Monday | 29 Dec 2014

2014 Highlights: Fumbled leads in Germany

Runner-up in our 2014 highlights countdown is the slippery lead of ADAC Rallye Deutschland - a position that three top drivers found it impossible to hold on to.

Championship leader Ogier was first to go. The Frenchman was leading by 5.5sec on Friday’s fifth and final stage when he braked too late, sending his Polo R careering off the road down a hillside and onto an access road below. It was Ogier’s second retirement in two years at the home round of his Volkswagen team.

Some consolation to VW was the fact that Ogier’s exit handed his team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala, a handsome 37-second lead and another chance of the rally win. But he didn’t quite make it.

Latvala, chasing his first asphalt win to reignite his title bid, was almost a minute clear on Sunday afternoon when he started the first of the final four stages in the vineyards. Eight kilometres into the opening Dhrontal stage his car slipped off the road and buried itself in the vines (above). It didn’t come out.

Ogier's car was marooned on a vineyard access road.

The Finn’s demise left Briton Kris Meeke with an 8.4sec lead and his best opportunity yet to take a maiden win at WRC level. But this didn’t last either, and Meeke crashed into a wall early in the following Grafschaft stage, ripping the rear left wheel from his Citroen DS3.

The drama handed a surprised Thierry Neuville a 35.7sec advantage over his Hyundai team-mate Dani Sordo with only two stages  to go before the Trier finish.

Neuville, who had crashed at the pre-event shakedown, kept his cool and went on to claim his, and Hyundai’s, first WRC rally victory.

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