Volkswagen’s Andreas Mikkelsen led ADAC Rallye Deutschland at the end of the opening morning after team-mate Sébastien Ogier surrendered his early lead with an overshoot at a hairpin.
Stage info: SS2
The stage is familiar, but was driven in the opposite direction to last year. It’s a typical German vineyard test, zig-zagging up and down the hillsides with short stretches of main road to link the narrow service tracks. There is more space on the edges of the roads and that allows plenty of opportunities for cutting.
Mikkelsen wasn’t the fastest driver in the second stage at Moselland, but the hard work he had done in SS1 meant he jumped to the head of the pack by 2.7s when Ogier faltered.
The Norwegian was a happy man when he saw the time sheets because his second stage performance hadn’t been to his liking. “That was not a really good stage – I did a lot of mistakes,” he admitted.
“This stage was run in 2013 and I didn’t do the rally that year. There is so much note information and you have to be so accurate. Sometimes it’s just too much and I can’t get it all into my head.”
Thierry Neuville also leapt ahead of Ogier in SS2, despite damaging a wheel on his Hyundai i20 WRC when he was a little too keen with the throttle pedal at a hairpin. “It was a tight hairpin and I hit a stone in the road,” he said. “The end of the stage felt nice but the beginning was not good.”
Ogier found himself trailing his Belgian rival by 4.1s at the end of an eventful first morning on Germany’s asphalt roads. But he wasn’t overly concerned that he had dropped two places with an uncharacteristic error.
The reigning world champion said: “I did a mistake at the beginning of the stage when I missed the hairpin and had to go back. But it’s okay. It’s not an easy stage.”
Hyundai’s second i20 WRC ended the morning in fourth place as Dani Sordo got to grips with the conditions. The Spaniard was only 3.5s behind Ogier but felt that he could have been much faster if he hadn’t been having to contend with an unhelpful amount of understeer.
Ott Tänak struggled for grip in Mosseland, a legacy of him not being able to cool his Fiesta’s Dmack tyres on the short road section after the opening stage. He was only sixth fastest in the stage, but retained his fifth place and a 6.6s advantage over Stéphane Lefebvre who was running in a privately-entered DS 3 WRC.
M-Sport’s Mads Østberg dropped to seventh on SS2 after suffering with a number of problems in the stage.
“Many things are not right,” he explained. “The brakes were not working just before the stage, there’s something wrong with the steering on the front and the handbrake is not working. It’s not been easy.”
Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon completed the list of World Rally Cars that were still running at the end of the first morning. The Kiwi, still finessing his skills on his least-favoured stage surface, was eighth – more than a minute off Mikkelsen’s benchmark pace.
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