Deutschland, SS10-11: Tänak remains in charge
Latvala demotes Neuville from third
The time gains were tiny but Ott Tänak continued to edge further clear at the top of the ADAC Rallye Deutschland leaderboard on Saturday morning.
After leaving Panzerplatte’s military stages, the Estonian and Sébastien Ogier traded seconds over two Saarland country road speed tests, Tänak returning to the Bostalsee service park with his advantage up to 14.1sec.
Ogier regained 0.7sec in Freisen in his Ford Fiesta, before Tänak went 1.6sec quicker through Römerstraße in his Toyota Yaris – neither of the top two setting stage-winning pace through this morning’s four tests.
“For this one I tried to improve a bit and the feeling was better. Our main target this afternoon is to find more balance and have another good loop,” Tänak said after Römerstraße.
Despite conceding only 1.8sec over this four stages, Ogier seemed resigned to his fate.
“Top of the times is always Toyota,” he said. “I’m really pushing. The last stage (Freisen) I did a perfect stage but only gained seven-tenths. It looks almost impossible but I push as hard as I can without being stupid.”
Thierry Neuville’s struggles with his Hyundai i20 continued. The championship leader conceded third to Jari-Matti Latvala by 0.1sec after managing only ninth fastest in both stages.
“There’s no chance for us to resist against their speed. I’m pushing really hard even though the settings are not right. This stage (SS11) I didn’t do last year, and I’m really on the edge,” explained the Belgian.
Just 1.8sec behind Neuville was team-mate Dani Sordo. The Spaniard was unable to replicate his military road speed on the country lanes and finished eighth in both stages.
The reverse was true for Esapekka Lappi. After struggling for confidence on the dirty military roads, the Finn felt at home on the cleaner surfaces of the Saarland tests. He won Freisen and was second in Römerstraße in his Yaris.
His reward was to climb to sixth, 6.1sec behind Sordo, at the expense of Elfyn Evans. The Welshman ran wide onto the grass in Römerstraße and a heavy impact damaged the front left of his Fiesta, bringing his day to an early conclusion.
Craig Breen won Römerstraße and moved to seventh following Evans’ demise. Andreas Mikkelsen continued to modify his driving style in an attempt to get the best out of his i20, but struggled with the handling and braking in the many junctions.
The Norwegian was eighth, while Teemu Suninen and Mads Østberg rounded off the top 10.
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