response but continued to drive fast and when we came sideways over a crest I was sure that I would die and that the 6R4 would be a wreck. When that didn’t happen, I knew that someone like this is from a different planet when it comes to driving cars. Last winter Björn surprised me again. We were on our favourite event, the East African Safari, where Björn crashed heavily on the third day and retired but then instead of driving home disappointed, he stayed with the team and followed the rally as a spectator. That was Björn, down to earth, no World Champion superstar, staying loyal to his team and friends, and enjoying the day. He was happy to be left in peace with a beer in his hand, chatting to friends and never once came an angry word from his lips. Some thought he was the best of all, which is for sure down to your own definition of what is the best. He was not always the fastest but drove with his head. He won the RAC when it was a blind rally, he won on tarmac and gravel, in the summer as in the winter, on sprint events and was a class of his own on long distance events in Africa. Far into his 60s, he was smiling at the comments of the younger drivers on day 9 of the Safari about a 65 km stage where he had beaten them yet again: “What’s 65 km? A stage cannot be long enough, can it?” There was only one Björn in rallying, what a loss. Reinhard Klein

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