SS16: Dramatic start to final day
Thierry Neuville climbed to second place at ADAC Rallye Deutschland following a dramatic opening speed test in the Mosel vineyards which sidelined Jari-Matti Latvala and delayed Dani Sordo.
Stage info: SS16
Grafschaft 1, 29.07km
A mix of vineyard tracks and narrow roads which wind through woods. The first 8.9km are a new addition to the traditional Grafschaft test, running mainly through vines before briefly entering the trees. A second vineyard section leads onto a super-fast main road, before diving back into the woods and only emerging into the open for the final few kilometres.
Latvala stopped his Toyota Yaris with mechanical problems on the liaison section from the Bostalsee service park to the Grafschaft special stage. The Finn started the 29.07km test at reduced speed and eventually parked 1km from the finish with transmission issues.
Sordo made a costly mistake early in the stage. “I went really fast in a right corner and hit the vineyards. It broke the windscreen and I can’t see anything. The temperature is a little bit high so I think I damaged something,” explained the Spaniard.
He dropped 1min 20sec to plunge to seventh and stopped after the finish to work on his Hyundai i20. He and co-driver Carlos Del Barrio removed the shattered windscreen and poured fluid into the engine from their drinks bags to offset a water leak.
Neuville was the beneficiary of the chaos. The Belgian was fastest in his i20 to move up from fourth and lie 43.9sec behind leader Ott Tänak. But it wasn’t all plain sailing for him either.
“A really tricky stage. I made a couple of mistakes where I went into the field but I always saved it,” he explained.
All was calm inside Tänak’s Yaris as he closed on a second straight victory. He was fourth fastest but witnessed some of the drama of those starting ahead.
“Very clean for me but I saw from the beginning the lines were far away from the road. There was everything on the road from trees to bushes so obviously the guys were pushing,” explained the Estonian.
Pushing too hard was Mads Østberg, who went off into a field after 23km. “We just know that he lost the rear on a fast corner and went off in a field. There is some damage underneath the car and he won't be able to restart,” said team principal Pierre Budar.
Esapekka Lappi was third to climb into a podium place in his Yaris, 12.7sec behind Neuville, while Sébastien Ogier was second, promoting the Frenchman’s Ford Fiesta to fourth. Both he and team-mate Teemu Suninen moved ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen, who remained sixth.
Saturday in Germany: Ogier error leaves Tänak clear
Sordo and Latvala duel for second
WRC 2 in Germany: Rovanperä takes the lead
Day of attrition for WRC 2 runners
SS12/13: Blow for Ogier
Sordo climbs to second