Rally participants are as colorful as life itself. Oversimplified, but only oversimplified, you can separate the teams and especially the drivers in three groups. And do you know what’s fun? To guess what´s the actual, real-life profession of them.
The first group is the A) “Fun Fraction”, which does not take everything seriously, whose vehicles don´t have to cost much and which simply need a break or distraction from everyday life. Great examples are Dutchman Harry Scherpen (former criminal investigation policeman), German Fritz Becker (owning a big car dealership of a well known Czech brand) or the Swiss Roland Brack (owner of a large online-shop company).
Then we have B) those who are “Absolutely Serious”. To earn money and make business, to test something, to market something. Examples here are Dutchman Ronald Schoolderman (builds and distributes rally cars), German Jan Holtz (develops rally suspensions) or the Pole Grzegorz Brochocki (testing his rally Dacia Duster for international FIA events – and next to it winning the Breslau in 2018).
And there are C) the “Semi Teams” that perform professionally, work like a company, are well structured and often have huge manpower and a large fleet. Here you never really know from where the competitors are coming from. A good representative for this kind of teams is “Team Hoenig Racing” by the German Marcus Hoenig. When the team enters the paddock, it will be “full” (because of the big and many vehicles of the team) – and alive. Alive, because the members of the team like to spend their yearly holidays for the rally, including friends and the whole family, which also means happy children.
The team consists of leader Marcus Hoenig himself, his wife Andrea and the children Mika and Anina (family), Stephan Buerger (navigation), Clemens Rabeler (mechanic), Mirko Goedecke with his wife Simone (service), Lars Witzke (co-driver) and Torge Meyer (mechanic) – and they participate with a MAN-KAT truck in the biggest class of the Extreme category. We are not talking about the dozens former military MAN KAT in military colours, no, his truck is seriously prepared, painted, equipped – beautiful and professional. And the team knows how to represent itself – a little bit like a factory team.
Marcus Hoenig is a Breslau-competitor of the newer generation. In 2013 he visited the show-start at the Lausitzring in Germany as a spectator – and was promptly infected by the rally-virus. “Friends of us were competing in the Breslau with a Mercedes Unimog,” Hoenig stated. “We were totally fascinated and decided: This is what we want to do! We immediately started to ask a lot of questions – and we got a lot of answers.” Happily, also his family agreed to the idea.
The decision to start with a truck was fixed. “I learned in a MAN truckshop and with the years I became a master craftsman. Also during my military time in the early 90s I was involved in repairing big MAN KAT trucks. I became a fan of this trucks and very familiar with them,” Hoenig remembered. The rally-vehicle should not only be a truck, it should be a heavy-duty ex-military MAN KAT.
Immediately after he visited the Breslau in 2013, Hoenig and his friends started with planning and constructing the rallytruck. He bought a 1978 MAN with Deutz V8 engine, 256 hp and 6-gear transmission. One year later the truck was ready to start – but before destroying it asap at the Breslau, they tested first in the “Baja Deutschland” 2014. In 2015 he finally started in his first Breslau, in 2017 they combined Poland and the Baja Deutschland. Today, Hoenig, his friends and his family are an integral part of the Breslau!
“Off-road racing offers more variety and challenges than just driving on asphalt in circles,” Hoenig stated with a smile. “And if you want to start in a rally like the Breslau, you definetely must be different from ‘normal’ people.” This is for sure a perfect basis. But this didn´t answer our main question – what is Hoenig doing in his normal life? Top business manager? Owner of Disney World? Winner of a lottery? A lucky pensioner?
No. He is a professional firefighter. In the city of Goettingen in the middle of Germany.