A costly mistake by ADAC Rallye Deutschland leader Andreas Mikkelsen allowed Sébastien Ogier to move to within 0.2s of his team-mate after the opening two stages on Saturday morning.
Stage info: SS6
A new stage on country roads started the second day. It was fast all the way with a couple chicanes to keep speeds in check. The roads were narrow for much of the test with plenty of opportunities to cut corners.
Mikkelsen took a 4.3s lead into the second day of competition and the odds of him extending his lead looked strong when it emerged that he had chosen to use soft tyres for predicted damp road conditions, whereas Ogier had opted for a mixed choice of two hard and two soft – believing the road would be drier.
It was a move that paid off for Mikkelsen as a fastest time in the first 14.73km stage allowed the Volkswagen driver to extend his lead out to 5.8s.
But Ogier’s charge was given a significant boost when Mikkelsen suddenly lost time in the opening section of the morning’s second stage at Bosenberg.
Stage info: SS7
Another country test. After starting among the fields, a new opening 4.23km section led onto more familiar roads. It contained a mix of wide and narrow roads across both open fields and tree-lined sections, interspersed with junctions that demanded hard braking.
Mikkelsen dropped 5.6s, meaning the gap to Ogier was reduced to a slender 0.2s heading into the infamous Baumholder military area for three crucial stages later in the morning.
“We went straight in a junction and I had to reverse back out and lost valuable seconds,” Mikkelsen explained. “Okay, that’s life. But we are still in the fight. I tried to push hard to limit the time loss after we made the mistake.”
The race for honours in the WRC 2 category also took a decisive twist in the Bosenberg test. Overnight leader and local favourite Armin Kremer also went straight on in a junction and struggled to find reverse. That cost him 29.3s and, ultimately, allowed fellow Skoda R5 driver Esapekka Lappi to take the lead by a healthy 20.9s.