The nineteenth edition of the Rally Isla Mallorca took place at its usual time of year on the second weekend in March. Severe weather afflicted the Mediterranean island in the days before the event, in particular the Tramuntana Mountains, with heavy snowfalls and fallen trees. This resulted in the closure of some roads on the rally route. On the Monday before the event, the Island Licensing Committee withdrew the permit for the entire rally. Event Supremo, Toni Dezcallar, appealed the decision and had it rescinded. Permission was granted to run the rally where the route was not directly affected by the inclement weather. This still left a big hole on the day two schedule. Only two stages in the morning and nothing in the afternoon. With permission for additional road closures taking many months to achieve, Toni found the solution by returning to the private Llucmayor race facility for the afternoon competition. The circuit had been used may times before in earlier editions of the rally including the notorious event that featured on BBC Top Gear. These changes, together with the already announced cancellation of the Sa Calobra hill climb, also due to weather induced road collapse, took a big bite out of the event.
For 2023 the event saw a record entry of 125 entries, spread across four classes: Race and Youngtimer for outright speed competition, and Medium and High average for Regularity. Seeded number one in Race were last years’ winners: Sebastian Perez with Gary McElhinny in a 1975 Porsche 911, in fact Porsche was the favoured weapon, with a full third of the entrants driving them. They faced stern opposition from other previous winning teams, including Kris Rosenberger with Sigi Schwarz and Dominic An Der Leiden with Dominic Kremkau also in Porsches. Local opposition came in the form of Nadal Galiana and Gabriel Flores in their Pinto engine Escort. Medium and High Speed Regularity entries were as popular as ever. It was Sebastian Perez who drew first blood winning the stage by nearly three seconds from Rosenberger. In Youngtimers, the Austrian crew of Gerald Rigler and Jahhrgen Heigl in a Ford Escort WRC were under a second ahead of the Spanish crew of David Garcia and Rudy Henson in a Renault Clio Maxi. Their times would not have made the top three of the Competition section in spite of the cars being more than two decades younger.
Day two weather was perfect; Clear blue skies and 24 degrees. The morning comprised just two runs through the notorious ultra-fast Coves de Campanet stage. t was the German crew of Florian Feustel and Katrin Becker in their ex-Roger Penske International Race Of Champions Porsche 911 RSR who put up an incredible time nearly 11 seconds quicker than Perez. They followed it up with a rapid second pass to end the morning leading the Rally 15 seconds clear of the British Crew and 25 seconds ahead of Rosenberger.
Thence to the Circuit of Llucmayor, where the single trial consisted of a four-lap stint around the circuit.
A beautiful blue Mediterranean sky greeted the field for day 3. Rosenberger put in a time of 13 seconds on the first pass of the day to take the rally lead. He was ahead of Perez on the second pass as well but only just. Perez counter-attacked with wins on the next two stages and went to lunch 3.5 seconds ahead.
The final afternoon featured two more regular challenges. Sadly Rosenberger’s Porsche seemed to lose power, leaving Perez to win the penultimate stage to cement his third Rally Mallorca overall victory. Notable was the third place of the Ferrari 308 of Bruno and Simon Straub, a car not best suited to the Mallorca roads. Galiana Nadal upheld local honour with a late charge to fourth, overhauling the Ford Escort of Silverstone Auctions owner Nick Whale and Ian Windress on the final stage.
Read the full report in our April 2023 issue….
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