Thursday | 13 Aug 2015

Rally rewind: Germany 2014

Last year's ADAC Rallye Deutschland played out like a Hollywood action movie. Favourites came unstuck, leaders came and went, cars scythed through vineyards and a plucky victor pulled off a classic rags-to-riches ending. Here's what happened:

Friday 22 August
The opening day was dominated by the Volkswagen duo Jari-Matti Latvala and Sébastien Ogier. Ogier claimed three fastest times to Latvala’s two to hold a 5.5sec advantage heading into the final Moselland stage. And then, shockingly, Ogier went off. He crashed his Polo R in the hilly vineyard test and emerged from the shrubs onto an access road below. Ogier's car was undamaged but he couldn't find a way back onto the stage. His retirement gave Latvala a 37.0sec advantage over Kris Meeke’s DS 3 while 2013 winner Dani Sordo held third, a further 5.6sec back in a Hyundai i20. Andreas Mikkelsen was 3.0sec behind Sordo in fourth in a Polo R, despite a morning puncture, with Thierry Neuville fifth. Neuville was lucky to be in the rally at all after virtually destroying his i20 rolling it six times on Thursday's Shakedown. Hyundai mechanics had worked all night to get it fixed.

Ogier's second crash happened in sixth gear

Saturday 23 August
Latvala moved within touching distance of his maiden asphalt victory, winning five of the day's seven stages on often wet and muddy roads to stretch his lead to 56.6sec with just Sunday's four speed tests remaining. Behind him, the battle for second was thrilling. Neuville leapfrogged Mikkelsen and team-mate Sordo in the first pass through the Panzerplatte military zone test and set about catching Meeke. The gap closed to 0.4sec when Meeke dropped a handful of seconds with a puncture, but the Northern Irishman battled back to end the day with a 4.3sec advantage. Sordo remained in contact until he aquaplaned and spun, losing 10sec, but he retained fourth, 10.2sec ahead of Mikkelsen. Ogier restarted under Rally 2 regulations but crashed out again - smashing into a roadside barrier in the second stage.

Latvala lost the lead on Sunday's opening stage

Sunday 24 August
In a chaotic final day, Neuville climbed from third to take the rally win - his first at world championship level - after first Latvala and then Meeke crashed out of the lead. The win was the first for Hyundai in its debut year back in the series and Sordo, who finished second, made it a 1-2. Latvala was almost a minute clear when he started the first stage, but he went off in dramatic style - ploughing his Polo through the vines in a vain bid to regain the road. The Finn’s demise left Meeke with an 8.4sec lead, but Meeke crashed into a wall early in the following stage, ripping the rear left wheel from his DS 3. Mikkelsen survived a spin where Latvala crashed to take third, 17.3sec further back. Elfyn Evans excelled on his debut asphalt event in a World Rally Car, matching a career-best fourth place after outgunning more experienced Ford Fiesta RS team-mate Mikko Hirvonen by 6.9sec. Mads Østberg was sixth with Martin Prokop and Dennis Kuipers in seventh and eighth.

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Video: Get set for Germany