Opel electrifies the WRC stage

Calle Carlberg wins the ADAC Opel Electric Rally Cup "powered by GSe" 2023. Austrian Luca Pröglhöf celebrates his first victory in the Opel Corsa Rally Electric. Strong performance of the electric racers at the Central European Rally in front of 125,000 fans.

The winner of the ADAC Opel Electric Rally Cup "powered by GSe" is Calle Carlberg. At the big season finale at the Central European Rally, the final of the FIA World Rally Championship around Passau, the 23-year-old Swede didn’t miss out on anything. In front of the eyes of the world's rally elite and a total of 125,000 spectators, Calle and his father Torbjörn drove to a commanding second place finish in the Corsa Rally Electric from Schmack Motorsport and thus celebrated the title win in the world's first electric rally brand cup.

"We really did it!" cheered Carlberg. "There was so much pressure on us all weekend. I was so nervous because while I knew I really just had to finish, I also realized how quickly a mistake could happen in these incredibly difficult conditions. In the end, I was no longer thinking about the rally result, but only about the championship and I am overjoyed that we brought the Corsa Rally Electric to the finish in one piece. Many thanks to everyone who helped, and thanks especially to Max and Conny, who were such strong, fair opponents to us throughout the season."

As arguably the finest reward for winning the title, the young Scandinavian will move up to the ADAC Opel Rally Junior Team and make a splash in the Corsa Rally4 in the Junior European Rally Championship (JERC) next season. "It's a dream come true," beamed Calle.

Meanwhile, the title hopes of his rival Max Reiter suffered an abrupt damper early on. A puncture on the very first special stage on Saturday morning (SS3) meant a time loss of around one and a half minutes and a drop to the rear of the cup field. Nevertheless, the 23-year-old from Dillingen and co-driver Conny Nemenich did not give up and fought their way back up to third place with a total of three best stage times, but in the end had to settle for the runner-up spot in the championship.

"It was a mega rally and a real honor to be able to take part in this world championship round," commented Reiter, who was ultimately 18 points short of the big triumph. "After the puncture on Saturday morning, the motto was: full attack to close the gap as much as possible. We managed that well. Without bad luck we could have won here. But ifs and buts don't count in motorsport. Congratulations to Calle, it was a fantastic battle with him throughout the season. He is certainly a worthy champion."

Meanwhile, detached from the pressure of the title fight, Luca Pröglhöf and co-driver Christina "Dina" Ettel delivered an outstanding rally, mixing it up at the front in all special stages, setting two fastest times and thus celebrating their first victory in the ADAC Opel Electric Rally Cup "powered by GSe". Thanks to their best time in the final "Power Stage", the 24-year-old Austrian scored the maximum possible 35 points and finished the season in third place overall.

"I'm speechless," admitted the winner. "It was a first for me in so many ways - the first WRC round, the first SS best time, and now the first Cup round win. We have improved as a whole team. Christina played a big part in this and her feedback helped us a lot. It was a great rally in extremely difficult conditions. To have been here and now to stand at the top of the podium is simply brilliant."

In fourth place, Raffael Sulzinger and his partner Lisa Kiefer delivered a strong guest start in the electric car. Despite only a few test kilometers in the Corsa Rally Electric, which was unfamiliar to him in the run-up to the rally, the 38-year-old local hero very quickly got to grips with it better and better and was pleased with his performance at the finish: "It is quite an adjustment that took a few kilometers. But to finish in the top 5 among all the experienced cup drivers had been our goal. The guest appearance was a nice experience that was great fun for us. Especially also because the atmosphere in the cup and among the participants is really cool."

As Sulzinger was not eligible for points, Sarah Rumeau and Julie Amblard once again collected the points for fourth place, where they also finished their debut season in the ADAC Opel Electric Rally Cup. "It was a difficult rally for us," admitted the 28-year-old FFSA Academy driver. "Already in the Super Special Stage on Thursday in the Czech Republic, we missed a turn-off and were ten seconds behind. We had pinned our hopes on the long stages on Saturday, two of which unfortunately had to be cancelled. At least we managed to finish this extremely treacherous rally without any mistakes and end our first season in this great championship in fourth place overall. We can be satisfied with that."

After their strongest performance of the season and just two seconds behind Rumeau/Amblard, brother pair Anthony and Adrien Rott continued their upward trend and finished the WRC rally in sixth place, which meant 5th place points for the Frenchmen. In contrast, some of their competitors found themselves sidelined on the tracks left behind in sometimes devastating condition by the arrow-quick four-wheel-drive cars from the World Rally Championship. For example Christian Lemke, Armiche Mendoza Silva, Joe Baur and Cindy Gudet, who at least managed to get their Corsa Rally Electric back on track, while the rally was over for Johannes Wittenbeck after he crashed in SS6.

"The start at the Central European Rally was both a highlight and a challenge for our mostly young competitors and also their Corsa Rally Electric, which they mastered very well," commented Opel Motorsport Director Jörg Schrott. "We were able to prove once again in front of this impressive backdrop: Electric rallying works. And it can absolutely hold its own in the shadow of the stars from the WRC. The season in the ADAC Opel Electric Rally Cup was exciting and varied. We have seen great rallies and celebrate a worthy champion in Calle Carlberg. We are already looking forward to working with him in the Junior European Championship."


Final standings ADAC Opel Electric Rally Cup (after 8 rounds):  1. Carlberg 253 points. 2. Reiter 235. 3. Pröglhöf 186. 4. Rumeau 153. 5. Van Hoof 108. 6. Lemke 102. 7. Baur 81. 8. Gudet 70. 9. Rott 64. 10. Mendoza 59. 11. Tarta 39. 12. Wittenbeck 37. 13. Callea 27. 14. Oprea 19.