SS15-16: Latvala and Meeke crash in Germany, Neuville in front!
Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke both crashed out of ADAC Rallye Deutschland in an astonishing opening to Sunday’s final leg to leave Thierry Neuville on the verge of his maiden WRC victory.
Leader Latvala went off the road in a vineyard section about 14km after the start of the opening 18.03km Dhrontal stage. His car dropped through the vines and came to rest near a road below at the 8.7km point.
The Finn’s demise left Meeke with an 8.4sec lead over Neuville, but Meeke crashed into a wall early in the following Grafschaft stage, ripping the rear left wheel from his Citroen DS3.
The drama means Neuville has a 35.7sec advantage over Dani Sordo with a second pass through the same two stages remaining before the Trier finish.
Their Hyundai team is on course to record a maiden WRC victory and a 1-2 finish. If Neuville wins, he will be only the second Belgian to win a world rally following François Duval’s success in Australia in 2005.
Latvala was aiming for his second consecutive victory, and his first ever on asphalt, after winning his home round in Finland last month. He left Trier this morning with a 56.6sec lead in his Volkswagen Polo R over Meeke.
Volkswagen have lost both Latvala and team-mate Sébastien Ogier to crashes this weekend and it brings to an end the team’s winning run of 12 events which started in Australia last year.
Andreas Mikkelsen spun his Polo R at the same point where Latvala went off, but the Norwegian lies third. He is chased by Elfyn Evans, who is just 8.5sec behind, with Mikko Hirvonen fifth a further 9.6sec behind his team-mate.
Bryan Bouffier and Yuriy Protasov also reported spins in Dhrontal, while Robert Kubica retired his Ford Fiesta RS before the stage when the gearbox became stuck in third gear as he warmed his tyres.
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