Ott Tänak holds a 12.3-second lead for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team at the end of the first full day of Rallye Deutschland. Fresh from his recent win in Finland, Tänak was fastest on five of the six stages in the Toyota Yaris WRC, on what is the first asphalt event that the car has led since its debut at the start of last season.
Friday’s action took place mostly on the narrow and winding vineyard roads in the Mosel valley, seen as some of the most challenging of the championship. After narrowly conceding the lead on the morning’s first stage, Tänak was then unbeaten for the remainder of the day. Ahead by 7.2s at mid-day service, he then claimed a clean-sweep of fastest times in the afternoon to gradually increase his advantage further.
Team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi have been part of a close four-way battle for fourth throughout the day. Latvala holds fifth position overnight, only one second away from fourth, while Lappi is seventh and just 0.1s adrift of sixth.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“It is absolutely brilliant to be in this position, with six fastest stage times out of seven so far. Ott seems to have absolute confidence with the car and is able to make it look very easy, even though it is not. This great performance on asphalt is the product of all the hard work that the whole team has done since the beginning of last season. I think that Jari-Matti and Esapekka also have a good feeling with the car. This can be a difficult rally to find the confidence with all the different conditions, but they are in good positions going into tomorrow. Anything can happen on Panzerplatte: it is pretty rough in places but it is very fast and you have to push flat-out.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“This morning I lacked a little bit of confidence in the conditions: with my road position there was more dirt coming on the road than I was used to here before. In service we made some changes with the front differential and the afternoon was definitely better for me. I was very happy with what we did on the second run over Mittelmosel in particular. It’s going to be a good fight tomorrow. For me, tomorrow’s stages are the best ones on this rally. It’s wider and you can use racing lines more, and that’s what I like. Also, the roads will be cleaner than today and that should suit me better.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“I think we have had close to a perfect day today. The driving was clean and the car was working really well. Everything was new for me, driving this car on these very specific stages, but I could adapt quickly, the rhythm was there from the first stage and I was able to push hard all day. This afternoon it was more difficult because it rained during lunchtime and every corner had a different level of grip, but we had a clean run with no mistakes. Tomorrow is a different day with more demanding stages on Baumholder, but the mindset is still the same. There is a long way to go and we just need to keep focused and keep concentrated.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“I was quite pleased with the morning loop. The conditions were quite nice and the car worked really well. The afternoon was then quite tough. The vineyard roads got really dirty in some corners and I struggled a lot in these places. The car feels fine, it’s just a lack of confidence on my side because I don’t want to make a mistake and I am backing off too much. Still, tomorrow is a long day and we have a good road position, and we are only five seconds away from fourth place.”
End of day two (Friday):
1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 59m22.6s
2 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +12.3s
3 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +27.4s
4 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +37.8s
5 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +38.8s
6 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +42.7s
7 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +42.8s
8 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +58.0s
9 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +59.0s
10 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m21.4s
(Results as of 19:00 on Friday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
On Saturday, the drivers face the notorious Baumholder military training area, where there are frequent surface changes and large ‘Hinkelstein’ kerbs to catch out the unwary. Panzerplatte is the longest stage of the rally at 38.57 kilometres, and paired with a shorter ‘arena’ stage nearby. Two tests in the Saarland countryside complete a loop of four stages run either side of mid-day service at Bostalsee.
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