Dani Sordo continued his impressive march up the ADAC Rallye Deutschland leaderboard at the start of the final day after snatching second place from Andreas Mikkelsen.
Stage info: SS15
Dhrontal 1, 14.79km
Dhrontal has a reputation for providing drama. Two years ago Jari-Matti Latvala’s victory dreams ended in the stage and Thierry Neuville saw his hopes of a win disappear in the same location the previous year. It’s a mix of vineyards and open sections, mainly on narrow roads. The first part is highly technical with many tight junctions while the second part is open and wider.
The Hyundai driver was the form man in the closing stages on Saturday and he took his speed into Sunday morning. His fastest time on the opening 14.79km stage at Dhrontal enabled him to pass Mikkelsen’s Polo R WRC and move to within 22.1s of rally leader Sébastien Ogier.
But Sordo wasn’t getting carried away. He was determined to focus on his neat and tidy driving, rather than spending too much time analysing the time sheets.
“I enjoyed the stage and I tried to do my best,” the Spaniard said. “Okay, I’m second now. But the most important thing is to drive the car and enjoy the stages. After that, we’ll see what happens.”
Mikkelsen attributed his loss of time – 6.1s slower than Sordo – in Dhrontal to a lack of confidence in his Volkswagen’s brakes.
“I did a good stage but I struggled to get a good feeling with the brakes towards the end,” the Norwegian explained. Referring specifically to his car’s brakes pads, he said: “we switched to something we’re not used to.”
Thierry Neuville’s second fastest time in Dhrontal enabled him to keep the pressure on in the three-way battle for second place and he was only 0.6s behind Mikkelsen heading into the next test at Sauertal.
“I tried to have a good stage, but it was quite sticky in there. I went off at the very last corner and too far on the hairpin two times – but it’s okay,” he said.
Volkswagen’s Sébastien Ogier continued to lead the rally after Sunday’s opening test. But dropping 14.9s reduced his overnight lead from 33.4s to 22.1s.