Another race begins for Citroën
— Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson ended day one of Rallye Deutschland in ninth position, just ahead of tenth-placed Stéphane Lefebvre and Stéphane Prévot.
— Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle ended the leg down in twenty-fifth place, after an off meant they completed the day at a reduced pace.
— Another rally starts for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team on day two, with the aim of securing as many points as possible on Sunday afternoon.
Following several months touring the world on gravel roads, the crews returned to tarmac this morning in Germany. Specifically prepared for the change in surface, the DS 3 WRC set off on new Michelin tyres.
Today’s opening leg took the drivers to the north of Trier with two stages on fast roads through the German countryside, before tackling some daunting, highly technical sections on the other two tests in the heart of the Mosel vineyards.
Kris Meeke had established himself in fourth place by the end of the first stage. Consistently quick, he remained fourth overall as the crews set off to tackle SS6. Caught out on a slippery corner, he ran wide into a field, damaging part of the front suspension in the process. The Northern Irishman managed to keep going, but was forced to drop his pace in the final few stages, losing around ten minutes on the leaders.
Meanwhile, Mads Østberg took a little time to readjust on this return to tarmac. Looking for the set-up that would enable him to feel as comfortable as possible, the Norwegian nonetheless stayed within striking distance of his main rivals as he negotiated the many hairpins in the vineyards on the banks of the Mosel river. He ended the day in ninth place, only ten seconds or so adrift of a top-six spot, as he set better times in the afternoon.
Stéphane Lefebvre was starting his first rally in the DS 3 WRC. It was all new today for the young Frenchman, who won the FIA Junior WRC title last year. Competitive from the very first stage, in which he finished an impressive ninth, Stéphane acquired a lot of experience throughout the day, even grabbing the sixth fastest time on SS5 and finishing the leg in tenth position.
Saturday’s programme will be very different. The crews and teams face an early start, setting off at 6.10am for a total of nine stages that they are due to complete at 8.52pm. The day will begin with a first run through the heart of the vineyards on Grafschaft, followed by the fast roads of Bosenberg in Saarland. The crews will then head for the Baumholder military base to tackle a very short version of Panzerplatte (2.87km) and then a very long version (45.61km). The morning and afternoon loops will be split by a 30-minute service.
Mads Østberg: “We got faster and faster as the day progressed. After service, I felt that we were closer to the pace and our stage times improved. The final test of the day showed that we are moving in the right direction. The standings are very close ahead of us. We have to keep improving gradually and try and get the best result we can. I prefer the stages on tomorrow’s itinerary, so I’m looking forward to continuing with this rally.”
Kris Meeke: “On the second stage of the afternoon, there was some mud on a second-gear corner. We slid wide in the middle of the bend and ended up in a field. It took me about thirty seconds to be able to get back onto the road. Once we were going again, I got back up to full speed. But four or five kilometres later, part of the front suspension broke under heavy braking. We had to drive slowly to make it back to service. I’m really disappointed because our pace was good from the start.”
Stéphane Lefebvre: “The DS 3 WRC is very fast! The first two stages came fairly naturally for me, but in the vineyards, it was much more difficult. We’re not really paying any attention to the standings, only to see where we are in relation to the most experienced drivers. We set a sixth fastest time by driving really cleanly, so that is very encouraging. The types of roads we tackle tomorrow will be very different, so it’s going to be a totally new experience for me!”
HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS1 – Sauertal 1 (14.84km) – Sébastien Ogier began the rally with a stage win. The championship leader finished ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala, Andreas Mikkelsen and Kris Meeke. Stéphane Lefebvre produced a fine performance on his first competitive outing in the DS 3 WRC with the ninth fastest time, just ahead of Mads Østberg.
SS2 – Waxweiler 1 (16.40km) – A second stage win for Sébastien Ogier, once again trailed by Latvala, Mikkelsen and Kris Meeke. Stéphane Lefebvre kept his strong start going with the eighth fastest time. Mads Østberg set the eleventh fastest time.
SS3 – Moselland 1 (23.24km) – By winning the longest stage of the morning, Jari-Matti Latvala grabbed first place overall ahead of Ogier, Mikkelsen and Kris Meeke. Mads Østberg was eleventh, with Stéphane Lefebvre just behind him.
SS4 – Mittelmosel 1 (13.67km) – Joint third fastest time for Kris Meeke, whilst Sébastien Ogier ended the morning by closing to within 0.1 seconds of the leader, Jari-Matti Latvala. Mads Østberg finished in eighth position, whilst Stéphane Lefebvre gathered experience in the vineyards.
SS5 – Sauertal 2 (14.84 km) – After the midday service, Sébastien Ogier grabbed another stage win to reclaim the overall rally lead, ahead of Latvala, Mikkelsen and Kris Meeke. Stéphane Lefebvre began the afternoon loop with an impressive sixth position, closing the gap to Mads Østberg in tenth place.
SS6 – Waxweiler 2 (16.40km) – Kris Meeke lost 1m 39s after going off the road. Ogier consolidated his overall lead ahead of Latvala and Mikkelsen, whilst Dani Sordo took advantage of the Northern Irishman’s problems to grab fourth position. Mads Østberg and Stéphane Lefebvre were both running in the top ten in their DS 3 WRCs.
SS7 – Moselland 2 (23.24km) – Back among the vineyards, Sébastien Ogier once again set the fastest time. Mads Østberg and Stéphane Lefebvre consolidated their positions in the top ten, whilst Kris Meeke limped home in his DS 3 WRC having lost another five minutes.
SS8 – Mittelmosel 2 (13.67km) – Seventh stage win out of eight for Sébastien Ogier, who ended the day in the overall lead ahead of Latvala and Mikkelsen. Sixth fastest, Mads Østberg made up a few seconds on his main rivals in the overall standings. Stéphane Lefebvre set the tenth fastest time. Kris Meeke made it to the end of the stage three minutes later than the leaders.
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