As if Rally Finland wasn’t action packed enough Rally Germany took it up to another level. With Germany being the home turf of Volkwagen, and their dominance with Sebastien Ogier, you certainly wouldn’t have betted against them. After the 2 stages of Day 1 It was a VW 1-2 with Ogier leading and Latvala 2nd.
But on the first stage of the morning on Day 2, Sebastien Ogier braked too late into a hairpin and went straight off the road. He managed to continue on to the end of the stage but the damage had been done, broken wheel, puncture and suspension damaged, drops 2 and a half mins. Having to let his team mate pass him on the stage. Then on the following stage, the damage was just too much and despite repairs, the car was finished. And Ogier had to retire. Elsewhere Mads clipped concrete block after going wide on the exit of a corner and picked up a broken wheel. PG Andersson Stopped in stage. Kosciuszko hit something and hurt his back and can’t use hand brake coz his in too much pain, Al-Quassimi also broken wheel after hitting a kurb. Latvala leads, Neuville 5.8 seconds behind.
So it was down to Latvala and Neuville. They’d begun the day 7 seconds apart: Neuville won four stages in a row, but Latvala grew in confidence, while Neuville’s tyres went off. Latvala won the final 2 stages of the day and his lead overnight was 7.3 seconds. Not far behind them was Dani Sordo in 3rd 26.3 seconds off the lead, but 21.3 seconds up on his teammate Mikko Hirvonen in 4th.
After a days rallying along the tight, narrow winding hairpin filled roads along the Moselle river up in between the vineyards. It was onto the wide concrete military roads. Featuring the longest stage of the rally, the famous Panzerplatte, used for testing Tanks the roads have teeth. Also known as Hinkelstein’s and will stop any Rally car in its tracks.
Dani seemed to really enjoy the stages of Day 3, setting fastest time on SS10. Leader Latvala continued to take time out of 2nd place Neuville. Before they reached the panzerplatte stage, Latvala extended his lead from Neuville to 10.6 seconds, Dani now 25.6 seconds away from the lead.
Ogier returning under Rally2 rules started the day in 49th place, and his only motivation was just to set fastest stage times. That he did in Plazerplatte and was 8 seconds faster than team mate and rally leader Latvala. Latvala managed to take more time out of Thierry Neuville. But he came back battled scarred. On a wet slipery section the fin slid wide and hit one of them tank stopping teeth, luckly hitting the door rather than his wheels. A very lucky escape for the VW driver. Saying at stage end, “There was one left hand corner in the forest, very slippery, we went wide we hit the Hinkelstein, very lucky.” Neuville came through the stage, trying to manage his tyres and take time out of Latvala but couldn’t managed it on this stage. First commenting on where he saw the marks of where Latvala went off. “He was very lucky!” I’m very pleased with my driving, I tried to manage my tyres, at the end i tried to get a little back from Jari, but not enough.”
On the following stage, drama hit the rally again. The damage that Latvala picked up on the previous stage meant that the door on the Co-Drivers side wouldn’t close. Co-Driver Mikka having to hold the door closed while reading the pace notes and turn the pages. This distraction and juggling with the door and his pace note book caused him to read some notes late, sending latvala wide and hitting his rear wheel. Damaging the suspension, the Fin tried to continue on, until finally the suspension gave up on his Polo and sent him veering off the road and out of the rally. Not only had the Leader of the Rally gone out but the final Volkwagen was out of their home rally. With Mikkelsen out before it started with his injured Co-Driver, Ogier out on day 2 and now Latvala, it was the end for Volkwagen.
This would mean that Qatar M-Sports Thierry Neuville would now lead the rally. However, it wasn’t as simple as that. Neuville had scatted off the wet slippery road and into a fence. He managed to continue on, but the wood post had not only damaged his Fiesta but had became apart of it. He made it to the end of the stage as the overall leader, but had to do some quick repair work on the road side before he could continue on. And dig that post out of his fiesta. Behind, Sordo, now 2nd, had now moved to within 1.1 seconds of Neuville and if Neuville was unable to get full performance out of his fiesta on the next stage could easily gain the lead.
And that was exactly what he did on the following stage. Neuville nursing his fiesta but still trying to keep in touch with Sordo. They ended SS13 Now with Sordo in the lead and Neuville only 8 tenths of a second away in 2nd place. Citroen’s Mikko Hirvonen was 3rd. Unfortunately, due to a fatal accident on the first run through the Plazerplatte stage were one of the historic crashed, the 2nd run through the stage was cancelled. The thoughts and memories go out to the family and friends of those involved in the incident. A reminder that Motorsport is dangerous and why the FIA are still continuing to improve safety in our Sport.
This meant that only 0.8 seconds stood between Sordo And Neuville with just 2 stages left on the final day. The Rally World were not only in for a great battle but was also going to see a new winner on tarmac.
First stage of the final day and Citroen’s Dani Sordo had the advantage, despite making a small mistake in the stage. Neuville pushed, maybe too hard as his brakes started going towards the end. This meant Sordo extended his lead by just 3 seconds. “At the beginning I think I made a small mistake, I lost a little time but now Its ok. I can try as much as possible, I fight.”
Neuville said at the end of the stage, “I lost a little bit the brakes and then the confidence, Could stiffer, it is moving too much. Now we will try again. Everything is possible, we will try everything now!”
Now onto the final Power stage, which was the previous stage, Dhrontal repeated. Just 24.58km’s and 3 seconds from Neuville stood in the way of Sordo and his first ever WRC Victory. Neuville was first into the stage. The Fiesta driver was 2.6 Slower than Sordo through the first split. But he responded to the times feed into the car from Sordo and pushed on. the 2nd split showed that Neuville had picked up pace, but still wouldn’t be enough to take the lead. the Belgium needed to be faster. And so pushed harder. By the 3rd stage split time, Neuville was a second faster than Sordo, but that still wouldn’t be enough to win. With not too much to loose, Thierry Floored his fiesta, trying to go faster and faster, With Sordo behind him on the road, Also with the times being feed into the car, he was chasing him and respond back. By the time Sordo reached the 4th Stage split. the two drivers were neck and neck. Just the few final kilometers to go. Neuville gave it everything he had. But with both of them pushing over the limit, Neuville made a mistake and went off the road. Dani Sordo came through the finish line…. the Spaniard was finally a WRC winner.
After over 10 years of trying, and most of that having to give way to Loeb, he took his first ever WRC win. Long time deserved. And there were very emotional scenes at the stop line as Thierry Neuville came home to finish 2nd in his mud covered Ford Fiesta RS, in the end loosing 50 seconds with his off. Citroen have never lost Rally Germany since it started back in 2002. There was a massive amount of pressure on Their drivers this weekend with Loeb now retired, to keep that record. Dani Sordo was always the perfect team driver. Backing up Loeb for so many years, and even giving up his chances to win, several times to allow Loeb to get his titles. And he once again did his job, only this time his job was to win. Sordo’s team mate Mikko Hirvonen managed to take 3rd place, gaining important manufacture points for Citroen Racing.
Qatar M-Sport Driver Thierry Neuville took his 3rd 2nd place in a row. And still hold 2nd in the drivers Championship.
In WRC2 Robert Kubica takes another win and 5th place overall With Evans 2nd and Hayden Paddon the fastest of the S2000 and 3rd in WRC2.
Overall Results of Rally Germany Winner Dani Sordo 2. Neuville +53 3. Hirvonen +2:36.1 4. Propkop +8:00.1 5. Kubica +9:01.3 6. Evans +9:14.2 7. Latvala +9:55.0 8. Paddon +13:01.2 9. Ostberg +13:28.1 10.Novikov +15:17.9