Ott Tänak regained the lead of ADAC Rallye Deutschland on Friday afternoon as torrential rain soaked the Mosel vineyard roads.
Stage info: SS6/7
SS6: Mittelmosel 2, 22.00km
The initial section is all about the vineyards above the Mosel river. It is littered with hairpins, both downhill and uphill, and tricky junctions among the grapes. After exiting the vines, there is a 1.3km blast along a main road to the village of Rivenich, which drivers leave across open fields. The stage becomes more open before ending with another string of hairpins.
SS7: Grafschaft 2, 18.35km
This is a typical vineyard test, with a high wall on one side of the road, a drop into the grapes on the other and plenty of unseen junctions. However, there is a 3km section early on which crosses open fields. The many junctions mean plenty of dirt will be dragged onto the roads by cars making cuts. Last used in 2015.
He won both the Mittelmosel and Grafschaft speed tests in his Ford Fiesta to relegate Andreas Mikkelsen to second by 4.5sec with one special stage remaining in the opening leg.
The roads were drenched and many drivers fitted Michelin’s full wet tyres for the first time since they were introduced 12 months ago.
Tänak mixed full wets with soft compound rubber but was lucky to survive Mittelmosel (pictured).
“At a hairpin I pulled the handbrake but couldn’t see out of the car and went straight into the vines. I was very lucky to get back. The next stage was very tricky. Maybe I should have pushed more, but after the previous stage I wanted to have a clean run,” he said.
Mikkelsen also used full wets in his Citroën C3 and was delighted with the grip in the mud and standing water.
“They were the right choice for me. The first stage was a mudbath. I’m really happy not to lose more time from being so far back in the running order in this rain,” said Mikkelsen, who nevertheless overshot a corner into a field.
Sébastien Ogier was third in both tests to retain third overall in his Ford Fiesta, 5.4sec behind Mikkelsen. Title rival Thierry Neuville climbed to fourth in his Hyundai i20, but it wasn’t all plain sailing for the Belgian either.
“I was on the maximum but there was so much wheelspin and locking under braking,” he said at the finish of Grafschaft. “I tried to adjust the differential in the stage but many times we nearly went off the road.”
Neuville trailed Ogier by 18.7sec and was 18.8sec ahead of Elfyn Evans, who struggled for traction in the braking zones. Craig Breen completed the top six after Esapekka Lappi damaged the front left of his Yaris in Grafschaft and retired.