Ott Tänak leads Rallye Deutschland by 2.8 seconds following the first full day of competition on German asphalt. All three TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team cars are inside the top five overall, with Kris Meeke and Jari-Matti Latvala both involved in a close battle for third position.
Tänak began the day in the rally lead after setting the pace in Thursday night’s first stage, and only briefly let go of first place in this morning’s opener, before claiming it straight back in SS3. In all, the Estonian driver won four of the day’s six stages as he bids to win the demanding German asphalt event for a third consecutive year.
Meeke and Latvala both produced consistent performances in the morning and were able to increase their pace in the afternoon’s vineyard stages to close up on third overall. They ended the day fourth and fifth respectively, both within six seconds of the final podium position.
In a seperately-entered Yaris WRC, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge Program driver Takamoto Katsuta successfully completed his first full day at the sport’s highest level, avoiding the many potential pitfalls on unfamiliar roads to occupy 11th place overall.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“It is still very early in the rally, but it has been a good start for us. Ott has been driving really well today but it is still very close as everybody has been pushing hard. When the gaps are this close there is no room for errors, but Ott always seems to be well in control. It is also good for us to have Kris and Jari-Matti close to the podium: They seem to be driving quite relaxed and with confidence. Tomorrow is a very long day and we all know that the Baumholder stages are especially challenging. From the recce it sounds like there is more loose gravel on top of the surface than before on those stages, which will make it extra tricky.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“It has been a good day. Everything is very tight, just as we expected: Everyone was pushing hard and it’s hard to make big differences. But it’s nice to be in this kind of fight. This morning my rhythm was not perfect from the first corner, but I managed to improve with every kilometre and the driving was getting more clean and tidy. This afternoon I think we had a very clean loop: No crazy risks but still quite close to the limit and pushing quite hard. Tomorrow will be a tough day but we need to continue the same way as we were today and still give a big push.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“Generally, I’m happy with my day. This morning the feeling was good but I needed to work more on the braking, as I was maybe braking too late sometimes and then struggling to get a good exit. The afternoon was good, we improved the car and it was turning better. I was really happy with the performance on the second time through the Mittelmosel stage. The confidence was growing and then on the last stage I was pushing too much. But I’m looking forward to tomorrow, we have some nice stages and Panzerplatte should be interesting in the opposite direction to the last 10 years.”
Kris Meeke (Driver car 5)
“I’ve enjoyed my day. I’m happy to be three seconds from a podium position tonight. I had a decent morning, just a little overshoot here and there, and this afternoon was good in the vineyard stages. Unfortunately, on the last stage of the loop I seemed to be missing something and we lost a lot of time on both runs. There’s a long way to go, today was just the starter. Tomorrow will be a big day, especially the afternoon and Panzerplatte, as it looked exceptionally rough on the recce. We just need to keep driving to our rhythm and see how it goes.”
End of day two (Friday):
1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 59m12.4s
2 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2.8s
3 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +22.1s
4 Kris Meeke/Seb Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +25.6s
5 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +27.8s
6 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger-Amland (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +40.0s
7 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +52.9s
8 Gus Greensmith/Elliott Edmondson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m05.5s
9 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m15.1s
10 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Škoda Fabia R5) +2m58.5s
(Results as of 20:00 on Friday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
The longest day of the rally, with 157.92 competitive kilometres, is split into two distinct parts. In the morning, the crews twice tackle a pair of stages on Saarland country roads, before mid-day service. In the afternoon they will take on two tests in the Baumholder military area, repeating them in the evening following an additional 15-minute service.
Key stage: Panzerplatte (SS13 & SS15, 41.17 kilometres)
Martin Järveoja (Co-driver car 8): “It’s the longest stage of the rally and the most challenging. This year we’re running it in reverse compared to the last few years. There are a lot of different surfaces, some smooth bits and some that are very rough, and a lot of rhythm changes.”
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