It was only one year ago that the Interwetten Racing Team was presented to the public, and after a successful year competing in eight rounds of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) series, driver Franz Wittmann and co-driver Bernhard Ettel showed impressive speed and skill.

Driving a Stohl Racing-prepared MitsuBishi Lancer Evolution IX this season, the objective of the Interwetten Racing Team was to accustom themselves to this international IRC series and to familiarise themselves with the stages and events and to reach one or more top ten results. This Franz Witmann mastered: “To me it was a really great year. I was able to learn a lot and I hope to realise the experience thus won in the future. Due to the car’s conceptual design I obviously stood better chances on gravel than on tarmac, where the lighter weight and the surplus of horse power of my competitors’ cars played a decisive role. I am nevertheless highly satisfied. And I would like to heartily thank Interwetten, the Bezirksjournal, Stohl Racing and my co-driver Bernhard for their commitment and performance. Now I can only hope that we will manage to put together a package for next season that will enable us to take advantage of my experience for 2010.”

If one were to hand out marks after the rookie year that was 2009, the school report would be as follows:
• The Interwetten driver already proved his talent at the season-opening event in Monte Carlo. At this rally he was running in an excellent ninth place overall until the final stage of Day Two when an engine problem forced him to retire. Mark: 2.

• On to the Azores islands. Despite the most difficult conditions, Wittmann achieved sixth place overall on the gravel stages to earn him his first IRC points. Mark: 1.

• Things went even better in Russia for the 26-year-old student from Lilienfeld. Here Witmann reached a brilliant fifth place overall, once again on gravel. Mark: 1.

• Belgium, on the other hand, hadn’t been worth the trip due to an early retirement. Mark: 3.

• In the Czech Republic, the Austrian shone after technical problems and a tyre damage by racing to catch up twice from 42nd place to a final 15th place overall by the end of the event. Mark: 1.

• In Spain the Interwetten driver once more gave a convincing performance, and secured ninth place overall on tarmac speed tests. Mark: 2.

• In San Remo he faced an overwhelming 24 S2000 cars, but the Austrian driver nevertheless managed to finish in 19th place overall. Mark: 2.

• This results in a remarkable mark average of 1,7. In a purely sporting sense, he reached a very good 13th place as best non-S2000 car in his debut year in the IRC.

Due to budgetary constraints, his Rally of Scotland outing was cancelled. He did, however, complete the recce to gain as much information and experience of the stages.

In the recent Rallye Waldviertel, Witmann tested a Peugeot 207 S2000. In his first outing in an S2000 machine, and using the event only as a test, he finished the event second overall only 10,7 seconds adrift of the winner. Keep your eyes on this star in 2010!
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