Ogier and Ingrassia take up the running
Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena have clinched many of their great victories in the Panzerplatte stage, but this time it proved fatal to them.
The seven-time world champions suffered a puncture in the last stage on the second day of Rally Germany handing the lead to their team-mates, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. However, the two Citroën Total World Rally Team DS3 WRCs are still well placed to score a double.
I applied team orders and I didn’t go flat out.
Rally Germany quit the banks of the Moselle region on the second day of the event for the Sarre roads and the Baumholder military camp. Sébastien Loeb and Sébastien Ogier, who were in first and second places with a big lead over the third-placed car, were told to continue the race without compromising what could be an important double at this stage of the season. “We asked our crews not to push too hard, which more or less meant freezing the positions,” said Olivier Quesnel, the Citroën Racing Team Principal. “Sébastien Loeb leads the drivers’ world championship and is in first place in a rally in which he has never been beaten. This does not detract from Sébastien Ogier’s performance who showed yesterday that he has made a lot of progress on tarmac.”
In the first loop Loeb was quickest in SS9 (Birkenfelder Land), while Ogier set the two best times in SS8 (Bosenberg) and 10 (Arena Panzerplatte). Overall, the 7-time world champion managed to retain a lead of 4.8s over his team-mate: “I applied team orders and I didn’t go flat out. The endurance and the consistency of the Michelin tyres enabled us to do all four stages without having to worry about wear. I went straight on at a crossroads in the Panzerplatte where I knew I could take the escape road without damage in case I was a bit optimistic about my braking!”
Sébastien Ogier was also happy with his morning: “I think that we were on the limit everywhere,” he said. “It’s only my second outing in a WRC in this event and I have to push to make progress. I had a good morning without making any mistakes and I feel I’m improving stage after stage. The gap’s small and it’s an interesting race.”
After a 30-minute halt in the Trier service park, the Citroën Total World Rally Team crews maintained the same rhythm in the afternoon. But the rally was turned on its head in SS14 second time through the 35-km Arena Panzerplatte stage. Just after the halfway mark Loeb suffered a puncture on the left-hand front tyre: “I wasn’t pushing and I don’t really know why I punctured. There was nothing I could do.”
This incident handed Ogier the lead with more than a minute in hand over his team-mate. “There’s no way I can be happy when a problem hits my team-mate, but I can’t hide the fact that I’m happy to be in front this evening. What’s just happened is a reminder that a rally is never won until the flag falls. The main thing is that Citroën is still in a good position to score a double and our aim is to finish the job tomorrow.”