Deutschland, SS3-4: Ott regains Germany lead
Neuville survives gearbox oil scare
Ott Tänak claimed a brace of special stage victories to regain the lead of ADAC Rallye Deutschland at the midpoint of Friday’s first full day of action.
Having yielded his overnight advantage to Sébastien Ogier in the opening speed test, the Toyota Yaris driver was fastest through the Mittelmosel vineyards and the Wadern-Weiskirchen country roads to lead the Frenchman by 7.2sec.
The Estonian was unhappy with his Yaris’ balance initially but as his confidence grew, so did his speed. He was 5.0sec faster than Ogier in Mittelmosel and 1.8sec clear of team-mate Esapekka Lappi in the next.
“It’s not easy to drive these kind of roads but I had everything good and it’s going in a good rhythm. The stability is improving with every stage,” explained Tänak, at the wheel of a Yaris for only the second time on an all-asphalt rally.
Ogier was happy with his morning’s work in a Ford Fiesta, pulling 3.7sec clear of title rival Thierry Neuville. There was a major scare for the Belgian whose Hyundai i20’s gearbox was dripping oil at the Mittelmosel finish.
“It was just a small leak of oil. There was a bit of oil on the windscreen so it was difficult to drive, but I wasn’t disturbed,” said Neuville, who stopped to tighten a pipe on the liaison section after the stage, which stopped the leak.
The leading trio drew clear of the chasing pack, headed by a cautious Lappi who felt nervous on the dirty sections of road. The Finn was almost 20sec off the lead at the head of a fierce four-car battle covered by less than four seconds.
Dani Sordo struggled for grip in his i20 in fifth. The Spaniard was 0.6sec ahead of a frustrated Jari-Matti Latvala, who was at a loss to understand why he could not match the pace of team-mates Tänak and Lappi.
Elfyn Evans was seventh ahead of a tightly clustered group containing Andreas Mikkelsen, Craig Breen and Mads Østberg.
Norwegians Mikkelsen and Østberg spun in Mittelmosel, while Breen and Teemu Suninen lost time when heavy rain fell near the finish of the same stage.
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