We review the WRC drivers from last weekend’s ADAC Rallye Deutschland with the first of a two-part round-up.
Sébastien Ogier (Volkswagen Polo R)
Just as it had been in 2013, Germany was a rally Ogier will want to forget. We’re not used to seeing the defending champion fluff things, so it was a shock to see him chuck his Polo off the road not once but twice. Early on there were signs all was not well. He was critical of his driving and his car’s set-up on SS1. Later he said he was distracted and had lacked motivation. Was lucky to escape with his title lead intact thanks to Latvala’s own goal.
Kris Meeke (Citroen DS3)
Meeke’s exit only minutes after inheriting the lead had people in all corners of the Trier service park shaking their heads. His best chance yet of a first win at world championship level was derailed by one over-optimistic pace note on the recce. It was a cruel end to an otherwise excellent rally. The Briton had driven within himself, and was the closest challenger to the mighty VWs. Fortunately, Meeke and his team-boss were quick to seize on the positives and Citroen is standing by him.
Elfyn Evans (Ford Fiesta RS)
The modest Welshman reckoned Germany was his best performance yet in a world rally car – and we’d have to agree. Fourth overall matches his best finish yet in a World Rally Car, and the fact that this was his first tarmac event in the Fiesta RS makes it a bigger achievement. Always out to improve himself, Evans can be proud of the consistency he showed in Germany. He must also take some private satisfaction from beating his more experienced team-mate Mikko Hirvonen.
Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20)
Rolling six times at shakedown wasn’t the best start for the Belgian, but the zero to hero story that followed more than made amends. Neuville said his win reminded him of Petter Solberg’s at the 2003 Tour de Corse, after he wrecked his Subaru at shakedown. Although Neuville won’t be winning the title this year – as Solberg did in 2003 – his maiden victory was well deserved and will give him and the Korean squad a massive confidence boost.
Robert Kubica (Ford Fiesta RS)
It was another rally of highs and lows for Kubica, who failed to finish the event – this time through no fault of his own. Any chance of a decent result went out the window on the opening day when he slipped slightly off the road and lost four minutes before spectators could push him back on. Highs of two stage wins followed on day two, when he capitalized on an advantageous start position, but he was gone early on Sunday when his car got stuck in third gear before the opening stage.
Martin Prokop (Ford Fiesta RS)
Prokop’s rally week began with him being rushed to hospital with a serious allergic reaction after he was stung by a bee during the recce. Sadly his fortunes didn’t improve much once the event proper got underway. Initially he struggled to get into the rhythm of the stages, but later he admitted he had no idea what the problem was. Found better form as the event went on, but after dropping more than two minutes on the opening day, he was a long way off the pace, and was lucky to scrape seventh.