How to: Change to an asphalt set-up
Citroen’s Didier Clément tells us how it’s done
This was a repeat of the 2013 stage, with a short extension at the finish. It ran through open countryside between fields and crossed a couple of villages. It was narrow and bumpy at the beginning, but fast throughout.
Sébastien Ogier was fastest out of the blocks to win the opening Sauertal stage at ADAC Rallye Deutschland in his Volkswagen Polo R. The Frenchman was quickest by 0.4sec from team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, but it wasn’t a clean run for either.
“I expected better grip and was surprised by no grip. I made two mistakes at junctions, so it wasn’t quite perfect,” said Ogier.
Latvala’s error could have been more serious. “I made a mistake at a place I marked in the notes. There was a bank on the inside of a corner and I thought we could cut, but I cut too much and hit the bank. The car went onto two wheels,” he told WRC Live.
Also in difficulties were Mikko Hirvonen, who overshot a junction into a field in his Ford Fiesta RS, and Kris Meeke who damaged the rear of his Citroen DS3.
“I spun at the midpoint,” said Meeke. “I came round a tight right bend and there was gravel on the edge of the road. I got the back wheel on it and didn’t get turned in so I pulled the handbrake and did a 360 degree spin. Not the start I wanted, but the car feels fine.”
A heartening sight was the appearance of Thierry Neuville after Hyundai mechanics worked all night to rebuild his i20 following yesterday’s shakedown roll. The Belgian paid tribute to their tremendous efforts but reported an intermittent handbrake issue. You can view wrc.com’s dramatic photo sequence of his crash here.