Stage data: SS6, Grafschaft 2 (22.79 kilometres)
By Volkswagen Motorsport co-driver Julien Ingrassia: “This stage is a little bit more of a mixed stage. You will find some vineyards but it’s a little more cross-country with some open areas where you can breathe a little bit with 200-metre straights with nothing around. There are some farms in the stage and you have to be careful about the mud that can be pulled onto the road by the trucks.”
How the action unfolded:
Dani Sordo continued his progress on the final stage of day one of ADAC Rallye Deutschland, as he set the third-quickest time - just half a second off rally leader Sebastien Loeb - and moved up to fifth overall.
Prodrive MINI driver Sordo was concerned about a gearshift glitch, but very pleased with his improved pace.
"The time is good but when I try to change from sixth to fifth, it's really, really hard and I lose time with the car in neutral," said Sordo. "But the times are becoming better and better, so this is the most important thing."
The stage win went to Jari-Matti Latvala, his second in three stages this afternoon. After flying through stage four, Latvala had been staggered to see how much time he dropped just by backing off slightly on stage five, but made amends on Grafschaft to beat Loeb by 0.3s.
"It was a big lesson for me what happened on the middle one," said Latvala. "It was just unbelievable when you back off a bit and suddenly the time is not there. You just need to keep pushing if you want to fight with him."
Loeb ended the day with a 20s lead over Petter Solberg and a 29s advantage back to Latvala - a result that left the FIA World Rally champion satisfied.
"For sure I'm happy," said Loeb. "We are leading so that's really good. We've started to increase our lead a little bit.
"On this stage it was a bit harder to extend our lead because it is a bit faster and easier and it's impossible to make a difference."
Just behind the two Fords, Thierry Neuville is still showing well in fourth place for Citroen Junior.
Sordo's move up to fifth was at the expense of Mikko Hirvonen. The Citroen man had been struggling for confidence all day and felt that he had made a breakthrough on stage five, although he would ultimately still lose ground.
"It's better, it's going in the right direction," Hirvonen insisted. "I haven't tried anymore. I've just been cruising and driving around and it's given me a better rhythm.
"I was trying way too hard in the morning and trying to force myself and it just didn't work. It's not the way to drive this car."
Ott Tanak remains seventh, with Mads Ostberg ruing his lack of asphalt experience and testing in eighth. Chris Atkinson is satisfied with his form so far in the WRC Team Portugal MINI in ninth, ahead of Volkswagen driver Sebastien Ogier's Super 2000 Skoda.