Rally Germany Driver report: part 1
We review the WRC drivers from last weekend’s ADAC Rallye Deutschland
Jari-Matti Latvala (Volkswagen Polo R)
Just when it looked like he had it in the bag, Latvala gave us another reminder of how cruel the World Rally Championship can be. Two days of near perfection were undone by one small pace note error, and the Finn went from hero to zero. It was a devastating blow for Latvala who was in a class of his own for much of the event, and seemed as confident and determined as he had been in Finland. He and psychological coach Christophe Treier have a lot to discuss before Australia.
Mads Ostberg (Citroen DS3)
Germany turned out to be rally to forget for Ostberg, who spent much of it failing to get to grips with the feeling of his Citroen on tarmac. Not helped by comparisons to Meeke, who set off at a terrific speed in the sister DS3, Ostberg quickly became frustrated and complained of ‘just missing a little something’ or not being able to find a rhythm. His consistency improved as the event went on, but by that point the damage was done.
Mikko Hirvonen (Ford Fiesta RS)
Another subdued performance from Hirvonen who bagged fifth but was on target for seventh until Sunday’s retirements. Worse that that, he was beaten by his young team-mate Elfyn Evans - despite a big effort on Sunday. In his post stage comments Hirvonen was often shocked that his times were so far adrift of the Volkswagens - he just couldn’t see how they had made up the time. After a lack-lustre showing on his home rally earlier this month, Hirvonen is under increasing pressure to justify his place in the M-Sport squad.
Dani Sordo (Hyundai i20)
Sordo won last year in a Citroen DS3 but few expected he would be able to get close to that position this time. In the event, he missed out by just one place. Was furious on the opening day about running way down the start order, behind a number of privateers, and facing the worst of the slippery conditions. Got a cleaner run on day two, but admitted to being too cautious and then lost time in a spin after aquaplaning in sixth gear. From then on his focus was keeping Mikkelsen behind.
Bryan Bouffier (Hyundai i20)
This was the first World Rally Championship outing in the i20 for Bouffier who is more used to driving it in his capacity as test driver. But despite his familiarity behind the wheel he wasn’t able to get the best out of it. He struggled to settle into a rhythm on the slippery stages of the opening day and bowed out on Saturday after colliding with a Panzerplatte hinkelstein. Rejoined on Sunday, but had the misfortune to drive off the road and into the vines on the Power Stage - his retirement beamed around the world on live television.
Andreas Mikkelsen (Volkswagen Polo R)
Third was another excellent result for Volkswagen’s protege, especially as he only planned to use the rally as an extended test. Mikkelsen missed Deutschland last year because his co-driver was injured, and his experience of the Polo R on tar was limited to just two and a half stages of Rally Spain 2013 and a pre-event test in unrepresentative full rain conditions. Apart from one spin, from which he had a lucky escape, his cautious strategy worked all weekend and puts him in a better place for the upcoming rounds in France and Spain.