PHOTO: Jari-Matti Latvala climbs through the Mosel vineyards on his way to equal-fastest Shakedown time in Germany (Volkswagen pic)
JARI-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen shared fastest time in Thursday’’s shakedown at ADAC Rallye Deutschland, Round 9 of the FIA World Rally Championship.
Hyundai’s Dani Sordo was quickest in the first run through the 4.55km Konz test, a mix of country roads and vineyard tracks near the rally base of Trier.
With the stakes high for his Volkswagen Motorsport team to secure a repeat 1-2-3 on its home event, Mikkelsen lowered the best time on each of his next three runs before his colleague Latvala matched it on his fifth and final pass.
The Finn completed more runs than his front-running rivals as he tried to find a perfect set-up in his Polo R.
“After my pre-event test I realised that maybe my car was too soft,” Latvala said.
“I didn’t get the best feeling when we started this morning so we went stiffer with the settings to fine-tune the right balance. Everything felt good in the last run and that’s the set-up I will start with.”
Referring to an announcement Germany will be the last rally for team principal Jost Captio before he moves to the McLaren Formula 1 team, Latvala added: “It is obviously a special rally for Volkswagen – after all, it is not every day your team principal leaves you. We are out to give him a worthy send-off. Let’s see what I can do to contribute.”
Drivers are on tarmac for the first time since January’s season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo and Latvala said it took time to adjust to sealed-surface roads after six successive gravel rounds.
“When I started testing I was braking very, very early and didn’t trust myself in the turns. It takes about 50km before you start to get in the groove and get the confidence back,” he said.
Sordo finished 0.5sec behind the Volkswagen duo, with Sébastien Ogier a further two-tenths of a second back. Hayden Paddon and Thierry Neuville were tied in fifth in Hyundai i20s, 1.3sec off the leading pace.
Shakedown Top 10:
1= Jari-Matti Latvala (Volkswagen Polo R) 2min 21.1sec
1= Andreas Mikkelsen (Volkswagen Polo R) 2min 21.1sec
3. Dani Sordo (Hyundai i20) 2min 21.6sec
4. Sébastien Ogier (Volkswagen Polo R) 2min 21.8sec
5= Hayden Paddon (Hyundai i20) 2min 22.4sec
5= Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20) 2min 22.4sec
7. Stéphane Lefebvre (Citroen DS3) 2min 22.7sec
8. Eric Camilli (Ford Fiesta RS) 2min 24.1sec
9. Ott Tänak (Ford Fiesta RS) 2min 24.9sec
10. Mads Østberg (Ford Fiesta RS) 2min 26.6sec