Sebastien Ogier has taken the early lead on Rallye Deutschland, winning two of the three opening stages to establish a slender 1.8 second cushion over Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala.

Ogier, who comes into the event as the favourite and keen to do well as it is VW's home event, began the day by just edging out Latvala on the first test, the 14.14 km Sauertal 1 stage, when he was 0.4 seconds faster. The Frenchman was then quickest again in SS2, 1.7 seconds up on the #2 Polo R WRC, and while Latvala struck back and won SS3, Ogier was only 0.3 seconds adrift.

"I set the fastest time in the first stage, but I was not happy because I made a few slight mistakes. I attacked a little bit less in SS2 and it was a nice stage, as was SS3. At the moment it's a close battle between Jari-Matti and me but there's a long way to go," Ogier remarked.

Related Articles

Latvala reported a "big moment" before the end of the opening test, when he cut too much and the car got airborne. He also said it was very slippery in SS2 and SS3, but remains he firmly in contention.

"A good time but it's not easy," he added after winning Moselland 1. "It is more slippery this year than last. Maybe there is a bit more dirt on the road, I don't know. It was difficult to gauge if there was grip or not."

Behind, Kris Meeke is running 'best of the rest', just like in Finland earlier this month. The Briton made a mistake in the opening test when he spun his Citroen DS3 WRC 360 degrees. However two third fastest times in SS2 and SS3 have allowed him to climb up from eighth to P3, 22.1 seconds off the fight for the win, and 4.6 seconds up on his ex-team-mate Dani Sordo in fourth.

Sordo struggled a bit in SS2 with his Hyundai and was only eighth fastest, but fourth fastest times in SS1 and SS3 keep him up there and in the fight for a podium, although it is very close from P3 right the way down to P9.

Indeed Volkswagen Motorsport II driver Andreas Mikkelsen is only just 2.8 seconds off Sordo's i20 WRC in fifth, despite hitting something at the start of SS3. That cost the Norwegian third overall, but fortunately for him his tyre did stayed inflated until near the end of the 21.02 km test.

Citroen's Mads Ostberg is next up, 0.3 seconds back, and only 1.2 seconds ahead of Mikko Hirvonen in P7, who went off into a field in SS1 and lost a few seconds. Hirvonen in turn has just 1.7 seconds on Thierry Neuville and he is only 5.9 seconds up on Elfyn Evans. Evans reported a long brake pedal at the end of SS3, but was otherwise just "finding his feet", while Neuville complained about handbrake issues in SS1 and brake problems in SS3. He was though, happy to have started after his massive crash on Thursday in the shakedown.

Bryan Bouffier rounds out the top ten on his debut with Hyundai, the Frenchman having managed two tenths quickest times and an eleventh so far in his i20 WRC.

In WRC2, Bernando Sousa leads in his Ford Fiesta RRC, 2.1 seconds in front of Pontus Tidemand. Nasser Al-Attiyah holds third, 9.2 seconds back, with Ott Tanak fourth and Julien Maurin fifth, giving Ford a 1-2-3-4-5. Sebastien Chardonnet had led the principal support class in his Citroen DS3 R5, but power steering problems in SS3 cost him over 2 minutes and dropped him down to eighth.

There were no major retirements, although former Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica went off in SS3 and lost over 4 minutes. Prior to that Kubica had been running in ninth place. He now drops outside of the top 30.

The first leg of Rallye Deutschland now concludes this afternoon with a repeat-run through this morning's three stages. SS4, the 14.14 km Sauertal 2 test, is scheduled to start at 14.42 hours local time [13.42 hours UK time].

Rallye Deutschland: Overall standings after Stage 3 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 29m 47.2s M
2. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 01.8s M
3. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +00m 23.9s M
4. Dani Sordo Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +00m 28.5s M
5. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +00m 31.3s M
6. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +00m 31.6s M
7. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 32.8s M
8. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +00m 34.5s M
9. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 40.4s M
10. Bryan Bouffier Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +00m 53.7s M


11. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01m 03.9s M
12. Sam Moffett Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01m 55.4s
13. Dennis Kuipers M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01m 56.6s
14. Bernardo Sousa Ford Fiesta RRC +02m 17.2s WRC

WRC2 standings after Stage 3 (Top 3):

1. Bernardo Sousa Ford Fiesta RRC 32m 04.4s WRC2
2. Pontus Tidemand Ford Fiesta R5 +00m 02.1s WRC2
3. Nasser Al-Attiyah Ford Fiesta RRC +00m 11.3s WRC2

Notable retirements:


M denotes Manufacturer entry

all times unofficial