Not for the first time in Germany, Baumholder’s daunting tank training roads played a crucial part in the outcome of this season’s final all-asphalt encounter.
For almost two days the difference between Ott Tänak and Thierry Neuville at the top of the leaderboard could be counted on the fingers of one hand (on occasions you might have needed to borrow a couple of digits from the other limb….).
Then the rally arrived at the tricky multi-surfaced Panzerplatte and everything changed. Heading into the first pass over the marathon 41.17km test, the Estonian held a 6.6sec margin over his rival.
Neuville punctured and, despite a superfast tyre change, the Belgian found himself more than 90sec down. Tänak was clear and on the way to a third straight Germany victory.
Quote of the Rally
Back in a Hyundai i20 after his Italy win in June, Dani Sordo was enjoying a good run in fourth until Friday’s closing Wadern-Weiskirchen test, when a gearbox problem cost almost a minute and sent him plunging to ninth.
The deeply disappointed Spaniard put a brave face on things: “At least first gear is working!” he joked.
One to Forget
Both Sébastien Ogier and Esapekka Lappi struggled with severe understeer in their Citroën C3s. The problem reared its head on the previous sealed-surface round in Corsica back in March and resurfaced again in Germany as neither could get their cars to turn in.
Lappi managed a couple of second fastest times in the less technical Römerstraße stage but Ogier’s frustrations grew as the rally progressed. Seventh and eighth was not the outcome the Red Army desired.