Dramatic end to opening day in Germany
Latvala leads as team-mate Ogier crashes
Jari-Matti Latvala leads ADAC Rallye Deutschland following a dramatic conclusion to the opening day when team-mate Sébastien Ogier crashed out of first place.
The Volkswagen duo dominated on the asphalt roads. Ogier claimed three fastest times to Latvala’s two to hold a 5.5sec advantage heading into the final delayed Moselland stage.
However, the championship leader crashed his Polo R at a tight corner 7.5km into the hilly vineyard test. He emerged from the shrubs onto a different road below the stage, which he drove along in an effort to regain the correct route.
It did not lead back to the stage and Ogier eventually found a way to the public road and drove to the Trier service park. The car was undamaged and he will restart under Rally 2 regulations tomorrow with a 10 minute retirement penalty.
His demise handed Latvala a 37.0sec advantage over Kris Meeke’s Citroen DS3. Last year’s winner, Dani Sordo, overcame the worst of the conditions to hold third in a Hyundai i20, a further 5.6sec behind.
“We got a message in the car that Ogier had stopped and then saw another message to say he was out,” said Latvala. “I lost my rhythm a little because I didn’t know whether to drive fast or slow down. Miikka (co-driver Anttila) told me I was in the lead and could back off, but I slowed too much and found it hard to concentrate.”
Meeke dropped a handful of seconds after an opening stage spin, but was a model of consistency to finish third in every stage.
After a limited programme this season, Sordo started well down the running order. When he drove the stages the roads were slippery as previous competitors cutting corners had dragged mud and dirt onto the ideal line.
However, the Spaniard was always among the leaders and could threaten Meeke tomorrow when the start order is reset to tonight’s classification in reverse.
Andreas Mikkelsen is 3.0sec behind Sordo in fourth in a Polo R, despite a morning puncture, with Thierry Neuville fifth. Mechanics worked all last night to repair the Belgian’s i20 after his shakedown roll but he had a scare when his car filled with smoke in the last test.
Mikko Hirvonen is just 1.9sec behind in sixth, despite overshooting his Ford Fiesta RS into a field in the opening stage. Team-mate Elfyn Evans and Mads Østberg are next, the Norwegian slipping back from third as he struggled on the dirty roads.
Bryan Bouffier and Martin Prokop complete the leaderboard, but Robert Kubica dropped four minutes after his Fiesta RS went off and had to be lifted back onto the road by spectators.
Tomorrow’s second leg starts at 06.30. Drivers face two loops of four stages covering 148.30km, including two passes over the daunting Panzerplatte tests in the Baumholder military area.
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