The start of day two of the ADAC Rallye Deutschland proved very beneficial for the Citroën Total World Rally Team. After a series of twist and turns, Sébastien Loeb is now 1m 30s ahead of Latvala and Mikko Hirvonen has moved up to third place.
Despite the mass of dark grey clouds hovering overhead, rain was not forecast as the competitors left the service park. All the leading crews went with ‘hard’ Michelin Pilot Sport tyres for the day’s first two stages.
However, two kilometres after the start of ‘Stein & Wein’, the stage was hit by a heavy downpour. First on the road, Sébastien Loeb was less affected than his rivals, who were gradually submerged by the rain! As a result, he extended his lead over Petter Solberg from 20s to 41s: “Showers were not forecast at all, so I had to drive on eggshells because there was already a lot of aquaplaning. I also drove cautiously on SS8, which was also wet.”
After the remote service period in the village of Birkenfeld, the morning continued with the infamous Arena Panzeplatte stage, a winding 46km-long test on roads through the Baumholder military camp.
Driving on soft tyres to avoid being caught out by another shower, Sébastien Loeb went quickest whilst his rivals bit the dust: Petter Solberg tore off a wheel, Thierry Neuville went off and Dani Sordo had a puncture!
“And yet I wasn’t pushing really. I was trying to save my tyres,” explained Seb at the SS9 stop control. “We now have a very significant lead over Jari-Matti Latvala and we should be able to control the rally from here.”
This series of incidents enabled Mikko Hirvonen to move back up into third place: “I can’t believe it! The conditions on SS7 were awful, but things went better on the next two stages.”
After stopping off at the Trier service park, the crews will have to tackle the same stages again this afternoon!