Stunning vineyards, a hard-as-nails military proving ground, awkward surface changes and a new collection of hay bales. Here's what caught our eye on the pre-event recce for ADAC Rallye Deutschland.
Hit the vines
Germany is the first all-asphalt round of the season and comprises three distinctly different types of roads. First up, on Friday, are the vineyard roads of the Moselle region.
These narrow tracks snake between the grapes and are used by wine growers to reach their crops. Tall vines on both sides of the road give drivers a tunnel-like view and the numerous crests and dips limit forward vision. There are dozens of junctions and hairpin turns, many of which throw in surface changes too.
The main picture [above] 3.2km into the opening Mittelmosel stage (SS1), shows a good example. Cars will cut the slight-right corner on the approach to the tight left-hand junction in the foreground. Note the surface change from asphalt to concrete to asphalt - and the evil looking kerb stone on the inside. Below is one of the most photographed of the vineyard hairpins, 3km into Moselland (SS2). And yes, that's the Moselle river in the background.
The rally's second type of road is found at the military vehicle proving ground at Baumholder. There are a few tweaks to the route this year but the challenge is essentially the same, with three of Saturday's stages criss-crossing the network of roads normally used for tank training exercises.
The road surface is a complex mix of smooth Tarmac, rough Tarmac and old concrete roughed-up by tank tracks. There are stones too, from road sections surfaced by slippery cobbles to the infamous hinkelstein that line many corners to keep vehicles off the grass.
During the recce, the surface was littered with small stones and gravel (pictured below, 33km into Panzerplatte Lang (SS10)) but most of this will have been shifted by road sweepers before the competition starts. We took the second picture 700 metres into the same stage. Petter Solberg's frightening Subaru shunt in 2004 occurred near the top of the picture.
A country drive
The third stage category is the high-speed country roads of the Saarland region. Saturday's all-new opening Frelsen - Westrich [pictured below] is typical, with a fast, narrow road between fields and a few 90 degree junctions to interrupt the driving rhythm.
Corner cutting is widespread in Germany and that brings dust and stones onto the road, or slippery mud if it rains - which it might on Saturday. Like on the previous round in Finland, organisers have taken steps to prevent deep cuts damaging the verges. Many apexes along this year's route are sporting huge hay bales.
All pictures: Omar Avilla