Saturday, September 10, 2016

Rallye Deutschland (WRC): Sébastien Ogier's 35th WRC victory

Exactly 189 days since his last success in Sweden, Sébastien Ogier (VW/Michelin) returned to the top step of a WRC podium after collecting his second straight victory in Germany.  Hyundai/Michelin's Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville were second the third, while Michelin scored a one-two finish in WRC2 with Skoda factory drivers Lappi and Kopecky.

The ADAC Rallye Deutschland is sometimes referred to as the summer’s Rallye Monte-Carlo due to the complex tyre choices it frequently necessitates, and this year was no exception.

Tyre calls notably played a decisive role on Saturday when crews visited the narrow stages of Germany’s Saarland region and the notorious asphalt/concrete tracks of the Baumholder army ranges. Michelin’s crews ran every imaginable permutation of the H5 (hard) and S5 (soft) versions of the Pilot Sport in the changeable weather conditions.

Ogier (VW/Michelin) laid the foundations for his second Rallye Deutschland triumph on the Panzerplatte stages for which he chose a combination of S5s and H5s for the first visit, then S5s all-round for the afternoon’s repeat. The three-time world champion won both attempts at Panzerplatte Lange (40.80km) to conclude Day 2 with a safety margin of 33.4 seconds.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia went on to pocket their 35th world class victory and their third of the year to extend their lead at the top of the provisional points table. Meanwhile, the Volkswagen Polo R WRC (39 victories) has become the most successful car on Michelin rubber in the history of the FIA WRC.

The weekend produced a thrilling fight for second, third and fourth places. Early pace-setter Andreas Mikkelsen (VW/Michelin), Dani Sordo (Hyundai/Michelin) and Thierry Neuville (Hyundai/Michelin) were covered by just four seconds ahead of Sunday’s 60 kilometres of competitive action. The fastest time on SS15 promoted Sordo to second spot, while Neuville won SS16.

SS17 was cancelled, so the outcome was settled on the Power Stage (14.84km). Neuville was quickest again but his attempt to pass his Spanish team-mate failed by one-tenth of a second. Mikkelsen ended up fourth overall.

Ott Tanak’s late retirement on Saturday (Ford, alternator) handed fifth place to Hayden Paddon (Hyundai/Michelin) who was delayed by several errors early on. Mads Ostberg (Ford/Michelin) was sixth, ahead of WRC2 winner Esapekka Lappi who headed a one-two finish for Skoda Motorsport and Michelin. Jan Kopecky was second in the class, ahead of local hero Armin Kremer (Skoda) who was taking part in the event for the 16th time.

The first ‘clear’ asphalt round of the year claimed a number of victims. Jari-Matti Latvala (VW/Michelin, gearbox) and Eric Camilli (Ford/Michelin, accident) both lost big chunks of time, while Stéphane Lefebvre (Citroën/Michelin) had a big crash. Everyone at Michelin Motorsport wishes the Frenchman and his co-driver Gabin a speedy recovery.

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