Sebastien Ogier has started the 2011 ADAC Rallye Deutschland as he means to go on by setting the fastest time in shakedown, ahead of Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen.
The Frenchman, who is considered the biggest threat to Loeb's attempts to win a ninth consecutive Rallye Deutschland, began his weekend well in the Citroen DS3, emerging just over a second faster than his record-breaking team-mate.
Fresh from the confirmation that he will race on for another two seasons, Loeb had to share second fastest with key title rival Mikko Hirvonen, the Ford driver keen to turn around a patchy record in Germany.
Just four points behind Hirvonen in the battle for second in the standings, Ogier is refusing to get carried away by his early form.
“The feeling was very good with the car but this result means nothing because it's only the shakedown - the real rally starts tomorrow.”
Hirvonen's team-mate Jari-Mati Latvala was fourth fastest, ahead of the PSWRT Citroen of Petter Solberg, the former champion in turn just a tenth up on his brother Henning driving the M-Sport Stobart Ford.
Mads Ostberg was seventh fastest in the second of the Stobart Fords, ahead of top MINI driver Kris Meeke in eighth – the Briton setting a good time despite cutting his left-side tyres.
“It wakes you up a bit when that happens,” he said. “You have to remember it's a performance tyre and not completely puncture proof. But the set-up of the car was good and I'm comfortable with the car.”
Kimi Raikkonen and Dani Sordo rounded out the top ten, while local driver Christian Riedemann suffered a setback when he crashed his Volkswagen Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000.
Rally Deutschland Shakedown – Top ten:
1. Sebastien Ogier
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 03mins 36.3secs
2. Sebastien Loeb
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 03mins 37.7secs
=. Mikko Hirvonen
Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC 03mins 37.7secs
4. Jari-Matti Latvala
Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC 03mins 37.9secs
5. Petter Solberg
PSWRT Citroen DS3 WRC 03mins 38.6secs
6. Henning Solberg
M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC 03mins 38.7secs
7. Mads Ostberg
M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC 03mins 39.0secs
8. Kris Meeke
MINI WRT John Cooper Works 03mins 39.1secs
9. Kimi Raikkonen
ICE1 Racing Citroen DS3 WRC 03mins 39.3secs
10. Dani Sordo
MINI WRT John Cooper Works 03mins 40.1secs