Jari-Matti Latvala heads the Rallye Deutschland leaderboard following the opening loop this morning, but Thierry Neuville is only 2.4 seconds back, after setting the pace in all three stages.

Latvala inherited P1 in SS3, the first test of the day, when his Volkswagen team-mate, Sebastien Ogier went off the road and damaged the suspension on his Polo R WRC. The Frenchman lost over 2.5 minutes as a result and he was then forced to retire from the leg in the subsequent test.

Latvala initially had a 5.8 second cushion after Mittelmosel 1, but with Neuville on a charge - despite almost running into the stationary Ogier in SS4! - the Finn saw his advantage trimmed back, setting up things up for a good battle this afternoon, following the mid-day halt.

"It was not such an easy start and I'm feeling a little bit of pressure now," Latvala told the official WRC site. "The first stage today was dry for the first kilometre but then, when we went into the forests, the road got damper and was quite slippery.

"My driving has been alright, although I could be more consistent. When it's clean and the grip is good I'm doing okay, but in some corners where it's very dirty and slippery I didn't have the best confidence. The car is also understeering, and if I could get rid of that it would boost my confidence."

"It's been a good morning and I think we made the right tyre choice," added Neuville. "We started on used tyres, but I didn't feel any loss of performance. We're driving well and we set three fastest [stage] times, so we certainly can't complain about that!

"I had a good feeling with the car - the only thing we need to resolve is a little bit of understeer. I'm still discovering this car on Tarmac, so our pace notes remain a little slow and we're working on perfecting the set-up, but we are definitely moving in the right direction.

"It's an enjoyable battle for the lead and we need to keep Jari-Matti under pressure this afternoon. It's so close that we cannot afford to give away any time. But there's a long way to go and I feel confident in the vineyards so I think we have the pace to challenge."

Behind the top two, Dani Sordo is 'best of the rest' in his Citroen DS3 WRC car, albeit 12.7 seconds back.

Sordo's Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen is next up and fourth, a further 13.2 seconds adrift, while Mads Ostberg rounds out the top five.

"I wouldn't say that we are necessarily struggling with the set-up - it's more the driving to be honest. I think we have quite a good set-up, but I'm just not able to use it properly," lamented Ostberg, who is 52 seconds off P4. "We'll try and make the car a bit easier to drive in service and hopefully we can improve our times this afternoon."

Martin Prokop, Nasser Al-Attiyah and former F1 ace Robert Kubica hold positions 6 through to 8, the latter 8.3 seconds up on Elfyn Evans, his closest WRC2 class rival.

Michal Kosciuszko completes the top ten in what is just his second outing with the Fiesta RS WRC, although he has lost time after injuring his back in SS3.

In addition to Ogier, Per-Gunnar Andersson was also forced out today when he had more overheating issues. Andersson had to stop prematurely on Thursday evening as well with the same problem.

Rallye Deutschland now continues this afternoon with a repeat-run through this morning's three tests. SS6, Mittelmosel 2, is due to start at 16.12 hours local time [15.12 hours UK time].

Rallye Deutschland: Overall standings after Stage 5 (Top 10):

1. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 59m 12.6s M
2. Thierry Neuville Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 02.4s M
3. Dani Sordo Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +00m 15.1s M
4. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +00m 28.3s M
5. Mads Ostberg Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01m 20.3s M
6. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 45.3s M
7. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 55.1s M
8. Robert Kubica Citroen DS3 RRC +03m 17.8s WRC2
9. Elfyn Evans Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta R5 +03m 26.1s WRC2
10. Michal Kosciuszko Lotos Team WRC Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03m 42.7s M

Others

11. Sepp Wiegand Skoda Fabia S2000 +04m 21.0s WRC2
12. Hayden Paddon Skoda Fabia S2000 +04m 45.5s WRC2
13. Khalid Al-Qassimi Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +05m 16.7s M
14. Sebastien Chardonnet Citroen DS3 R3T +05m 57.1s WRC3

WRC2 standings after Stage 5 (Top 3):

1. Robert Kubica Citroen DS3 RRC 1h 02m 30.4s WRC2
2. Elfyn Evans Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta R5 +00m 08.3s WRC2
3. Sepp Wiegand Skoda Fabia S2000 +01m 03.2s WRC2

WRC3 standings after Stage 5 (Top 3):

1. Sebastien Chardonnet Citroen DS3 R3T 1h 05m 09.7s WRC3
2. Quentin Gilbert Citroen DS3 R3T +00m 31.1s WRC3
3. Keith Cronin Citroen DS3 R3T +01m 12.3s WRC3

JWRC standings after Stage 5 (Top 3)

1. Pontus Tidemand Ford Fiesta R2 1h 08m 14.1s JWRC
2. Yeray Lemes Ford Fiesta R2 +00m 06.7s JWRC
3. Michael Burri Ford Fiesta R2 +01m 23.9s 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*

SS3. Per-Gunnar Andersson Ford Fiesta RS WRC Overheating
SS4. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC Suspension damage after off in SS3 M

*denotes re-started under the Rally 2 regulations
M denotes Manufacturer entry

all times unofficial