Simone Tempestini showed strong asphalt pace on the opening day of ADAC Rallye Deutschland to carve out an overnight lead of 12.1s in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship category.
The Italian, who had his championship advantage trimmed to 18 points in Finland last month, started strongly and two fastest stage times helped him to stay ahead of his rivals in the end of day standings.
Tempestini, who doesn’t class asphalt as his favourite stage surface, said: “It’s been very difficult and I couldn’t imagine leading when we did the recce. It’s a very long rally and we’ll have to drive carefully.”
Tempestini’s cause was helped even more when his main championship rival Ole Christian Veiby, quickest during the pre-event shakedown, went off the road on the first stage. Losing 12 minutes put him out of contention.
Martin Koci, who led the way after the first and third stages, was second at the overnight halt and enjoyed a 1m 11.5s advantage over Terry Folb who was third.
The Frenchman had endured a bumpy ride to the end of the fifth stage DS 3 R3T having admitted to going off the road in a handful of places but he enjoyed a 44.5s advantage over Romain Martel in fifth. Vincent Dubert completed the top-six places, albeit more than three minutes shy of Tempestini’s benchmark pace.