The Finn’s Volkswagen Polo R was fastest by 0.7sec over the 4.55km Konz test, south of Trier. Latvala set his winning time on the last of four runs over the asphalt roads in the vineyards on the banks of the Mosel River.
With qualifying not part of asphalt events, the shakedown was the last chance for drivers to test ahead of tomorrow evening’s opening two stages of the season’s first pure sealed surface encounter.
“You will really see when the rally starts how things will be, but I think generally I took some good feedback from shakedown. The car feels good but, of course, this rally is tough. It’s probably the most difficult of the dry asphalt events. I’m not putting too much pressure on myself. I just want to go out, relax and see how it’s going to be,” Latvala told wrc.com.
Second was Dani Sordo in a Citroen DS3, the Spaniard happy to be on his favoured asphalt surface after a tough time on the gravel roads in Finland earlier this month.
“It was a good start, yes, but for me it was more important that my times were good from the start, because as the session goes on they usually get better and better anyway,” said Sordo. “The first passes were the most important, and they were okay. I also had a really good feeling with the car. We made one or two set-up changes but we’re happy now and ready to go.”
Thierry Neuville was third fastest in his Ford Fiesta RS, the Belgian just one tenth slower than Sordo through the stage.
World Championship leader Sebastien Ogier overshot a junction on his final run and had to settle for the fourth fastest time, with Evgeny Novikov rounding off the top five.
Shakedown complete, there is now a longer than usual break until the rally proper gets underway.
This year, for the first time, Rallye Deutschland will start from Cologne’s Harry-Blum-Platz from 1645hrs tomorrow (Thursday) before two brand new stages that night.
Here are the WRC class shakedown times:
1. Jari-Matti Latvala 2min 23.5sec
2. Dani Sordo 2min 24.2sec
3. Thierry Neuville 2min 24.3sec
4. Sebastien Ogier 2min 24.9sec
5. Evgeny Novikov 2min 25.1sec
6. Mikko Hirvonen 2min 25.5sec
7. Mads Ostberg 2min 25.7sec
8. P-G Andersson 2min 26.3sec
9. Nasser Al-Attiyah: 2min 27.2sec
10. Michal Kosciuszko 2min 29.2sec.
11. Martin Prokop 2min 30.0sec
12. Khalid Al Qassimi: 2min 31.4sec