Rallye Deutschland has kicked off in a positive fashion for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team. Following this morning’s shakedown, where the Toyota Yaris WRC set the first and second fastest times, the rally began with a super special stage in St Wendel, where Ott Tänak set the best time to claim the early lead.
Shakedown was held over a 5.52-kilometre stage near the service park at Bostalsee, with the drivers undertaking multiple runs as they made final adjustments to their cars before the start. Tänak set the quickest time in shakedown with Jari-Matti Latvala second fastest, while Esapekka Lappi was eighth, just 1.8 seconds off the pace. The first stage of the rally was just two kilometres in length around a tight and twisty course. Tänak won the stage by 0.1s, with Lappi and Latvala both within 2.6s of his time.
Kaj Lindström (Sporting Director)
“It is good to get the rally underway with the fastest time and no big issues. Earlier, we had a promising shakedown with the first and second best times. Of course, the results in shakedown never count for anything at the end of rally, but it is good to see that car is performing OK and that the drivers are all happy. As always on this rally, we will be watching the weather particularly closely. Even at the start of this week, the forecasts showed no rain, but now it looks like there is a risk of rain tomorrow, which could make the vineyard stages very tricky for everybody.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“In shakedown, the first aim was to get the feeling with the driving for asphalt. Initially, it felt quite different after so many gravel rallies in a row. Doing four runs on the shakedown helped me with that. I was also working with the setup as there were a couple of things I wanted to clarify after the tests, and at the end of shakedown I was happy with the car. I made a small mistake in the super special stage and stalled, but it isn’t the end of the world. Tomorrow we may be looking at the weather a lot as this is a rally that can sometimes be won or lost on the tyre choice.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“It was nice to be immediately on the pace today. This morning, it was very important to have a decent shakedown and to get the feeling for driving on asphalt again, as our test in preparation for this event was quite a few weeks ago now. We made a couple of adjustments to the car, but overall the balance felt nice. I was surprised to be fastest in stage one because it didn’t feel good on what was a really a tight stage for these cars, but it looked like it was the same for everybody and now I’m looking forward to tomorrow. We know that there will be a big battle for the top positions this weekend. We will definitely give our best.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“Shakedown was a good chance to get the feeling for driving back after my crash in Finland. The stage was quite smooth and the car worked really well. The first stage really didn’t feel so good, but it was totally different to the rest of the rally, so we shouldn’t worry about this. I want to have a good result at the end of this weekend. My minimum target is a podium, and I will try to be in the fight for the victory too as I feel confident on asphalt and with the car.”
End of 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
12 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1.5s
15 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2.6s
(Results as of 20:30 on Thursday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Friday’s action is focused on the vineyards above the Mosel river, close to the city of Trier. The drivers will take narrow and twisting roads with numerous hairpin bends, while trying to avoid a costly trip through the vines themselves. The Stein und Wein and Mittelmosel stages are both run twice, as is a two-lap circuit through the fields at Wadern-Weiskirchen on the way back to service.
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