Citroen driver Dani Sordo has ended day three of Rallye Deutschland in the lead, but the final test was cancelled after a fatal accident
involving a historic car participating in a 'non-competitive demonstration programme'.
Sordo had been running third for much of the event, the ninth round in the 2013 World Rally Championship, but the Spaniard found himself bumped up into top spot on the repeat loop this afternoon, when his two rivals ahead, Jari-Matti Latvala and Thierry Neuville both ran into trouble.
Latvala had built up a 14.8 second advantage going into the mid-day halt, but he got caught out by the tricky conditions in SS12, clipping a pile of logs and damaging his Volkswagen Polo R WRC. He had to stop, but will re-start under the Rally 2 rules on Sunday, albeit now down in seventh place.
Neuville also had problems in Stein & Wein 2, and at exactly the same corner as Latvala. The Belgian, however, was able to continue and despite damaging the exhaust on his Qatar WRT-run M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, he initially moved up into the lead, before slipping back in SS13. With just 0.8 seconds between Sordo and Neuville though, the scene is set for an exciting conclusion to the event on Sunday.
“Obviously, like everyone, my first thoughts go to the families and friends of the two crews members who were involved in this terrible accident,” Sordo said. “As regards the rally itself, I'm pleased to have been the quickest when the conditions were at their most difficult. We're now in front, but the lead is less than a second. I'm going to remain totally focussed in order to tackle the final two stages in the best possible frame of mind. It's going to be a great scrap tomorrow!”
“It was a difficult afternoon,” Neuville added. “Where we had the problem on SS12, I was already 20km/h slower than usual but I think we should have probably been another 20km/h slower than that! We were very lucky because it could have been easy to lose the whole rally there.
“Jari-Matti [Latvala] had brought a lot of mud onto the road [after his off] which sent me sliding wide. We hit a log pile which damaged the exhaust and left us slightly down-on-power for the remainder of the loop. But I think we managed the situation well and we achieved the maximum in the circumstances.
“We are definitely going to push tomorrow and we will attack from the start. But we won't take any unnecessary risks – especially if the weather is as tricky as it was this afternoon. We need to be clever and keep all four wheels on the road. It will not be an easy day, but we are ready to fight and give it our all.”
Behind, Mikko Hirvonen is now on course for the final spot on the podium, albeit almost a 1.5 minutes adrift in his Citroen DS3 WRC.
“After finishing on the podium at my last five tarmac rallies, I'm going to try and keep the run going now by bringing home this result,” Hirvonen noted. “We got through a difficult day and we'll need to do the same thing tomorrow. Hopefully, we can secure a great result for the entire Citroen team.”
Martin Prokop lies fourth for the Jipocar Czech National Team, while former F1 driver, Robert Kubica and Elfyn Evans are fifth and sixth respectively, and squabbling for the WRC2 class victory. Post-SS13 just 7.8 seconds splits the two.
“Yes, it was a good fight today, but for the time being, the results are not really what count most for me,” Kubica stated. “I still have a lot to learn, not least about these conditions, where the grip is very different from one corner to the next.”
Further back, after Latvala in P7, Hayden Paddon lies eighth in his Skoda Fabia S2000, one spot ahead of Mads Ostberg. Ostberg had been in fifth, but like Latvala and Neuville, he had problems in SS12. After going off the road the Qatar M-Sport man was unable to re-join and was forced out. He will also re-start tomorrow.
Evgeny Novikov, who went off in the very first test of the event on Thursday evening, now completes the top ten, ahead of Khalid Al-Qassimi, Yuriy Protasov and WRC3 leader, Sebastien Chardonnet.
Sebastien Ogier, who led early on and who is running under Rally 2 is now up to 24th position. The championship leader won three of the five stages today, while Sordo took the other two.
In the JWRC, which finished at the end of Saturday's proceedings, Pontus Tidemand took the class victory, 1m 47.5s up on Michael Burri. Yeray Lemes was third.
As for retirements, in addition to Latvala and Ostberg, day three also claimed Nasser Al-Attiyah. Al-Attiyah hit a rock in SS11 and broke a steering arm.
Rallye Deutschland now concludes on Sunday, with just one stage on the bill, the 24.58 km Dhrontal test, which will be run twice. SS15, Dhrontal 1, is due to start at 09.18 hours local time [08.18 hours UK time].Rallye Deutschland: Overall standings after Stage 13 (Top 10):
1. Dani Sordo
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC 2h 43m 48.5s
2. Thierry Neuville
Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 00.8s
3. Mikko Hirvonen
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +01m 27.6s
4. Martin Prokop
Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +06m 06.3s
5. Robert Kubica
Citroen DS3 RRC +07m 33.1s
6. Elfyn Evans
Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta R5 +07m 40.9s
7. Jari-Matti Latvala
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +09m 27.0s
8. Hayden Paddon
Skoda Fabia S2000 +10m 37.3s
9. Mads Ostberg
Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +12m 27.8s
10. Evgeny Novikov
Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +14m 11.8s
11. Khalid Al-Qassimi
Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +14m 26.7s
12. Yuriy Protasov
Ford Fiesta R5 +15m 22.9s
13. Sebastien Chardonnet
Citroen DS3 R3T +18m 39.4s
14. Subhan Aksa
Ford Fiesta R5 +19m 21.7s
15. Nasser Al-Attiyah
Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +19m 54.7s
16. Sepp Wiegand
Skoda Fabia S2000 +20m 21.8s
WRC2WRC2 standings after Stage 13 (Top 3):
1. Robert Kubica
Citroen DS3 RRC 2h 51m 21.6s
2. Elfyn Evans
Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta R5 +00m 07.8s
3. Hayden Paddon
Skoda Fabia S2000 +03m 04.2s
WRC2WRC3 standings after Stage 13 (Top 3):
1. Sebastien Chardonnet
Citroen DS3 R3T 3h 02m 27.9s
2. Keith Cronin
Citroen DS3 R3T +02m 45.6s
3. Mohamed Al-Mutawaa
Citroen DS3 R3T +22m 04.8s
WRC3JWRC standings after Stage 13
1. Pontus Tidemand
Ford Fiesta R2 3h 09m 26.8s
2. Michael Burri
Ford Fiesta R2 +01m 47.5s
3. Yeray Lemes
Ford Fiesta R2 +02m 11.2s
4. Martin Koci
Ford Fiesta R2 +20m 24.9s
5. Jose Antonio Suarez
Ford Fiesta R2 +04m 31.6s
6. Sander Parn
Ford Fiesta R2 +07m 05.1s
7. Murat Bostanci
Ford Fiesta R2 +11m 58.9s
8. Niko-Pekka Nieminen
Ford Fiesta R2 +12m 22.1s
9. Pieter Jan Michael Cracco
Ford Fiesta R2 +17m 59.0s
10. Marius Aasen
Ford Fiesta R2 +39m 36.3s
DNS. Andreas Mikkelsen
Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC Did not start – co-driver injury
SS1. Evgeny Novikov
Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Went off the road
SS1/2. Per-Gunnar Andersson
Ford Fiesta RS WRC Stopped
SS3. Per-Gunnar Andersson
Ford Fiesta RS WRC Retired
SS4. Sebastien Ogier
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC Suspension damage after off in SS3
SS5/6. Michal Kosciuszko
Lotos Team WRC Ford Fiesta RS WRC Injury
SS11. Nasser Al-Attiyah
Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Suspension
SS12. Jari-Matti Latvala
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC Went off
SS12. Mads Ostberg
Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Went off
*denotes re-started under the Rally 2 regulations
M denotes Manufacturer entry
# JWRC event concluded after Saturday's stagesall times unofficial