Germany countdown: 2017 rewind
Beginning our countdown to ADAC Rallye Deutschland (16-19 August) we look back at last year’s event, where Ott Tänak mastered his tyre strategy in changeable weather to take his second win at WRC level.
Thursday 17/Friday 18 August
At the wheel of his Ford Fiesta, Tänak battled through stages turned into a mudbath by heavy rain to lead by 5.7sec at the end of the first leg after a close battle with Citroën’s guest driver - and early leader - Andreas Mikkelsen.
Trailing the lead duo by 22.5sec, the battle was hotting up between joint championship leaders Thierry Neuville and Sébastien Ogier. The pair had a scrappy run with Neuville twice damaging his Hyundai’s aero on the way to third, while M-Sport Ford team driver Ogier was 2.4sec behind after two spins in his Fiesta.
Ogier’s team-mate Elfyn Evans battled understeer to claim fifth, just ahead of Juho Hänninen who made a trip through the Mosel grapevines in his Yaris.
Kris Meeke restarted under Rally 2 on Friday after a shocking early exit on Thursday’s super special stage when he clipped a barrier and broke his Citroën C3’s steering.
Saturday 19 August
Tänak extended his lead on the rally’s longest day to 21.4sec while Mikkelsen dropped back after a spin, a stall and a generally over-cautious approach on the drying stages.
Behind the leaders, the championship battle took a twist when Neuville retired with broken suspension after hitting a kerb on the first stage and Ogier moved up to third.
A shrewd tyre choice allowed Hänninen to move up to fourth for a time, but a broken damper later cost him time and allowed Evans to take the place.
Three trips into fields around the Baumholder military complex didn’t stop Craig Breen from ending the day in sixth. The Irishman benefited from closest rival Jari-Matti Latvala losing two minutes when he stopped to change a puncture.
Sunday 20 August
Tänak sealed his second career win by 16.4sec after a relatively steady run through the final four stages while Mikkelsen turned his focus on defending second place from Ogier.
In the end, the Frenchman decided not to risk losing a podium finish, and he played it safe to bank the points instead. Two extra points for fourth place on the Power Stage moved him 17 points clear of Neuville in the championship battle.
Hänninen claimed fourth after re-passing Evans in the morning. Worse was to follow for the Welshman who struggled with his tyres and toppled to sixth after a last-stage steal from Breen.
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