OTT Tänak led ADAC Rallye Deutschland on Thursday night after winning a spectacular opening speed test in St Wendel, but 17-year-old Kalle Rovanperä surprised by taking second in his WRC2 Skoda.
PHOTO: Ott Tanak shaves a turning marker with pinpoint accuracy on his way to winning the first stage of ADAC Rally Deutschland (Toyota pic)
Starting in Germany as he did on his way to winning Rally Finland last month – at the front – the Toyota Yaris driver edged Rovanperä by a tenth of a second through the short 2.04km special stage in the Saarland town. Fellow Skoda Fabia WRC 2 driver Ole Christian Veiby delivered another shock in third, a further tenth behind.
Big crowds basked in evening sunshine to watch the opening of the four-day, ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
The roads didn’t suit the new-generation World Rally Cars and many drivers complained of understeer as they attacked the tricky turns.
“It was terrible, never had that bad a super special,” Tänak said.
“The stage is so tight, it’s not for these cars with so much understeer. I guess it must be the same for everybody, but I’m definitely looking forward to tomorrow.”
Dani Sordo was fourth in a Hyundai i20, ahead of yet another driver from the WRC 2 support category, Jan Kopecký. Sébastien Ogiercompleted the top six in his Ford Fiesta.
Andreas Mikkelsen’s i20 and Craig Breen’s Citroën C3 tied in seventh, but Mikkelsen was far from happy.
“At the start we were told to wait so we stopped the car. Then they gave us our time card and told us to start and we had seven seconds to switch on the car. We didn’t start in launch mode even,” the Norwegian explained.
Championship leader Thierry Neuville was a risk-free 13th in his Hyundai, 2.0sec off the pace, and Jari-Matti Latvala was 15th after clipping a bale and stalling his Yaris’ engine.
Mads Østberg complained of a lack of power in his C3 en route to 21st, while Jourdan Serderidis knocked a tyre off the rim after clipping a kerb in his Fiesta.
Outright standings after day one (Thursday):
1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2m11.2s
2 Kalle Rovanpera/Jonne Halttunen (Skoda Fabia R5) +0.1s
3 Ole Christian Veiby/Stig Rune Skjaermoen (Skoda Fabia R5) +0.2s
4 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +0.4s
5 Jan Kopecky/Pavel Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) +0.6s
6 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +0.9s
7 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1.0s
8 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +1.1s
9 Umberto Scandola/Andrea Gaspari (Skoda Fabia R5) +1.3s
10 Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Szczepaniak (Ford Fiesta R5) +1.4s