Prior to 2011 Sebastien Loeb had dominated ADAC Rallye Deutschland, winning every event to count for the FIA World Rally Championship from 2002 onwards.
That was until a puncture on the penultimate stage on day two dropped him down the order and handed victory to his then Citroen team-mate Sebastien Ogier.
With Ogier switching to a Super 2000-specifciation Skoda Fabia as part of his new employer Volkswagen Motorsport’s preparations for its World Rally Car campaign from 2013, Loeb is the favourite for top honours, given fellow factory Citroen driver Mikko Hirvonen’s lack of pedigree of asphalt.
However, Hirvonen says he’s more confident of an upturn in form on Tarmac than ever before, while works Ford pair Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg demonstrated the pace of the Fiesta RS WRC on asphalt on Rallye Monte-Carlo earlier in the year.
Loeb will also have to fend off his old asphalt nemesis Dani Sordo, who heads the MINI challenge in a Prodrive WRC Team entry.
The Spaniard, who claimed MINI’s first WRC podium in Germany last season, is regarded as a Tarmac expert and starts the rally on the back of four days of testing.
Another driver hoping to impress in a MINI is Australian Chris Atkinson who has been drafted in as a late replacement for Armindo Araujo at WRC Team MINI Portugal.
German-speaking Belgian Thierry Neuville is expected to shine for the Citroen Junior World Rally Team, as will Czech driver Martin Prokop and Norwegian Mads Ostberg in their privateer Fiestas.
Promising Russian Evgeny Novikov links up with new co-driver Nicolas Klinger, who has replaced the injured Denis Giraudet, and will be hoping to impress following a troubled outing in Finland last time out.
Several WRC regulars will be back in action in Germany following recent absence. They include Dutchman Peter van Merksteijn Jr, Brazilian Daniel Oliveira and Nasser Al-Attiyah, who returns with the Qatar World Rally Team following his capture of a bronze medal in the skeet shooting section of the London 2012 Olympics.
Visit WRC.com next week to find out who will be gunning for glory in the Production Car world championship and WRC Academy in Germany.
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