Who to watch out for in the WRC 2, WRC 3 and Junior categories in Germany.
- Both category leader Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari and second-placed Nicolas Fuchs are absent, leaving the way open for Robert Kubica to move to the top of the standings. The Pole lies 17 points behind Al-Kuwari in a Citroen DS3 RRC, but is the form driver with two wins and a second from the last three rounds.
- Sure to go well on home ground are former leader Sepp Wiegand [pictured] in a Skoda Fabia S2000, and Armin Kremer, sixth in the standings in a Ford Fiesta RRC. Wiegand warmed up with a test at the Rallye Wartburg, having not competed on asphalt since the Barum Rally in the Czech Republic last September.
- New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon makes his second appearance in another Fabia and confidence is high after claiming third in Finland earlier this month. Paddon completed two runs through the shakedown test yesterday, trying different set-ups to prepare for the varied road characteristics synonymous with this rally.
- The Ford Fiesta R5, which scored a debut win in Finland, will again feature strongly. Elfyn Evans, Karl Kruuda, Eyvind Brynildsen, Subhan Aksa, Rashid Al Ketbi and Robert Barrable all have the latest WRC 2 weapon. Barrable showed strong pace in Finland and prepared with a class win and fifth overall in the Tyneside Stages Rally in northern England.
- Seven crews will do battle in the WRC 3 category, all of whom are competing in Citroen DS3 R3 cars as part of the French manufacturer’s Top Driver series.
- Three of the four drivers who have claimed category wins so far are here. Sebastien Chardonnet, winner in Monte Carlo, leads the standings with a 20 point advantage over Keith Cronin, who won in Finland earlier this month and has a strong asphalt pedigree in his native Ireland. “We have all the cards we need up our sleeve to have a successful race. It’s up to us to play them intelligently,” said Cronin.
- Third-placed Quentin Gilbert will enjoy the switch to asphalt while local boy Christian Riedemann, who won in Italy but failed to score on his other two outings, will be keen to make up ground on home territory. Non-starters include Francesco Parli, due to medical reasons, and Alastair Fisher, who has opted to compete in Rally Northern Ireland this weekend.
- After three loose-surface events, Rallye Deutschland brings a switch to asphalt for round four of the Junior Championship, and the chance of a shake-up in the young driver standings.
- Championship leader Pontus Tidemand is one of many Junior drivers to be less than familiar with the specialist challenge, while those with more asphalt experience have an opportunity to catch up.
- Second in the standings, 29 points adrift of Tidemand, Spain’s José Suárez is tipped to do well, as are Canary Islander Yeray Lemes and Switzerland’s Michael Burri, who has tackled this rally twice before.
- At the other end of the experience scale, Estonia’s Sander Pärn - third after two podiums in a row in Greece and Finland - will make his tarmac rally debut. These five competitors will be joined by Martin KoŔi, Murat Bostanci, Niko Nieminen and Marius Aasen.
- Junior newcomer Pieter Cracco will start his first event with a two-minute penalty after breaking recce rules. The Belgian-born driver was reprimanded by event Stewards for driving a four-wheel drive car on the recce and not a two-wheel drive as specified in the rules.
- Finland’s Andreas Amberg, who won the last round in his home country, has also been in trouble with the Stewards. Amberg pulled out of Rallye Deutschland because of financial problems and has been docked 25 championship points.