Recce notes: ADAC
Rallye Deutschland

The championship's ninth round is a notoriously complex one with stages that fall into three broad categories: open countryside, vineyard roads and military proving grounds. What are they like to drive? We jumped into the recce car to bring you the low down. Here's what we saw:

Category one: vineyards
Stages that snake along the service roads in the Mosel Vineyards used to have their own day in the itinerary. Now they are spread across all three. This [rather foggy] view across the Mosel Valley shows sections of Friday's Moselland and Mittelmosel stages (SS3/SS4). The route looks pretty clear from this height, but like a maze it's a different story at ground level. Tall vines on both sides of the road give drivers a tunnel-like view and the numerous crests and dips limit forward vision. There are dozens of junctions to choose from, which makes accurate pace notes vital, and the agricultural vehicles that normally use the roads have left lots of dirt around.

Category two: open countryside
The main picture and the one below were taken on the rally's opening stage, the 14km Sauertal, which is pretty typical of the event's open countryside sections. It was raining on Monday when we drove it, and the surface varied from clean and wide (top picture) to narrow and muddy (below). The road had dried by Tuesday, when WRC crews drove it on the recce, but even when dry those dirty sections will be slippery.

Category three: military
This year's rally features five stages on the Baumholder military area and its network of roads used for tank training. The 2.87km Arena Panzerplatte will be run three times and the 45.61km Panzerplatte Long twice. The roads are all in the same area and occasionally meet. The picture below shows a double junction - the right-hand side is part of the Arena stage, while the left is part of the Long test. Panzerplatte Long contains 103 junctions and each one is marked with a numbered sign post.

Latvala's exit point
This barrier, 8km into Sunday's Dhrontal stage, was made famous last year when Jari-Matti crashed into it. The Finn was on course to deliver a home win for Volkswagen when his Polo R slipped off a higher road and burrowed its way through the Mosel vines to this point. Appropriately enough, the writing above the shrine translates as "My pain is great like the sea." Twelve months after being flattened, the surrounding greenery looks in great shape.

Say hello to the rally's signature obstacle. These solid concrete blocks line many of the Baumholder roads and are there to keep tanks from wandering off line. We found this selection 5.5km into the Panzerplatte Long. Petter Solberg and Francois Duval are just two drivers to have wrecked cars on them.

Road sweeping
Asphalt rallies are not known for road sweeping, but on Tuesday there was plenty of evidence of it on Baumholder. Organisers have swept the entire complex to get rid of the layer of dust and gravel and leave the surface clean and grippy.

Bricks and cobbles
Germany is the first pure asphalt round of the season, but over its 374 competitive kilometres there are a few exceptions. Pictured below is part of a 400 metre section of Saturday's Bosensberg (SS10/SS17) that links two clean asphalt roads. The opening section comprises two narrow lines of bricks with grass in between. It later switches to concrete cobbles though which grass is growing. Could be interesting if it's wet.

All pictures: Julian Porter

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