At the end of six stages and 101.42 competitive kilometres on Friday, Ott Tänak leads Rallye Deutschland for Toyota. The Estonian maintained the small advantage that he gained in the morning to end the day 2.8 seconds ahead of Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville.
The three speed tests run in the afternoon were an exact repeat of the morning loop, however with conditions that were more equal for all WRC contenders, as none of the crews benefitted from cleaner roads. The weather remained dry and hot – an unusual scene for Rally Deutschland, which often features cooler temperatures and sometimes even rain.
Neuville slightly reduced Tanäk’s lead on the first stage of the afternoon, but the Yaris WRC driver bounced back on the second and final tests, setting two more fastest times, with the Belgian confessing that he was on the limit and couldn’t take any more risks.
Reigning champion Sébastien Ogier had worked with his team to improve the issues that affected his Citroën on this morning’s loop during the midday service, but the Frenchman threw away some of the benefit after he hit a hay bale on the middle stage of the afternoon and then made a mistake on the final stage too, running wide onto the grass. Nonetheless, he retained third, just three seconds ahead of Toyota’s Kris Meeke.
The Northern Irishman headed his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala. Both Toyotas were able to keep Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen at bay in sixth, who adapted his driving style during the day to suit the German roads.
Citroën’s Esapekka Lappi was a disappointed seventh, while M-Sport driver Gus Greensmith ended up Friday in eighth overall, on his first asphalt outing in the Ford Fiesta WRC. Also making his asphalt WRC debut was Toyota protégé Takamoto Katsuta , who maintained his cautious approach to the rally, just outside the top 10.
Finland’s rising rally star Kalle Rovanperä continued to lead the FIA WRC 2 Pro class for Škoda in 10th overall, after another strong day in his Fabia R5 Evo. On his comeback to WRC competition, former Citroën factory driver Stéphane Lefebvre maintained the FIA WRC 2 lead that he has earned in the morning in a privateer Volkswagen Polo R5.
There was bitter disappointment for Dani Sordo, who was challenging for a podium place until he experienced a gearbox issue, with his Hyundai getting stuck in first gear on the final stage. The Spaniard dropped down from fourth to ninth.
Tomorrow is the longest day of the rally, with eight stages totalling 157.92 competitive kilometres. These include the notorious ‘Panzerplatte’ tests run on the unforgiving concrete roads of the Baumholder military area.
2019 Rallye Deutschland – Unofficial results after Section 3:
|1. Ott Tänak (EST) / Martin Järveoja (EST)||Toyota Yaris WRC||59min 12.4sec|
|2. Thierry Neuville (BEL) / Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL)||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||59min 15.2sec|
|3. Sébastien Ogier (FRA) / Julien Ingrassia (FRA)||Citroën C3 WRC||59min 34.5sec|
|4. Kris Meeke (GBR) / Sebastian Marshall (GBR)||Toyota Yaris WRC||59min 38.0sec|
|5. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) / Mikka Anttila||Toyota Yaris WRC||59min 40.2sec|
|6. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) / Anders Jaeger-Amland (NOR)||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||59min 52.4sec|
|7. Esapekka Lappi (FIN) / Janne Ferm (FIN)||Citroën C3 WRC||1hr 00min 5.3sec|
|8. Gus Greensmith (GBR) / Elliott Edmondson (GBR)||Ford Fiesta WRC||1hr 00min 17.9sec|
|9. Dani Sordo (SPA) / Carlos Del Barrio (SPA)||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||1hr 00min 27.5sec|
|10. Kalle Rovanperä (FIN) / Jonne Halttunen (FIN)||Škoda Fabia R5 Evo||1hr 02min 10.9sec|