ADAC Rallye Deutschland leader Ott Tänak eased through Sunday morning’s tricky opening speed test in the Mosel vineyards as his Toyota Gazoo Racing team protected their clean sweep of the top three positions.
Stage info: SS16
Grafschaft 1, 28.06km
A mix of vineyard tracks and narrow roads which wind through woods. The first 8.9km run mainly through vines before briefly entering the trees. A second vineyard section leads onto a super-fast main road, before diving back into the woods and only emerging into the open for the final few kilometres. Between Wintrich and Gornhausen, where it starts and ends, there are endless hairpin bends and almost 350 metres of climbing.
With no pressure on his shoulders, Tänak was seventh fastest in the 28.06km Grafschaft special stage. His lead over team-mate Kris Meeke stood at 25.1sec with three more tests remaining in this 10th round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
“Clean run and no worries,” said the Estonian Yaris driver. “There are many new sections so you really need to focus.”
Third quickest for Meeke was sufficient to increase his advantage over Jari-Matti Latvala to almost 20sec, the Finn more than 16sec off the pace of stage winner Thierry Neuville.
Second fastest for Dani Sordo, completing a Hyundai i20 1-2 in the stage, enabled the Spaniard to cut his deficit to Latvala to 16.1sec but the Finn was unconcerned.
“Dani was on the attack and I just took it steadily. No panic. It’s OK," explained Latvala.
Andreas Mikkelsen and Esapekka Lappi exchanged places as the Norwegian dropped more than 10sec when he went off the road, allowing Lappi to move up to sixth in the lead Citroën C3.