SS11-12-13: Ogier pulls clear on tank roads
ADAC Rallye Deutschland leader Sébastien Ogier tamed the feared Panzerplatte military roads to win all three Saturday morning stages on the Baumholder ranges and give himself breathing space at the top of the leaderboard.
He topped the times over both runs of the sprint Arena Panzerplatte to extend his lead over Volkswagen Polo R team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala by 2.7sec. He then defeated the Finn by 6.8sec through the 45.61km test to return to service in Trier with an 18.5sec advantage.
“It was a difficult stage because without split times you never know where you are compared to other drivers and what kind of rhythm you’re driving at. I had a not so bad run, although the front tyres moved a bit near the end,” said Ogier after the long stage.
Latvala was deflated. “The car wasn’t what I expected it to be. In testing I had a good feeling but it didn’t work in these conditions. It was too stiff,” he said.
Andreas Mikkelsen was fourth in all three stages and the Norwegian remained comfortable in third, 48.5sec behind Latvala, to preserve the German squad’s 1-2-3.
Thierry Neuville ceded fourth to Hyundai i20 team-mate Dani Sordo after a disappointing run over the tank training roads blighted by understeering and brake issues. The gap between them overall was 6.7sec, with Sordo second and third in the sprint tests.
Elfyn Evans held a 16.6sec gap over team-mate Ott Tänak, both reporting tyre wear issues on their Ford Fiesta RS cars near the end, while Mads Østberg overhauled Hayden Paddon for eighth despite a heavy landing over the famous Gina jump.
Paddon was downbeat, the Kiwi unhappy with his car’s set-up and a minute slower than Ogier. Stéphane Lefebvre rounded off the top 10, mightily impressive in setting second fastest time in SS12 on his DS 3 World Rally Car debut.
Martin Prokop dropped more than a minute as driveshaft problems led to a flat spot on his right rear tyre, Kevin Abbring drove the final 10km with no power steering and Robert Kubica stopped after 17km after ripping a wheel from his Fiesta RS.
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