Citroen's Sebastien Loeb has finished day two of Rallye Deutschland with a comfortable lead and he is now well placed to take the victory.
Loeb once again successfully made it through the daunting Panzerplatte test, but a number of his rivals weren't so fortunate, with Ott Tanak, Dani Sordo and Peter van Merksteijn Jr all sidelined.
Tanak had been running in a very promising fourth in his M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC, but an impact with a hickelstein, ended his run.
Sordo also had to stop after contact with a hickelstein his Prodrive MINI John Cooper Works WRC, while van Merksteijn Jr rolled his Citroen DS3 WRC and blocked the road, delaying a number of other drivers.
“We've had another great day!” Loeb said back in service in Trier. “On Baumholder, I was the fastest on both runs, but I didn't really push. It's not worth it: if you push too hard at the start, the tyres get worn very quickly and you have to ease off at the end. It's better to adopt an even pace which means you can stay clear of the worst of the trouble. At the same time, the guys who came after us made mistakes and so the gap widened. We just have to finish the job tomorrow, so everything's looking good.”
Jari-Matti Latvala meanwhile is on course for the second for Ford, albeit 1 minute 42.9 seconds adrift. The Finn had hoped to beat Loeb in SS12, but was again slower, 0.7 seconds back: “I liked both Panzerplatte stages. I enjoyed the fight for fastest time but I'm disappointed not to have been quickest on at least one of them. I missed out by 0.8sec in the first pass and 0.7sec in the second pass after more than 46km! Having dropped to fifth this morning, I'm happy to be in second. The car was fast enough to allow me to fight at the front, but I lacked consistency at times,” Latvala commented.
Mikko Hirvonen is on course for the final spot on the podium and he was happier with his form on the repeat loop: “Most of all, I'm pleased to have improved my driving on tarmac. I started to find the rhythm. I was a bit lucky, but you also need to be consistent if you want to get a good result. My aim will be to hold onto third position tomorrow.”
Behind, Tanak's error bumps Mads Ostberg up to fourth, while Chris Atkinson also benefits from the chaos to jump up to fifth. Atkinson was the last of the front runners to complete SS12 at speed, prior to van Merksteijn Jr's off.
A number of drivers were thus given notional times, with Sebastien Ogier, Andreas Mikkelsen and Nasser Al-Attiyah concluding the day in positions 6 through to 8, ahead of Mathieu Arzeno and Sepp Wiegand.
In the support categories, Michal Kosciuszko continues to lead the PWRC, while Elfyn Evans took the WRC Academy win.