Citroen's Sebastien Ogier has finished day two in Germany in the lead, inheriting the position in the final test after team-mate Sebastien Loeb lost time with a front-left puncture.
Ogier had trailed Loeb since the seven-time WRC champion took the lead on Friday in SS3 and while the younger Frenchman had been frustrated by team orders today instructing them to hold position, the second-run through Panzerplatte turned the event on its head. Indeed going into SS14, Ogier trailed Loeb by 3.8 seconds, but he then found himself bumped up to P1 after his team-mate's misfortune. Ogier will now head into the overnight service with a 1 minute 11.3 second cushion.
“I don't want to celebrate,” Ogier told the official WRC site at the end of SS14. “I can't be happy when my team-mate has a problem. But it is a good thing there is justice in the sport."
Loeb, who of course has won in Germany every single year since the event joined the championship back in 2002 and who has been unbeaten on all-asphalt since 2004 (when Markko Martin took back-to-back wins in Corsica and Spain), was at a loss to explain why the tyre deflated.
“I don't know what happened. There were some rocks on a straight. I was taking it easy,” said Loeb.
Meanwhile Dani Sordo is on course for the final podium place on only the third WRC event for the new MINI WRT team - and its first run on asphalt with the John Cooper Works WRC car. The Spaniard gained P3 this morning when Mikko Hirvonen picked up a puncture and lost more than a minute in SS10. He has maintained the gap this afternoon too, losing a few seconds in SS11, SS12 and SS13, before a fantastic second fastest effort in SS14 allowed him to strike back. The former Citroen works star will now take a 33.1 second cushion into the final day.
“I have pushed really hard,” said Sordo. “This time [in SS14] is important for the final leg. I want to keep on pushing and avoid mistakes.”
Hirvonen though hasn't given up on regaining his podium slot: "The first three afternoon stages were good, but the final one wasn't," said the Ford Abu Dhabi WRT man. "There were many junctions and I drove too hard. I wasn't patient enough. I also made a couple of small mistakes, but nothing that cost serious time. I stiffened the suspension again at the mid-leg service and had a good feeling this afternoon. Tomorrow's stages suit me, and I'll try really hard to regain third."
Further back Kris Meeke is also doing well in the other MINI, although he had a scare in Panzerplatte 2 and damaged the rear. He is now almost 50 seconds adrift of P4 and just 9.1 seconds up on Petter Solberg's privately entered DS3 WRC car in P6.
F1 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen is next up and seventh, although he has had a mixed day and lost 10-15 seconds in SS11 with a stall and a spin: “This stage [SS14] was quite okay, but otherwise, it is not going well for me here,” said the ex-Ferrari and McLaren man. “Sometimes I reckon that staying at home would have been better!”