Rallye Deutschland: Latvala doubles lead, survives scare

Jari-Matti Latvala extends his lead from 7.3 seconds to 14.8 seconds post-SS11; Thierry Neuville remains second, although Dani Sordo has closed up and is now just 9 seconds back; Mikko Hirvonen and Mads Ostberg round out the top five; Sebastien Ogier re-starts under Rally 2 and wins two of the three stages...
Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala has successfully increased his lead on Rallye Deutschland this morning, despite hitting a hinkelstein in SS11.

Latvala began the third leg with a 7.3 second advantage over Thierry Neuville, and in the first test of the day, he was third fastest – 0.1 seconds up on his Belgian rival. Latvala then beat him again in SS10, setting the second best time, 3.2 seconds quicker than Neuville.

The final test of the loop was the daunting 41.08 km Arena Panzerplatte test and once again Jari-Matti had the edge, gaining another 4.2 seconds, although he had a lucky escape after contact with a hinkelstein – one of the large concrete blocks that line the test and are designed to keep tanks on the road.

“There was one left hand corner in the forest that was very, very slippery and I just lost a little bit of grip on that, we went wide and we just hit the hinkelstein and that sent us into a small spin,” Latvala recalled. “It was a very lucky situation - all is OK with the car.”

“Initially, I saved the tyres too much [in SS11]. Then I attacked, but I wasn't fast enough,” lamented Neuville, who is now 14.8 seconds adrift.

"This was our first time through all of '[Arena] Panzerplatte' though, so it was always going to be a bit more of a challenge for us," he added. "I tried to manage the tyres and not push too much and in the end the time wasn't too bad.

“I had a good start this morning however, and now I am really looking forward to the afternoon. If it is wet, I think it will be really interesting. I can definitely do more, especially on the twisty sections. Of course we will need to be careful, but I think the Fiesta will be really good in the rain and I hope I can also prove my ability in those kinds of conditions.”

Behind, Citroen's Dani Sordo had an encouraging morning in his DS3 WRC, and after going quickest in SS10 and second quickest in SS9 and SS11, he has closed up on Neuville, the gap now down to just 9 seconds.

Mikko Hirvonen and Mads Ostberg hold fourth and fifth places respectively, although both are some way back, and overshot the same junction in Peterberg 1.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Jari-Matti Latvala,  Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo WRC #7, Volkswagen Motorsport)
Jari-Matti Latvala,  Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo WRC #7, Volkswagen Motorsport)
Jari-Matti Latvala,  Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo WRC #7, Volkswagen Motorsport)
Jari-Matti Latvala,  Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo WRC #7, Volkswagen Motorsport)

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