Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala was fastest on Thursday morning in the shakedown for Rallye Deutschland.
Latvala, who won last time out in Finland, went quickest on his third and final run, completing the 4.55 km Konz test in 2 minutes 21.4 seconds. It left him 0.2 seconds up on VW Motorsport II pilot Andreas Mikkelsen, while Citroen's Kris Meeke took third, 0.5s further back.
“We had a good shakedown," said Latvala. "It was particularly important to find the right set-up for the dampers – and we managed that.
“We must now focus on the key factors at this rally: braking and accelerating out of corners. At the same time, there is not a very big margin for error at Rally Germany. One little mistake can soon mean the end here. It would be great to finally get on the podium here this year. That has to be our goal for the weekend.”
“The shakedown was more or less the same stage as last year, and I know it very well," Mikkelsen continued. "I tried to put that knowledge into practice, by braking in the right places, for example. That is not the only reason I am happy with my drive. The Polo R WRC is really fun to drive on asphalt, and the time was okay too in the end.
"The car is definitely ready to win. It is now up to us drivers to deliver the results it deserves. Given my own performance, I am confident after the shakedown. However, the rally does not really get started until Friday morning.”
Behind, Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier was fourth, 0.1s slower than Meeke, with former F1 driver Robert Kubica fifth in his Fiesta RS WRC, followed by M-Sport's Ott Tanak and Hyundai's Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo in positions 6 through to 8. Mads Ostberg and Elfyn Evans completed the top ten, with Thierry Neuville – last year's winner – eleventh.
“After my rather disappointing performance at last year's Rally Germany, I have come to Trier with an extra-large helping of motivation,” said Ogier. “That is why I did a few extra laps [five] in the Shakedown, to try out all the set-up options for the rally.
“The car felt perfect. I have done a lot of testing over the past week to get to this point. I am ready to go, and am particularly looking forward to the vineyards – especially as it does not look like raining this year. That will make the fast sections around Trier even more enjoyable for all the drivers. Generally speaking, the driving itself is very different to on gravel – the g force is far greater.”
Rallye Deutschland now begins this evening with the ceremonial start in Trier at 20.50 hours local time. The first competitive stage is on Friday.
SS1, the 14.84 km Sauertal 1 test, is due to start tomorrow at 08.30 hours local time. Friday's schedule includes eight stages and a competitive distance of over 135 kilometres. Full itinerary for round nine in WRC 2015 available - HERE
2015 Rallye Deutschland: Shakedown times (Top 10):
1. Jari-Matti Latvala
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 2m 21.4s
2. Andreas Mikkelsen
Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC 2m 21.6s
3. Kris Meeke
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC 2m 22.1s
4. Sebastien Ogier
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 2m 22.2s
5. Robert Kubica
Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2m 23.0s
6. Ott Tanak
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2m 23.4s
7. Hayden Paddon
Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC 2m 23.6s
8. Dani Sordo
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC 2m 23.7s
9. Mads Ostberg
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC 2m 23.8s
10. Elfyn Evans
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2m 23.9s
11. Thierry Neuville
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC 2m 24.3s
12. Stephane Lefebvre
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC 2m 25.1s
13. Kevin Abbring
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC 2m 25.7s
14. Martin Prokop
Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2m 27.8s
M denotes Manufacturer entry
all times unofficial