Rallye Deutschland - after stage 9
Ford World Rally Team drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila climbed to second in Rallye Deutschland after a dramatic opening to today’s second leg. The Finns dropped from third to fifth in their Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car after overshooting a rain-soaked bend, before gaining three places in the rally’s keynote speed test at the daunting Baumholder military area.
But there was bad news for team-mates Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson who retired from second after hitting a rock and damaging the rear right of their Fiesta RS WRC too seriously too continue.
Sixty-two of the original 71 starters left Trier, with the toughest leg of this ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship in wait. Drivers tackled the first of two loops of three speed tests, encompassing similar vineyard tracks to yesterday, narrow lanes in the Saarland countryside and daunting kerbstone-lined roads over the Baumholder tank training area.
Like their rivals, Solberg and Latvala opted for Michelin’s hard compound tyres, but rain unexpectedly began to fall in the opening 26.54km Stein & Wein test among the Mosel grapes. The hard rubber was unsuited to the wet asphalt and although Solberg and Latvala were second and third, they lost more than 20sec to leader Sébastien Loeb, who started ahead and enjoyed drier conditions.
Both fitted their soft compound spare tyre to the right rear of their Fiesta RS WRCs for the following 9.37km Peterberg special stage. With improved grip, Solberg was second but Latvala dropped 30sec after being caught out by the wet roads and slipped to fifth overall.
“My car had a hard set-up for the dry conditions we expected, so we softened the settings before the stage start,” explained the 27-year-old Finn. “However, I hit some water running across the road just before a bend and locked the brakes. The car went straight on into a field and became stuck on the wet grass. I had to manoeuvre backwards and forwards several times before I could continue.”
Both Ford drivers switched to soft compound tyres for the monster 46.54km Arena Panzerplatte test in Baumholder. Latvala was second fastest to vault to second. However, in doing so he displaced 37-year-old Solberg, who was sidelined around 30km after the start.
“Moving from fifth to second feels good, but I’m disappointed for Petter. Panzerplatte was tough and required great concentration. My split times were fastest for virtually all the stage but my tyres started to move around towards the end and I lost a handful of seconds. I need to measure my pace now, because I’m too far from the lead to challenge, but I’m almost 40sec ahead of fourth,” added Latvala.
Leaderboard after stage 9 of 15
1. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen DS3 2hr 11min 08.6sec
2. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Fiesta RS 2hr 12min 38.3sec
3. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Citroen DS3 2hr 13min 13.6sec
4. M Østberg/J Andersson NOR Ford Fiesta RS 2hr 13min 56.5sec
5. O Tänak/K Sikk EST Ford Fiesta RS 2hr 13min 57.3sec
6. D Sordo/C Del Barrio ESP Mini John Cooper 2hr 15min 05.6sec
7. C Atkinson/S Prévot AUS Mini John Cooper 2hr 16min 36.5sec
8. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Skoda Fabia S2000 2hr 17min 45.9sec
9. P Van Merksteijn/E Chevaillier NED Citroen DS3 2hr 18min 14.2sec
10 A Mikkelsen/O Floene NOR Skoda Fabia S2000 2hr 19min 20.9sec
For more information:
Contact Mark Wilford or Russell Atkins at the Ford World Rally Team
media desk in Trier Tel: + 49 651 9935 9001. Images available at www.worldrallypics.com/ford