SS11: Neuville closes gap to Meeke in second
This was a shortened version of the 2013 stage, starting in the village of Fell by the much photographed arch. It was narrow and twisty to begin with, before opening out into very fast sections with long straights and sweeping corners.
Thierry Neuville edged closer to second-placed Kris Meeke as a front wheel problem threatened to derail the Northern Irishman’s progress during Saturday afternoon’s opening stage at ADAC Rallye Deutschland.
Meeke was third fastest in his Citroen DS3, but ceded 2.9sec to Neuville’s Hyundai and was at a loss to explain why he completed the test with a misshapen tyre.
“I have no idea. For the last 3km in left corners there was something strange. I thought it was a puncture and in the last few corners I had come down a few gears,” Meeke told WRC Live before departing the finish to fit a replacement.
The gap between the two drivers is now 5.1sec, but not even Neuville could match the pace of Jari-Matti Latvala who was quickest by 1.7sec in his Volkswagen Polo R.
Most drivers opted for Michelin’s soft tyres but were taken aback by how dry conditions were. “I was surprised, there were just a couple of damp patches in the forests,” explained Latvala.
Andreas Mikkelsen fell further behind fourth-placed Dani Sordo after a mistake at a hairpin while Mikko Hirvonen regained sixth from team-mate Elfyn Evans. Evans was one of just two top drivers using a hard / soft compound mix of tyres in his Ford Fiesta RS.
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