Where the Mosel river meets the Hunsruck mountains, this stage runs over both vineyard tracks and open country roads. It is tight and twisty with many hairpin bends near the end that will punish tired brakes. The surface is generally good, but messy in some places with a couple of small sections on cobbles.
How the action unfolded:
Thierry Neuville claimed his third win of the morning to move ever closer to the lead of ADAC Rallye Deutschland as Friday's action reached its midpoint.
The Belgian was fastest in his Ford Fiesta RS by 2.0sec from Jari-Matti Latvala’s Volkswagen Polo R and as the drivers returned to Trier for the service, Latvala’s lead was just 2.4sec.
Intermittent rain made conditions slippery in places and those drivers with two Michelin soft compound tyres in the rear of their cars opted to fit them before the test in ‘crossover’ format
Neuville didn’t have that luxury, with just five hard compound tyres available. “In some places the roads were slippery and I braked a bit late, but otherwise I’m comfortable,” he admitted.
Latvala was first through the stage and benefited from the softer rubber. “I don’t know how bad the rain was for the others but it didn’t affect me too much. One or two places were slippery, but it wasn’t a problem,” said the Finn.
Dani Sordo was just 0.9sec behind Latvala and the Spaniard is 15.1sec off the lead. “I put two soft tyres on in a crossover pattern. We thought it would rain more, but in the end it wasn’t raining so much. I lost perhaps three seconds,” he explained.
The consistent Mikko Hirvonen was again fourth in his Citroen DS3, the Finn encouraged by his morning. “It was getting a bit more damp towards the end and we were losing a bit but I’m pretty happy with the pace we’re doing,” said Hirvonen, who is 28.3sec behind Latvala in fourth overall.
Almost a minute behind in fifth is Mads Ostberg, the Norwegian fifth fastest in his Fiesta RS but frustrated at his lack of pace.
“I’m hoping to increase the speed this afternoon to try to find some confidence. I’m finding it difficult. I have good notes but I’m not really friends with my car at the moment. I can’t go any faster without feeling I’ll go off at every corner,” he said.
Martin Prokop rounds off the top six in another Fiesta RS. He was sixth quickest and happy to emerge from the test where his car burned out last year. “It was on my mind at the start. I tried to forget about it, but it wasn’t easy,” said the Czech.
Nasser Al-Attiyah holds seventh only 9.9sec behind Prokop, ahead of WRC 2 drivers Robert Kubica and Elfyn Evans. Michael Kosciuszko rounds off the top 10, the Pole in severe discomfort after jarring his back earlier this morning.
Citroen DS3 driver Kubica leads by 8.3sec from Evans in a Ford Fiesta R5. The pair have pulled more than one minute clear of Germany’s Sepp Wiegand, who struggled with a broken co-driver intercom. Hayden Paddon, however, is the pace-setter. The Kiwi was fastest on all three stages in his Skoda Fabia but lies fourth, 1m27sec behind Kubica, after losing time on Thursday with a broken power steering belt.
Sebastien Chardonnet has a 31sec lead over Quentin Gilbert. Chardonnet, who leads the championship, was the overnight leader and pulled further ahead thanks to three stage wins this morning. Keith Cronin is third, 35sec behind Gilbert, with Mohammed Al Mutawaa the only other WRC 3 runner.
Pontus Tidemand is back in control of the Junior WRC class after overnight leader Jose Suarez dropped more than four minutes on today’s second stage. Yeray Lemes is a close second, just 6.7sec behind Tidemand, with Michael Burri third, but more than a minute further back.