SS3: Mittelmosel 1, 22.00km
The initial section is all about the vineyards above the Mosel river. It is littered with hairpins, both downhill and uphill, and tricky junctions among the grapes. After exiting the vines, there is a 1.3km blast along a main road to the village of Rivenich, which drivers leave across open fields. The stage becomes more open before ending by the river with more hairpins.
SS4: Wadern-Weiskirchen 1, 9.27km
Wadern-Weiskirchen weaves through open fields, with plenty of opportunities for corner cutting. The roads are narrow and it is littered with junctions, but the sections linking them are very quick. It’s a lapping stage and crews tackle the same roads twice before peeling off the ‘circuit’ to the finish. If it’s wet, the junctions will be very muddy.
He returned to the Bostalsee service park having demoted Thierry Neuville from top spot with fastest times in the bumpy and narrow Mittelmosel vineyard and smoother Wadern-Weiskirchen country road special stages. The gap between them was 3.2sec.
After losing his overnight lead in the opening test, Tänak made some modifications to his Toyota Yaris and was happier with the performance through the next two tests.
“I’ve been fine tuning a bit and things are coming together, so I hope the second loop will be better. The two stages had very different characteristics. The last one was just straights and junctions and in one place I was really wide,” said the Estonian.
Neuville was second in both stages in his Hyundai i20 but could only shake his head when he saw Tänak’s time at the end of Wadern-Weiskirchen. “No chance,” was his assessment.
World champion Sébastien Ogier was 13.7sec off the pace in third but at odds with his understeering Citroën C3. “I have some ideas what is the problem, I don’t have ideas of what we need to do,” said the Frenchman, who also lost time with a stall in Mittelmosel.
Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo fought tooth and nail for fourth. Meeke held the advantage by a tenth from the Spaniard despite believing he lacked commitment in his Yaris through Wadern-Weiskirchen.
Sordo was unhappy on roads that became increasingly dirty as cars ahead dragged gravel onto the surface. The Hyundai i20 pilot had almost two seconds in hand over Jari-Matti Latvala’s Yaris.
Esapekka Lappi was seventh, but struggling for rhythm in his C3, just 0.4sec clear of Andreas Mikkelsen, whose i20 was understeering into corners. Gus Greensmith and WRC 2 Pro leader Kalle Rovanperä completed the top 10.