Jari-Matti Latvala set the pace this morning in the shakedown for Rallye Deutschland, the first pure asphalt event of the season and Volkswagen's home event.
Latvala set his best time on his fourth and final run through the 4.60 km Konza test, when he completed it in 2 minute 20.8 seconds in his Volkswagen Polo R WRC. That left him 0.5 seconds up on team-mate and championship leader, Sebastien Ogier.
“We know that the Polo is very quick on asphalt, and the Shakedown gave us the opportunity to get used to the conditions around Trier,” Latvala said. “That worked very well for us, and for our team-mates.
“Our goal is obviously to follow on from the success in Finland and challenge for victory again here. If we manage to develop the same confidence and feel for the car as we had before, then there is every chance we will get a good result.
“At the same time, it is important to score valuable points. This would allow us to seal the Manufacturers' Championship for Volkswagen with races to spare, which would obviously be very special for our team at its home rally.”
“There is a good chance that we will win the Manufacturers' title in Germany, which would obviously be superb at our home event. Above all, however, we want to achieve a better team result here than last year,” added Ogier.
“The Shakedown went very well. My team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala is certainly one of my main rivals, but Julien [Ingrassia – my co-driver] and I will also be keeping an eye on the opposition. I believe Thierry Neuville, Dani Sordo and Kris Meeke, in particular, will be strong here. I am looking forward to driving on asphalt again, and particularly like the fast stages in the vineyards. However, you have to be hellish careful: if it rains, the surface becomes extremely slippery and you can fly off the road before you know it.”
Andreas Mikkelsen meanwhile was third in the Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC, 0.6 seconds back. The Norwegian bucked the trend by doing five runs, most did three or four.
“The Rally Germany is the first genuine asphalt event of the season. Despite having little time to test, you have to quickly adapt your driving style from that used on gravel. As such, this will probably be the most challenging rally of the season for us. We completed as many runs as possible in the Shakedown, in order to get a good feel for the different surface. I think we managed that. Bring on the Rally Germany,” Mikkelsen stated.
Britain's Kris Meeke was fourth with last year's Rallye Deutschland winner, Dani Sordo fifth, followed by M-Sport WRT man, Mikko Hirvonen.
Robert Kubica and Thierry Neuville tied for P7 – although the latter crashed heavily in his Hyundai i20 WRC
. Mads Ostberg and Elfyn Evans rounded out the top ten.
The event now gets underway on Friday with two loops of three stages on the bill and a competitive distance of 103.12 kilometres.
SS1, the 14.14 kilometre run through Sauertal 1, is due to start tomorrow at 08.38 hours local time [07.38 hours UK time].
Rallye Deutschland - Shakedown results (Top 10):
1. Jari-Matti Latvala
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 2m 20.8s
2. Sebastien Ogier
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 2m 21.3s
3. Andreas Mikkelsen
Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC 2m 21.9s
4. Kris Meeke
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC 2m 22.5s
5. Dani Sordo
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC 2m 23.0s
6. Mikko Hirvonen
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2m 23.7s
7. Robert Kubica
RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2m 23.9s
= Thierry Neuville
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC 2m 23.9s
9. Mads Ostberg
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC 2m 24.1s
10. Elfyn Evans
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2m 25.2s
11. Dennis Kuipers
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2m 26.7s
12. Bryan Bouffier
Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC 2m 27.7s
13. Martin Prokop
Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 27.7s
all times unofficial