WRC - Rallye Deutschland: Ogier leads Volkswagen's 1-2-3
Volkswagen Motorsport is 136 kilometers closer to their first victory at ADAC Rallye Deutschland. After 8 special stages of first day, reigning world champion Sebastien Ogier is leading ahead of his teammates Jari-Mati Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen. Ogier won seven out of Friday’s eight speed tests and he leads Latvala by 9.5 seconds, while Mikkelsen is further 25.4 seconds back.
Although Ogier has a comfortable lead it wasn’t an easy day for the best world rally driver. He won the first two stages (Sauertal and Waxweiler) but Latvala was the fastest at SS3 Moselland and retook the lead. Latvala ended the morning loop as the leader, a tenth of a second ahead. After that Ogier fine-tuned his car’s set-up and won all four afternoon special stages.
“I had a great afternoon, it was really good fun. It’s a long time since I pushed so hard on asphalt. I found a better set-up for the afternoon, but Jari-Matt isn’t far behind so we have to keep going the same way tomorrow,” said Ogier.
Andreas Mikkelsen confirmed complete VW dominance by achieving third fastest time at 7 of 8 special stages. Closest to Volkswagen-trio was Citroen’s Kris Meeke, who set fourth fastest time at five special stages. Like many times before Meeke’s good speed resulted in some mistakes so he went off the road at SS6. He was able to continue but a broken front left compression strut cost him more than nine minutes and he finished the day at 25th place overall.
Meeke’s drop promoted Hyundai drivers Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville, who swapped places four times. Sordo finished the day at 4th place just 1.9 sec ahead Neuville. Elfyn Evans was sixth in a Ford Fiesta RS despite an early handbrake issue, ahead of team-mate Ott Tänak. Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) is eighth, ahead Citroen’s Mads Ostberg. Last year’s Junior WRC champion Stephane Lefebvre rounded top 10 in his debut with World Rally Car, at the wheel of a DS3.
Robert Kubica was out of the fight for the points from the beginning, because he started with a five minute penalty after an engine change before the rally. He was driving without pressure but still made a mistake in penultimate stage of the day and went off the road into the vineyard. He had to stop to kick out the damaged windscreen and continued the stage without it.
Czech driver Jan Kopecky was the leader of WRC2 class in factory’s Škoda Fabia R5. Second placed Craig Breen (Peugeot 208 T16) was 1 minute 22 seconds behind Kopecky, while third placed Eric Camilli (Ford Fiesta R5) was 14 seconds behind Breen. Škoda had a strong line-up of factory drivers and privateers at the start, but one by one, they gradually felt out. Esapekka Lappi crashed at SS2, Armin Kremer retired before SS5 and Nasser Al-Attiyah is far from the leaders because of problems at opening stage.
Drivers will have a marathon day tomorrow because the first out of nine special stages is scheduled to start at 7.34 and last will start at 18.47. Five out of nine special stages will take place at Panzerplatte military roads at Baumholder.
Photos: Volkswagen Motorsport, Citroen Racing, wrc.com