Friday | 21 Aug 2015

SS4: Latvala edges clear of Ogier

Almost 70km of flat out asphalt action on Friday morning at ADAC Rallye Deutschland and just a tenth of a second separated Jari-Matti Latvala and team-mate Sébastien Ogier as they returned to Trier for service.

Stage info: SS3/4

SS3: Moselland 1, 23.24km
The rally’s first journey into the vineyards and it’s typical of the tests found on the banks of the Mosel river. Narrow fast roads, used to access the vines, are lined by walls on one side and a drop to the road below on the other. It climbs and descends via strings of hairpin bends and apart from the opening 4.6km, it’s a repeat of the 2014 test.

SS4: Mittelmosel 1, 13.67km
After an initial section among the grapes, the stage crosses open fields before entering the vines again shortly before the midpoint, dropping downhill through a sequence of hairpin bends. The sections between the bends are very fast with plenty of opportunities for cutting. Much of this stage was used in 2011, but the opening and closing kilometres are new.

After trailing his Volkswagen Polo R colleague through the opening two speed tests on country roads, Latvala upped the pace in the vineyards on the banks of the Mosel river to lead by the slenderest of margins.

He was 2.3sec faster through Moselland to overturn a 1.8sec deficit, and although Ogier claimed his third stage win of the morning in Mittelmosel, Latvala held on to his lead.

“It’s getting better,” said Latvala at the end of SS4. “It’s all about getting the braking right and I’ve found it hard to do that. It was more difficult than I thought this morning but now it’s service and normally this rally is easier in the afternoon.”

Ogier was happy, but not totally satisfied. “The set-up is better now but I’m not driving perfectly. I’m driving a good rally but I’m looking for perfection and I don’t have that at the moment,” he said.

Andreas Mikkkelsen was ultra-consistent, the Norwegian third in all four stages to lie 15.9sec off the lead and give Volkswagen a handsome 1-2-3.

Likewise, Kris Meeke had a full collection of fourth fastest times. The Ulsterman trailed Mikkelsen by 5.5sec in Citroën’s DS 3 despite breaking a wheel rim in Moselland after swiping a kerb as he powered out of a slow junction.

Dani Sordo headed Hyundai i20 team-mate Thierry Neuville by 2.9sec to round off the top six. Sordo struggled with loose gravel dragged onto the road by the cars ahead, but Neuville admitted he simply wasn’t driving fast enough.

Elfyn Evans dropped to seventh after resetting the handbrake in his Ford Fiesta RS in SS3, while Hayden Paddon, Mads Østberg and Ott Tänak completed the leaderboard.

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