Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier was quickest out the blocks to take the early lead on Rallye Deutschland this evening.

Ogier, who has an outside chance of clinching the 2013 WRC Drivers' title this weekend, completed the opening test, the 23.54 km Blankenheim stage, in 12 minutes 9.8 seconds - 4.6 seconds up on team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala.

The Frenchman was then quickest again in SS2, 1.1 seconds up Latvala and he now heads into the overnight service in Trier with a 5.7 second cushion.

Related Articles

"The Rally Germany has started perfectly for us," said Ogier. "First the great atmosphere in Cologne, with the famous cathedral in the background. And then also from a sporting point of view. My advantage on the first stage was that I was first out onto the route. That definitely won me a few seconds."

"However, the rally does not really get going until tomorrow, when we face six difficult stages in the vineyards," he warned. "It goes without saying that my goal is to still lead come the end of the rally."

"That was a good start for us - I am very happy with second place," added Latvala. "I hope I can match S?b's pace again tomorrow. My Polo feels very good, although I did have a lot of understeer on the opening stage - as, it would appear, did a lot of other people.

"It was a great idea to move the start of the rally to Cologne. It was an impressive backdrop with so many spectators in front of Cologne Cathedral. This allows us to stir up more interest and win more fans for our sport."

Behind the two VW Polos, Thierry Neuville led the chasing pack, seven seconds back in his Qatar Fiesta RS WRC, having been third quickest in both SS1 and SS2.

"I hope tomorrow will be a good day for us. We struggled a little with the set-up this evening and I lost some confidence in the first stage [SS1] as it was really slippery," said Neuville. "Even with just two cars in front of me there was a lot of mud in the corners and you can see from the times that the conditions were getting much trickier further down the field.

"Of course it is a shame to lose 12 seconds after just two stages, but this is the game. Our time was OK in the last stage [SS2] and I think our set-up will be better suited to the kinds of roads we will see tomorrow."

Citroen duo Dani Sordo and Mikko Hirvonen round out the top five in their DS3 WRC cars, split by 4.3 seconds.

"I feel good in the car and I'm pleased with my driving, but the others are going very quickly," said Sordo. "I think it'll be different tomorrow, the roads won't get so dirty with the runs and I hope to get closer to the leaders."

"The second stage was much better for me than the first," Hirvonen chipped in. "I think I was too cautious in the quick and muddy sections. I'll have to be a bit bolder to up my pace. The car handled very well and I also think I can do better tomorrow." columnist Mads Ostberg is next up and sixth, and he conceded he wasn't confident enough with his Qatar M-Sport WRT-run Fiesta RS WRC: "We had some difficulties this evening, but the good thing is that we know where we struggled and where we can improve. We changed the set-up of the car dramatically after the first stage [SS1] - making it a lot harder - but it took a while to get used to the handling through the second [SS2]," he explained.

"The second half of the last stage [SS2] felt a lot better and I think the speed improved too. We need to look at these details more closely to fully understand what was happening, but the splits matched my feeling so I think we will be OK. I think what we learnt today will help us tomorrow. It's all about understanding simple things like confidence under braking and how to fully attack the corners - that can help us on tomorrow's stages too."

Nasser Al-Attiyah, Martin Prokop and Michal Kosciuszko hold positions 7 through to 9, with former F1 winner, Robert Kubica tenth and in the lead in the WRC2 class.

"I wasn't expecting conditions to be like this, which are very different to what we had in testing and in the shakedown," Kubica remarked. "I struggled to get the tyres up to temperature and as a result, the car tended to slide around."

In the other support categories, Sebastien Chardonnet heads WRC3, while Jose Antonio Suarez is the JWRC pace setter.

Evgeny Novikov was the big casualty this evening, after he went off the road just 1.5 km into SS1. His car was undamaged, but he was unable to re-join the stage and thus could not continue. He will re-start under the Rally 2 regulations on Friday.

Rallye Deutschland now continues tomorrow, with three stages on the bill, all to be run twice. SS3, Mittelmosel 1, is due to start at 10.43 hours local time [09.43 hours UK time].

Rallye Deutschland: Overall standings after Stage 2 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 19m 33.2s M
2. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 05.7s M
3. Thierry Neuville Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 12.7s M
4. Dani Sordo Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +00m 20.5s M
5. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +00m 25.7s M
6. Mads Ostberg Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 30.6s M
7. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 41.4s M
8. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 45.6s M
9. Michal Kosciuszko Lotos Team WRC Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 51.0s M
10. Robert Kubica Citroen DS3 RRC +00m 59.8s WRC2


11. Elfyn Evans Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta R5 +01m 14.7s WRC2
12. Sepp Wiegand Skoda Fabia S2000 +01m 23.0s WRC2
13. Armin Kremer Ford Fiesta RRC +01m 39.6s WRC2
14. Khalid Al-Qassimi Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +01m 41.3s M

WRC2 standings after Stage 2 (Top 3):

1. Robert Kubica Citroen DS3 RRC 20m 33.0s WRC2
2. Elfyn Evans Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta R5 +00m 14.9s WRC2
3. Sepp Wiegand Skoda Fabia S2000 +00m 23.2s WRC2

WRC3 standings after Stage 2 (Top 3):

1. Sebastien Chardonnet Citroen DS3 R3T 21m 31.8s WRC3
1. Christian Riedemann Citroen DS3 R3T +00m 03.3s WRC3
3. Quentin Gilbert Citroen DS3 R3T +00m 05.5s WRC3

JWRC standings after Stage 2 (Top 3)

1. Jose Antonio Suarez Ford Fiesta R2 22m 43.5s JWRC
2. Pontus Tidemand Ford Fiesta R2 +00m 10.7s JWRC
3. Yeray Lemes Ford Fiesta R2 +00m 12.7s JWRC

Notable retirements:

DNS. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC Did not start - co-driver injury M

SS1. Evgeny Novikov Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Went off the road M
SS1/2. Per-Gunnar Andersson Ford Fiesta RS WRC Stopped

*denotes due to re-start under the Rally 2 regulations
M denotes Manufacturer entry

all times unofficial