OTT Tänak led a crushing Toyota 1-2-3 at ADAC Rallye Deutschland on Sunday to take a huge stride toward his goal of a maiden FIA World Rally Championship.
(PHOTO: Toyota celebrates it stunning 1-2-3 result on ADAC Rallye Deutschland – Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool)
The Estonian survived a late scare to claim his fourth victory in five rounds this season and his third consecutive Rally Germany, leading Toyota to its first clean sweep of a podium since 1993 and the first in the WRC since this rally four years ago.
Watch TV highlights of ADAC Rallye Deutschland FREE on 10 BOLD and tenplay.com.au, Saturday 31 August, 3pm AEST (check guides for local times).
Brake problems on his Toyota Yaris in the penultimate stage forced Tänak to drive cautiously through the closing Wolf Power Stage, but he had enough in hand to head Kris Meeke by 20.8sec, with Jari-Matti Latvala a further 15.2sec behind.
With four rounds, remaining including the finale at Kennards Hire Rally Australia on 14-17 November, Tänak extended his championship lead to 33 points as rivals Sébastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville both lost time with punctures on rough tarmac roads in southern Germany.
Tickets for Kennards Hire Rally Australia, priced from $29 to $119, are available now from TICKETEK.COM. Highlights of the Coffs Coast event will include two nights of the harbourside Destination New South Wales Super Special Stage and a free concert by legendary rock band Dragon exclusively for 4-day ticket-holders.
The Toyota Gazoo Racing team closed to within eight points of leader Hyundai Shell Mobis in the manufacturers’ standings.
The four-day rally was fought out on bumpy vineyard tracks in the Mosel region, gruelling multi-surface tank training roads and smooth country lanes in the Saarland countryside.
Tänak gained control on Saturday afternoon after a thrilling duel with Neuville came to a premature end when the Belgian stopped to change a puncture on his Hyundai i20.
He admitted he had mixed feelings after being unable to attack for bonus points in the final stage.
“We started to have some issues in the previous stage so I couldn’t push. We only had one brake at the front. I’m not really happy about that, but we’re here and I am happy about that. The team has missed out on a 1-2-3 a few times so it is good to do that finally,” Tänak said.
Meeke and Latvala eased through the final leg among the Mosel grapes, content to hold their positions and guarantee a stellar result for the Japanese manufacturer.
Dani Sordo completed the stages in fourth, but the Spaniard sacrificed the place by leaving the final sevice late and incurring a penalty that allowed teammate Neuville to move up from fifth and collect more championship points.
Citroën’s Esapekka Lappi was headed for sixth, but adopted the same strategy as Sordo to enable team leader Sébastien Ogier to climb from eighth to seventh. Lappi dropped two places and Andreas Mikkelsen also profited as he inherited sixth.
Ogier and Lappi both struggled with major understeer during the rally and six-time world champion Ogier’s title defence now trails Tänak by 40 points and Neuville by seven.
The championship reverts to gravel next month for Rally Turkey, in Marmaris on 12-15 September.
FINAL RESULTS, ADAC Rallye Deutschland (WRC Rd 10 or 14):
1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3h15m29.8s
2 Kris Meeke/Seb Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +20.8s
3 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +36.0s
4 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +58.5s
5 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m16.6s
6 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger-Amland (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m46.2s
7 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +1m56.3s
8 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +2m02.2s
9 Gus Greensmith/Elliott Edmondson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +6m22.2s
10 Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt (Toyota Yaris WRC) +8m19.2s
WRC Drivers’ Standings (after Rd 10):
1 O. Tanak 205
2 T. Neuville 172
3 S. Ogier 165
4 K. Meeke 80
5 A. Mikkelsen 79
6 E. Evans 78
7 J-M Latvala 74
8 T. Suninen 70
9 D. Sordo 62
10 E. Lappi 62
WRC Manufacturers’ Standings (after Rd 10):
1 Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team 289
2 Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team 281
3 Citroën Total World Rally Team 216
4 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 168
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