ADAC Rallye Deutschland 2011 will forever be remembered as the year when Sebastien Loeb’s eight-event winning run in Germany finally came to an end, although it took a puncture when he was in the thick of the lead battle to drop him to second place and hand top spot to Sebastien Ogier in the sister factory Citroen. Dani Sordo scored MINI’s first WRC podium in third with Mikko Hirvonen the top Ford finisher in fourth. Jari-Matti Latvala led after the opening stage but the combination of a poor compound choice, a spate of punctures, an engine glitch and a crash wrecked the Finn’s hopes. Petter Solberg and fellow Citroen runner Kimi Raikkonen completed the top six, despite the ex-Formula One world champion suffering two punctures on the final day.
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While this year’s ADAC Rallye Deutschland route offers a tough test for the drivers and teams over its 368.63 competitive kilometres, it is somewhat tame in comparison to the event’s early days. When the rally first took place in 1982, the route featured 508 timed kilometres with the total distance a staggering 1877 kilometres. Two years later organisers included 47 special stages in the itinerary. There will be a total of 15 stages this year.
Hermann Gassner Jr makes his first start in the WRC this season on his home rally anxious to prove his worth after dropping out of the Super 2000 world championship at the end of last term. The capable 23-year-old, who has rallied sporadically in 2012, won’t be the only member of the Gassner family in action: his father Hermann will also be competing in a self-run production-based Mitsubishi Lancer.