Leaders on the final morning of Rallye Deutschland, Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio sweated blood and tears on the fourth leg to secure their maiden World Rally Championship win. Citroën Racing thus claimed its thirteenth consecutive win in Germany, the twelfth since the rally joined the WRC calendar.
The situation going into day four of the rally was straightforward enough. With a lead of just 8/10ths of a second over Thierry Neuville, Dani Sordo had to push all the way on the two runs on the 24.58km-long Dhrontal stage. As the roads were dry when the drivers chose their tyres, everyone went with soft-compound Michelin Pilot Sport tyres.
In the service park, all eyes were focussed on the green and red squares on the timing screens, which indicate the split times. The start of SS15 went well for Neuville, but Sordo fought back to win the stage by 2.2 seconds. “I made a minor mistake in the first few kilometres of the stage,” reported an out of breath Dani at the stop control.
“It was very slippery, with quite a lot of mud towards the end. I concentrated and pushed hard to try and get ahead, but it’s going to go down to the wire!”
At the start of SS16, in which the Power Stage bonus points were up for grabs, Dani Sordo therefore held a three second lead over Thierry Neuville. In other words, not a lot! Quicker on the opening two ‘splits’, Dani could see his rival was slightly ahead of him by the half-way point of the stage.
Tied with four kilometres to go, the two drivers were responsible for many a sweaty brow in the service park! In the end, Neuville faltered and went off the road, leaving Dani to win by 53 seconds!
“It’s fantastic to claim my first win after such a close fight,” commented the delighted Spaniard. “We had no choice but to keep applying the pressure and in the end, Thierry was forced into a mistake.
We didn’t get off to a particularly good start, but we all worked together to improve. We did the hardest part yesterday, but we had to maintain our form today and that’s exactly what we did. Now that I have my first win, I want some more!”
A long way clear of the fourth-placed driver, Mikko Hirvonen wasn’t competing in the same race as the front two. Adopting a sensible pace, dictated by the split times, he drove in controlled fashion to the end to secure third place. On the podium for the first time since Rally de Portugal, the Finn enjoyed the moment: “Above all, I’m pleased that Dani has finally won his first WRC rally.
Of all the WRC drivers, he’s the one who deserves it the most! My result means that the team has closed the gap in the Manufacturers’ World Championship, so the end of the season should be interesting. It’ll be my turn to win in Australia!”
“It’s a great day for the entire team,” concluded Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal. “Dani has competed in so many rallies with us that we are particularly pleased to have supported him in winning a round of the World Championship.
This win ensures that Citroën maintains its unbeaten record in Germany and it equally shows that the DS3 WRC can also win without Sébastien Loeb. We were right not to give up; we’ll be pushing hard in the final part of the season and have every intention of fighting our corner right to the end!”