The Yaris WRC drivers have completed the opening super special stage of Rallye Deutschland: a new test for this year around the streets of Saarbrucken. Jari-Matti Latvala leads the team’s charge in sixth, followed by Juho Hänninen in 12th and Esapekka Lappi in 13th: who set exactly the same time.
The super special stage consisted of just 2.05 asphalt kilometres on Thursday evening, immediately after the ceremonial start in Saarbrucken. All three Yaris WRC drivers got through it with no problems, saving themselves for the real action that starts tomorrow. Earlier the drivers each completed three runs over the short shakedown stage, which was held near the service park at Bostalsee.
Tom Fowler (Chief Engineer)
“Today has gone according to plan and as usual the hard work starts tomorrow. Germany is a particularly tough event to prepare for, as a little bit like Monte-Carlo the surface and grip is changing all the time, so it’s very difficult to anticipate that. The drivers were happy with their cars during the shakedown, but the stage quickly became very muddy, so the times don’t actually mean too much. Germany is also well-known for its unpredictable weather, and we can probably expect a bit of that over the weekend, but so far we are off to a solid start after the super special stage.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“The shakedown was held in very tricky conditions but the super special stage in Saarbrucken this evening went fine for us, and there were lots of spectators. It was far from easy though, as we saw with problems for other people, so it was important to get to the finish without any mistakes. We just concentrated on keeping our driving neat and tidy. Although we know Germany will be one of the toughest events this year, I’ve got some good memories from here in the past and I’d like to think that we could finish inside the top four.”
Juho Hänninen (Driver car 11)
“My feeling with the car was generally good, but the shakedown stage in the morning was difficult: there was so much mud that in some places where you couldn’t see the road. Still it’s possible that these could be the conditions on the rally, especially further down the road or during the second run through the stages, so it was good to experience this as well. The super special stage went OK but let’s see where we are after the first proper stages tomorrow.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 12)
“We start again here; I’ve already forgotten about winning in Finland. The shakedown was a real wake-up call: very slippery. But I have to learn about these conditions on asphalt too, so I did my runs and tried to take away as much experience as possible. This weekend is all about learning for me; I need more experience on asphalt with this car. I have to try to be clever and gain as much knowledge as I can. No problems for me on the super special stage, so the plan is to carry on like this.”
End of Day 1 (Thursday):
1 Jan Kopecky/Pavel Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) 2m05.9s
2 Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +0.3s
3 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC): +1.3s
4 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1.9s
5 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Citroen C3 WRC) +1.9s
6 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2.2s
7 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2.4s
8 Dani Sordo/Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2.5s
9 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2.7s
10 Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2.8s
12 Juho Hänninen/Kaj Lindström (Toyota Yaris WRC) +5.3s
13 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +5.3s
(Results as of 22:30 on Thursday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Frenchman Sebastien Loeb is the most successful driver in the history of Rallye Deutschland, having won the event nine times between 2002 and 2012. In doing so, he set two more records: the highest number of consecutive victories on a single world rally championship event (eight) and the highest number of overall victories on a single World Rally Championship event. Loeb, the most successful driver in the history of the sport, actually made his World Rally Car debut in a Toyota, finishing ninth overall on the 2000 Tour de Corse with a Corolla WRC.
Seven more stages are on the menu for the drivers tomorrow – and unusually, three of them are super special stages (although not the same stage as the drivers tackled this evening in Saarbrucken). The morning starts at 08:30 when the drivers leave service for two stages plus two runs over the Wadern Weiskkirchen super special stage, then they return to service at Bostalsee at 13:59.
This loop is repeated in the afternoon – but with just one run over the super special stage – before the drivers return to service at 19:30 followed by parc ferme, after 110.56 competitive kilometres.
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