A costly mistake by Sebastien Ogier hands the lead to team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala in Germany.
Reigning FIA World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier made a costly mistake in the final stage of Rallye Deutschland today, handing the advantage to team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala after the opening day of competition. The Finn heads the leaderboard with 37 seconds in hand to second-placed Kris Meeke. Dani Sordo, who has suffered with a more disadvantageous road position, has climbed into third and is just a further 5.6 seconds adrift.
ADAC Rallye Deutschland, the ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, got underway with the ceremonial start in front of the historic Porta Nigra in Trier last night, but it was not until this morning that the competition started in earnest with the first two loops of three stages in the vineyards.
Troubles for Ogier
Ogier was on the pace from the outset, winning the first two stages to pull out an early advantage. He won another of this afternoon’s stages and was heading the field until going off in the final stage, ending up off rally route and being forced out of the day’s competition in the team’s home round of the Championship.
Latvala inherited the advantage and is the only other driver to have won stages today. He had a big moment in the opening stage and admitted to reduced confidence when the roads were dirtier, a problem the Finn could still encounter tomorrow. Meeke had a spin in the first stage and then climbed from fifth to third by lunchtime service.
Running without problems this afternoon, the Northern Ireland driver then also moved up the leaderboard this evening. Dani Sordo, running 14th on the road, suffered trickier conditions as more and more debris was pulled on to the roads from crews running ahead. He nevertheless had a great day and overnights third, albeit just three seconds ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen. The Norwegian suffered with understeer this morning and then broke a wheel rim in the third stage, dropping him from an early third position to fourth.
But for a titanic effort from his mechanics, Thierry Neuville would have been unable to take the start this morning after rolling six times during yesterday’s shakedown. Through the night repairs nevertheless saw the Belgian out on time and he too is now in the thick of a battle with Mikko Hirvonen, Elfyn Evans and Mads Østberg, third to eighth positions split by less than 20 seconds. Bryan Bouffier and Martin Prokop round off the top 10, Prokop not entirely comfortable with his Fiesta RS WRC today.
1. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila - Volkswagen Polo R WRC
2. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle - Citroën DS3 WRC
3. Dani Sordo/Marc Marti - Hyundai i20 WRC
4. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene - Volkswagen Polo R WRC
5. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul - Hyundai i20 WRC
6. Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen - Ford Fiesta RS WRC
7. Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt - Ford Fiesta RS WRC
8. Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson - Citroën DS3 WRC
9. Bryan Bouffier/Xavier Panseri - Hyundai i20 WRC
10. Martin Prokop/Jan Tomanek - Ford Fiesta RS WRC