Sebastien Loeb continues to lead Rallye Deutschland following the daunting Panzerplatte test, but Petter Solberg, Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville all hit trouble on the 46.54 km stage.
Loeb had already doubled his overnight lead this morning, when his rivals lost out in the rain-hit SS7. However the Baumholder military land took a real toll, with Solberg, Seb's biggest threat, forced out around 30 kilometres in when he hit a rock.
Neuville also had problems in that test, and went off the road in his Citroen DS3 WRC car. The Belgian had been running fourth, right behind Sordo. Sordo was another in the 'wars', and he had to stop a change a puncture, dropping him from second overall to sixth. After all that drama, Jari-Matti Latvala finds himself promoted to second, alas almost 1.5 minutes off Loeb.
“I am really happy. We couldn't expect better than to have a one and a half minute lead. It is going very well and the feeling with the car is good. The tyre choice and road conditions were difficult this morning but we are still here and we have increased our lead. It is a perfect day so far,” Loeb remarked.
“Moving from fifth to second feels good, but I'm disappointed for Petter,” Latvala added. “Panzerplatte was tough and required great concentration. My split times were fastest for virtually all the stage but my tyres started to move around towards the end and I lost a handful of seconds. I need to measure my pace now, because I'm too far from the lead to challenge, but I'm almost 40sec ahead of fourth.”
Mikko Hirvonen meanwhile is now on course for the final spot on the podium, 35.3 seconds further back and 42.9 seconds up on Mads Ostberg in P2: “I can't believe it!” said Hirvonen. “The conditions on SS7 were awful, but things went better on the next two stages.”
Ott Tanak lies fifth, ahead of Sordo and Chris Atkinson, who is running for the WRC MINI Team Portugal outfit.
Behind, Solberg and Neuville are classified in eighth and ninth – assuming they can continue under the Rally 2 regulations. Both though will lose more time this afternoon for missing the repeat loop. That looks set to promote Sebastien Ogier from tenth to eighth, while Peter van Merksteijn Jr and Andreas Mikkelsen can also be expected to move up into the points.
In the support categories there is no change, with Michal Kosciuszko and Elfyn Evans still leading the PWRC and WRC Academy respectively.
The action now continues this afternoon with a repeat-run through this morning's three stages. SS10, Stein & Wein 2, is due to start at 14.43 hours local time [13.43 hours UK time].
Rallye Deutschland: Overall standings after Stage 9 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Loeb
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 2hours 11mins 08.6secs
2. Jari-Matti Latvala
Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 29.7secs
3. Mikko Hirvonen
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +02mins 05.0secs
4. Mads Ostberg
Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC +02mins 47.9secs
5. Ott Tanak
M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +02mins 48.7secs
6. Dani Sordo
Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Coopers Works WRC +03mins 57.0secs
7. Chris Atkinson
WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +05mins 27.9secs
8. Petter Solberg
Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +05mins 41.6secs
9. Thierry Neuville
Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC +06mins 26.6secs
10. Sebastien Ogier
VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +06mins 37.3secs
11. Peter van Merksteijn Jr
van Merksteijn Motorsport Citroen DS3 WRC +07mins 05.6secs
12. Andreas Mikkelsen
VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +08mins 12.3secs
13. Nasser Al-Attiyah
Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC +08mins 33.0secs
# assumes will be able to re-start under Rally 2 regulations
PWRC standings after Stage 9 - Top 3:
1. Michal Kosciuszko
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 2hours 26mins 58.4secs
2. Benito Guerra
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +02mins 22.3secs
3. Subhan Aksa
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +04mins 23.6secs
WRC Academy standings after Stage 9 – Top 3:
1. Elfyn Evans
Ford Fiesta R2 2hours 30mins 25.3secs
2. Jose Suarez
Ford Fiesta R2 +01mins 07.1secs
3. Brendan Reeves
Ford Fiesta R2 +01mins 28.7secs
SS1. Evgeny Novikov
M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Went off
SS2. Paulo Nobre
WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC Stopped in stage
SS3. Martin Prokop
Czech Ford National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC Car caught fire
SS9. Petter Solberg
Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Hit a rock
SS9. Thierry Neuville
Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC Went off the road
* denotes re-started under Rally 2
all times unofficial