OTT Tänak started ADAC Rallye Deutschland on Thursday night in the same way he ended Neste Rally Finland three weeks ago – at the front of the field.
PHOTO: Ott Tänak shaves off a mirror during the opening stage of ADAC Rallye Deutschland (Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool
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The Toyota Yaris driver grabbed an early lead in the WRC’s 10th round after setting fastest time in the short opening stage, St Wendeler Land. He headed Dani Sordo’s Hyundai i20 by 0.8sec., while world champion Sébastien Ogier was 0.1sec. further back in a Citroën C3.
The drivers knew every centimetre of the country-lane test having driven it several times earlier in the day during the usual shakedown test. Just three seconds covered the top 10.
Evidence of how hard Tänak was trying was clear as he finished with both wing mirrors missing.
“I think it will be extremely tight, the stages are really fast. We try to win every rally and this weekend will be no different,” said the Estonian, who is targeting a fifth win of the season to consolidate his lead in the drivers’ standings.
Thierry Neuville was fourth in another i20, a second off the pace, with Yaris teammates Kris Meeke and Jari-Matti Latvala completing the top six.
Esapekka Lappi was joint-fastest at the mid-stage split but the Finn slid his C3 wide at a chicane and dropped to eighth. Andreas Mikkelsen was one place further back after easing off when he mistakenly thought he had a puncture in his i20.
The rally resumes on Friday with a leg focused on the Mosel’s narrow and bumpy vineyard service roads.
Stein und Wein (19.44km) and Mittelmosel (22.00km) are littered with tight hairpins before the action switches to the tricky lapping country road stage at Wadern-Weiskirchen (9.27km). All three tests are driven twice.
Outright standings after Thursday:
1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2m39.4s
2 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +0.8s
3 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +0.9s
4 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1.0s
5 Kris Meeke/Seb Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1.4s
6 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1.6s
7 Teemu Suninen/Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1.9s
8 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +1.9s
9 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger-Amland (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2.5s
10 Gus Greensmith/Elliott Edmondson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3.0s