Dani Sordo has ended the day on a high with two top three stage times to finish leg one in fifth position, 46.7 seconds off the leader Sebastien Loeb, but only 26 seconds from second place.
The MINI John Cooper Works WRC ran near faultlessly all day, giving Sordo the confidence to steadily increase his pace as the day progressed. Seventh place on stage one was followed by sixth place on stage two, fifth on stages three and four and third on the last two of the day.
Sordo ran with two soft and two hard Michelin tyres on each side of the car for the first stage with two spare hard tyres in the car, after overnight rain had left several damp stretches of tarmac. The lower grip levels were only likely to be accentuated by mud and gravel pulled on to the road by the front running cars. Sordo then spent the rest of the hot and humid day on four hard tyres, like all the front runners, with two softs in back in case the much anticipated rain was to fall. As it turned out the stages remained dry.
Prodrive WRC Team principal, Dave Wilcock, said: "A really great end to the day for Dani. We are still not quite sure how he managed to get the time he did on the very last sector of the day, taking nearly two seconds out of the lead cars in just five kilometres. Unlike the top runners who were in Finland recently, Dani has not been in the car competitively for more than ten weeks, and it understandably has taken him a while to get into a groove, but he certainly seems to have found it."
Dani Sordo said: "This morning I think we maybe shouldn't have taken the choice with two spare tyres. I also didn't have such a good feel for the car. We made some changes to the set-up at lunchtime and it was much better this afternoon. I had a much better feeling and I was able to really push. Tomorrow I will make a big push, there is a real opportunity to make up some time on Panzerplatte and we need to aim to move up towards a podium place."
Tomorrow the stages move from the vineyards of the Mosel Valley to the open concrete roads of the Panzerplatte. Like today, rain showers are forecast again together with stronger winds and cooler conditions, making tyre choice difficult.
Source: Prodrive WRC Team