M-Sport’s Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja powered their Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC to the lead of ADAC Rallye Deutschland today – giving Järveoja an additional reason to celebrate on his 30th birthday!
The German fixture never fails to deliver excitement, and that was certainly the case today with the changeable forecast delivering some tricky conditions and contradicting tyre choices.
Despite the challenges, M-Sport made the most of the difficult circumstances and all three Fiesta WRCs are inside the overall top-five – a trend the team will be hoping to continue as the event enters the weekend.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s been a difficult day, with some very challenging conditions, so it’s great to see us get off to such a positive start.
“Ott has been very impressive today. He’s had the confidence and the speed through all of the conditions and made all the right choices with the tyres. There’s a long way to go, but I see no reason why he and Martin can’t continue this strong performance into tomorrow.
“It was a shame that Sébastien lost some time with a spin on the final stage, but he’s still in the fight. He didn’t have the optimum tyre choice this afternoon, but you can never discount him.
“Elfyn too struggled for grip in the afternoon, but he has driven cleanly and avoided any mistakes to ensure that we have all three cars in the top-five at the end of the day.”
TÄNAK AND JÄRVEOJA
Ott Tänak is known for his inspired performances on fast gravel, but he and co-driver Martin Järveoja proved that they can be just as formidable on the Tarmac of Rallye Deutschland today.
Whatever the conditions, the Estonians were on the pace. Never out of the top-five on individual stage times, Tänak set three fastest stage times on both dry and wet asphalt to take command at the head of the time sheets.
With eight stages down, and just a 5.7 second advantage, there remains all to play for but the Estonians have firmly established themselves as strong contenders this weekend.
SS1: 2nd (+0.3)
SS2: 5th (+3.7) SS3: 1st
SS4: 5th (+9.0)
SS5: 3rd (+2.8)
SS6: 1st SS7: 1st
SS8: 3rd (+0.8)
Ott Tänak (1st) said:
“It’s been a tricky day – the second loop especially was really extreme – and the conditions were really unpredictable. Once we were really lucky. On a hairpin I totally lost sight of the road and dropped down the bank. It was nothing special – no wrong speed or anything like that – but it just proves that sometimes you have to have a little bit of luck as well.
“This afternoon, everyone said that I was really brave to take this tyre choice [three full wet tyres] but in the end I was confident in myself and in my decision and it turned out to be the right call. The tyres worked really well and we are here in first place at the end of the day.
“There’s still a long way to go and as we’ve seen in the past anything can happen in Baumholder. For sure it will still be a bit damp in the morning, but hopefully not as extreme as it was today. We had a really good test there last week, and a really good feeling with the car, so I see no reason why we can’t be as fast as we were today.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia hold fourth place after the opening day of ADAC Rallye Deutschland.
A spin on the opening stage of the morning (SS2) cost the Frenchmen five seconds, but they quickly recovered – posting a top-three time on the following six speed tests and climbing into podium position.
With one stage to go, Ogier had established an 18.7 second advantage over his main championship rival, but another spin saw his hard work undone – the four-time world champion dropping 20 seconds and falling 2.4 seconds adrift of Neuville.
Despite the dramas, Ogier is still very much in the fight and will be one to watch as the event ventures to Panzerplatte tomorrow.
SS1: =4th (+1.9)
SS2: 7th (+5.0) SS3: 2nd (+2.3)
SS4: 3rd (+7.8)
SS5: 2nd (+2.8)
SS6: 3rd (+5.1) SS7: 3rd (+3.3)
SS8: 14th (+21.5)
Sébastien Ogier (4th) said:
“The day didn’t finish so well for us. First of all, we made the wrong tyre choice but at least we had the same as Thierry and we were managing it pretty well. But then, I spun in the mud on the last stage and lost more than 20 seconds that meant all the hard work was for nothing.
“The wet tyre looks like a good choice for the afternoon which was a bit surprising. We don't have much experience with them, so it was a bit of a gamble to go out on them because we’ve never really tried them. But now we've seen that the compound is working well.
“I'm looking forward to tomorrow and now the gap to Thierry is really small. The rally is still long and the main part of it is coming tomorrow which will for sure be a better day for us.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt got their Rallye Deutschland off to a solid start today – holding fourth place at the midday service just 14.8 seconds adrift of the lead. But as the heavens opened, the Welshman struggled with inconsistent grip levels and fell to fifth place.
Despite the dampener, Evans’ resilient performance has ensured that all three Ford Fiesta WRC finished the opening day of competition inside the overall top-five.
SS1: 7th (+2.4)
SS2: 9th (+5.3) SS3: 4th (+4.8)
SS4: 4th (+8.9)
SS5: 7th (+5.1)
SS6: 8th (+17.8) SS7: 8th (+18.9)
SS8: 5th (+5.5)
Elfyn Evans (5th) said:
“It was a pretty solid morning, but I think we were in the same boat as a lot of people this afternoon and it just slipped away a little bit. It’s been exceptionally difficult out there with a lot of rain and the grip levels have been very low. We’ve kept out of trouble and avoided mistakes, but it’s not been easy. We might be faced with some more difficult conditions tomorrow, but they’ll be different from today so let’s see what happens.”
1. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1:07:23.0
2. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ander Jaeger (Citroen C3 WRC) +5.7
3. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) +28.2
4. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +30.6
5. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +52.1
6. Juho Hänninen / Kaj Lindstrom (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:14.7
7. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +1:24.5
8. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:54.7
9. Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshall (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) +2:29.5
10. Jan Kopecky / Pavel Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) +3:36.2