Drivers fight up another steep and stony ascent into the vineyards before passing under a motorway and out into the country lanes. The roads are narrow with no room for error and chicanes have been added into two village sections to ease the pace. It uses part of a hillclimb course before finishing on narrow roads lining fields. The route is identical to 2012.
How the action unfolded:
The ADAC Rallye Deutschland leaderboard was turned upside down when both leader Jari-Matti Latvala and second-placed Thierry Neuville went off the road at a rain-soaked left bend shortly before the middle of the stage.
A brake disc was ripped from Latvala’s Volkswagen Polo R and although he tried to limp to the end, the Finn retired 5km before the finish. Bizarrely, Latvala was reported to have started the stage with co-driver Miikka Anttila’s door flapping open.
Neuville was luckier. The impact dented the rear left of his Ford Fiesta RS and the Belgian completed the rest of the test with a log jammed underneath the rear of the car (pictured above after the stage).
“You couldn’t see the corner, it was so slippery,” he said. “Latvala touched and we touched the same. I saw his brake disc in the corner. I tried to slow down but it was too late and we weren’t pushing. It was second gear, that was all. I couldn’t avoid it. It was like ice and many drivers will have problems there.”
An animated Neuville added: “Now my exhaust is blocked, and there is no power.” His Qatar World Rally Team later confirmed that although the exhaust was damaged, it would not prevent him from continuing.
Amid all the drama, Dani Sordo was second quickest in his Citroen DS3 and now lies just 1.1sec behind new leader Neuville, who was third fastest but dropped almost 8sec to the Spaniard.
“They were very slippery conditions. I’m very happy. I did a good stage, but I don’t want to speak a lot yet because there are difficult conditions in the next stages. We had moments all the time,” admitted Sordo.
The drama continued as Mads Ostberg went off the road in a wooded section 9.6km into the stage. He crashed at a left bend and with the car stuck in a ditch he had to retire.
Sebastien Ogier was fastest in his Polo R by 9.2sec from Sordo, the Frenchman succinctly summarising the stage as ‘quite tricky’. Behind Neuville, Mikko Hirvonen was fourth ahead of the dueling WRC 2 duo of Elfyn Evans and Robert Kubica, now fifth and sixth overall.