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2015 Rallye Deutschland - Ogier heads a Volkswagen lock-out


Reigning FIA World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier tops the leaderboard of ADAC Rallye Deutschland after the first full day of competition. Dicing with team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, the Frenchman pulled out a 9.5 second advantage by the end of the day after a string of fastest times this afternoon. Behind second-placed Latvala, Andreas Mikkelsen, third, rounds off a great day for Volkswagen Motorsport in its home round of the Championship.

Rallye Deutschland got underway last night with a spectacular start ceremony in front of the historic Porta Nigra Roman Gate in the centre of Trier. Today the action kicked off in earnest with two identical loops of four stages covering 136.30 competitive kilometres over a variety of tricky roads, including those in the vineyards. Ogier set the pace in the opening stage and was lucky to escape unscathed after a hitting a straw bale. It proved to be his only error throughout the day and while pushed hard by Latvala, who led briefly, the Frenchman will be happy to have returned to Trier topping the timesheets on an event that has been cruel to him in recent years. Team-mate Latvala was never far adrift and the Finn took the lead after the third stage and headed into the lunchtime service with the slimmest advantage of one-tenth of a second. This afternoon however he lost a bit of time on the gravel-strewn tarmac roads, but nevertheless remains a threat to Ogier. Mikkelsen took it too steady this morning as he re-acclimatised himself with sealed-surface rallying and this afternoon lost time fearing a puncture in stage 7 after hitting something. While he is 34.9 seconds adrift of Ogier, the Polo R WRC is again proving to be the car to beat as it locks out the provisional podium on the ninth round of the Championship.

Citroën’s Kris Meeke was Volkswagen’s nearest challenger for most of the day, the Northern Irish driver fourth until he was caught out on loose gravel and skidded into a field in the sixth stage. Damaging the front left corner, he lost over 90 seconds and continued to haemorrhage time in the following two stages with makeshift repairs to the damper. He is now a disappointing 25th but paved the way for a great battle between the Hyundai drivers. Thierry Neuville initially held the advantage but he and team-mate Dani Sordo battled throughout the afternoon, trading times and positions until a top three time in the final stage cemented Sordo’s fourth position, albeit just 1.9 seconds ahead of Neuville. The Spaniard lacked confidence earlier and was lucky to escape after spinning into a ditch this afternoon. Neuville has had his share of ‘moments’ too and overnights in fifth. Elfyn Evans holds sixth; like everyone he struggled for grip this morning but then lost time in the twisty vineyards with no handbrake and had a spin this afternoon. Despite this, he is only 13.4 seconds adrift of fifth but has team-mate Ott Tanak chasing him down in the sister Fiesta RS WRC. Hayden Paddon holds eighth, the Kiwi driver still learning on tarmac but managing to hold off Mads Østberg in ninth. One of the finest drives of the day has come from Frenchman Stephane Lefebvre, the reigning FIA Junior WRC Champion making his debut in a world rally car. He is 10th in the DS 3 WRC.

While there were no leading retirements, Martin Prokop had an eventful afternoon with two offs in one stage, as well as a spin, and Robert Kubica suffered similarly. He was also unlucky to incur a five minute penalty before the start, having been forced to change the engine.

Action has also been fast and furious in the FIA WRC 2 Championship and Czech driver Jan Kopecky tops the leaderboard in the Skoda Fabia R5. Andrea Crugnola was the only starter in the FIA WRC 3 Championship category but the Italian has survived the day in his Renault Clio R3T.

ADAC Rallye Deutschland – Unofficial Results after Section 2

1.   Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia

Volkswagen Polo R WRC

1hr 19min 13.5sec

2.   Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila

Volkswagen Polo R WRC

1hr 19min 23.0sec

3.   Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene

Volkswagen Polo R WRC

1hr 19min 48.4sec

4.   Dani Sordo/Marc Marti

Hyundai i20 WRC

1hr 20min 20.3sec

5.   Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul

Hyundai i20 WRC

1hr 20min 22.2sec

6.   Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

1hr 20min 35.6sec

7.   Ott Tanak/Raigo Molder

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

1hr 20min 41.3sec

8.   Hayden Paddon/John Kennard

Hyundai i20 WRC

1hr 20min 44.9sec

9.   Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson


1hr 20min 48.9sec

10. Stephane Lefebvre/Stephane Prevot


1hr 21min 40.8sec