Sebastien Ogier took his fourth win of the year and his very first on asphalt on ADAC Rallye Deutschland today, in the process bringing to a close Sebastien Loeb's eight-year reign on the Trier-based event.
Ogier briefly led on Friday following SS2, but then slipped behind his Citroen colleague to end the first day 7.4 seconds adrift. On Saturday it remained close between the two works DS3 WRC drivers' and while Citroen did instruct its drivers' to hold position, the margin still ebbed and flowed with the younger Frenchman clearly unhappy.
However on the repeat-run through the daunting 34.18 kilometre Panzerplatte test, the event was turned on its head and the dramatic conclusion to the second day saw Loeb slip back to second, losing more than a minute after picking up a puncture.
Ogier was then left way out front and he could just pace himself through the final day, carefully negotiating the last 76 competitive kilometres and eventually triumphing by 39.8 seconds.
It was Citroen's 78th victory in the WRC - the most ever achieved by a single manufacturer in the history of the sport.
“Winning a rally in which my team-mate is so strong is just fantastic,” said Ogier, who now moves up to second in the drivers' championship. “I didn't expect to beat Seb on tarmac. Theoretically, there is still a chance to become world champion for me. As long as this is the case, we will keep on trying.”
Loeb, who had won in Germany every single year since the event joined the championship back in 2002 and who had been unbeaten on all-asphalt since 2004, thus had to settle for the runners-up spot and while he did try and maintain the pressure on the final day he knew it was pretty much a lost cause.
He did win the Power Stage though and take the maximum three bonus points, which was some consolation, and while his championship lead has been cut, he remains 25 points in front with four rounds to go.
“After my eight wins in Germany on the trot, there's no way I can be pleased with second place,” Loeb said. “I've been saying for the past few years that this series would come to an end – and it has!
“We were very unlucky but that's racing. Mathematically speaking [at least] my second place and the points from the Power stage mean that we still have a victory in hand.”