M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak showcased his potential over the first day of competition at the 2012 ADAC Rallye Deutschland today. With a string of impressive stage and split times, the youngster held his own against the works drivers to lie seventh after the first day of competitive rallying. But there was misfortune for team mate Evgeny Novikov who was forced to Rally 2 following an unlucky incident on SS1.
Arguably the most challenging asphalt round of the season, Rally Deutschland favours the brave. Characterised by endless hairpins, constant changes of direction and slippery conditions, Day 1 saw Tänak and co-driver Kuldar Sikk come into their own through the twisting roads of the Mosel Valley vineyards.
Despite being caught out on SS1 – overshooting one of 69 junctions and losing some five-to-six seconds – the Estonian set the sixth fastest time behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC, two seconds faster than Tarmac specialist Dani Sordo. Continuing his strong showing through the second stage, the 24-year-old set the fifth fastest time – a second adrift of the factory Ford Fiesta of Jari-Matti Latvala to lie just 2.3 seconds behind Mikko Hirvonen in the overall standings. Having to slow the pace when he encountered Martin Prokop’s stricken Fiesta on SS3, Tänak forfeited his sixth place, but was back with a vengeance through the afternoon loop.
Having been 1.2 seconds up on Sébastien Loeb through the opening splits over the second pass of Mittelmosel (SS4), Tänak was setting a sensational pace before missing a junction towards the end of the stage. Despite losing some 10 seconds, the youngster still set the seventh fastest stage time – 0.5 seconds up on Hirvonen. Stage five saw Tänak set another strong time, three seconds up on Latvala, with a further strong showing through the final stage of the day (SS6) placing the Estonian seventh overall, less than 30 seconds adrift of Hirvonen.
Elsewhere however there was heartache for team mate Evgeny Novikov and stand-in co-driver Nicolas Klinger. Caught out by the demanding roads, the Russian was one of many unlucky drivers through the opening loop, clipping the rear of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC through SS1. The damage was too severe to continue, but the 21-year-old will restart under Rally 2 tomorrow where fans can expect to see Novikov giving the stages their customary dose of ‘maximum attack’ on what is his first venture to the challenging event.
Ott Tänak (7th) said:
“We were running a bit harder on the first stage [this afternoon, SS4] but in the middle of the stage we lost a bit of performance in the brakes. But OK, that’s how it is. Then on the second stage [SS5], we overshot another junction and lost about 10 seconds there, but the time was still OK so no major problems.
“Then on the third one [SS6], our pacenotes weren’t perfect on the first run so we took it quite steady to make sure we didn’t miss anything.
“Tomorrow we’ll just carry on. We need more concentration and Kuldar [Sikk] and I need to work harder so that we don’t miss any junctions! Today I think we lost about 30 seconds with this and without it I think we would have been in a very good position.”
Source: M-Sport Ford