SÉBASTIEN OGIER CLAIMED THE LEAD OF ADAC RALLYE DEUTSCHLAND AFTER WINNING FRIDAY MORNING’S OPENING SPEED TEST IN HIS FORD FIESTA.
The Frenchman stopped the clocks 1.0sec quicker than title rival Thierry Neuville, with overnight leader Ott Tänak a further 0.7sec behind.
Ogier’s fastest time demoted Tänak to second overall by 0.8sec, with championship leader Neuville another 1.3sec adrift.
Dry roads greeted competitors and Ogier, sixth after last night’s short curtain-raiser in St Wendel, was relaxed. “It’s very close. The feeling was OK, but not so much grip this morning, a bit of understeer,” he said.
Handling issues were a common complaint and Neuville reported both understeer and oversteer from his Hyundai i20.
“I’m not happy with the rhythm. I struggled a bit between understeer and oversteer all the time and I wasn’t committed enough. The car was moving around and I wasn’t confident enough in its behaviour,” explained the Belgian.
Tänak is driving a Toyota Yaris for only the second time on a pure asphalt encounter and the Estonian wasn’t comfortable in the high-speed sections. “The stability is not so nice, I hope we can improve that,” he said.
The leading trio already held a small gap over their pursuers, who were handicapped by dirt and stones dragged onto the road by those ahead.
Toyota Gazoo duo Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi were fourth and fifth in the stage, but the latter held the advantage on the leaderboard. Lappi was 3.5sec adrift of Neuville.
Dani Sordo completed the top six, the Spaniard unhappy with the feeling inside his i20.