Stage data: SS12, Arena Panzerplatte 2 (46.54 kilometres)
By Volkswagen Motorsport co-driver Julien Ingrassia: “I have 118 pages in my pace notes for this stage so we can say there are almost 118 junctions. Luckily the organisers put some little arrows during the recce otherwise we would get lost. Everybody knows this stage and although there are no big changes it’s totally new because it’s running in the reverse direction. Most of the roads are on concrete, 85 per cent, so we will see how the tyres will work, this is always a big question. It’s not such a worry in a Super 2000 car because we don’t have full power but in a World Rally Car you must take care.”
How the action unfolded:
ADAC Rallye Deutschland's famously challenging Arena Panzerplatte stage claimed two more high-profile victims on its second running of the 2012 event as Ott Tanak and Dani Sordo both crashed out.
Tanak had taken his first two FIA World Rally Championship stage wins on asphalt on the preceding two tests as he battled to pull clear of fifth-placed Mads Ostberg.
But it all went wrong on Panzerplatte, as Tanak hit one of the stage's notorious hinkelsteins and took the right rear wheel off his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
Sordo, who had been running sixth, sustained damage to his Prodrive MINI and lost coolant, forcing him to stop and try desperately to effect repairs.
The stage was ultimately halted when Peter van Merksteijn Jr crashed near Tanak and blocked the road.
Only a handful of cars therefore made it through to the finish. Fastest of them was rally leader Sebastien Loeb, who ended the day with a 1m42.9s advantage.
"A huge lead, so again a very good day and no problems," said Loeb. "We really had to go slow in this long stage because anything can happen in this one. We saw that in the first pass. Now we've finished the second day and it's looking good for tomorrow."
Loeb beat Jari-Matti Latvala by 0.7s, to the Ford man's huge frustration.
"I wanted to win this stage. This stage was so important," said Latvala. "[Loeb] came back. He went very hard in the middle of the stage and at the end I made some little mistakes and I'm a little bit angry with myself."
Latvala's time still allowed him to pull a few more seconds away from Mikko Hirvonen, who nevertheless produced his strongest performance of a tough weekend as he figured out the keys to getting the best out of the Citroen DS3 WRC on the German stages.
Tanak's crash means Ostberg is now very comfortable in fourth.
"It was a big fight between us. He took lots of time off me," said Ostberg. "He pushed very hard in the beginning and we were equal on the splits until he crashed. We were pushing really hard and he must have done too.
"It was quite on the edge and after that I didn't want to risk anything. It would be stupid to do a mistake in this position now."
The incidents also elevated Chris Atkinson into the top five on his debut in the WRC Team MINI Portugal entry.
"We knew if we ran at a solid pace then we were going to get a decent result," said Atkinson. "I didn't expect to be in fifth at the end of day two, but we'll take it."