Neuville demotes Tanak, takes lead at German Rally - GulfToday

Neuville demotes Tanak, takes lead at German Rally

Neuville demotes Tanak,   takes lead at German Rally

Thierry Neuville steers his car at Rally of Germany on Friday.

Berlin: Fastest time in Friday morning’s opening speed test promoted Thierry Neuville into the lead at Rally of Germany.

Neuville stopped the clocks 1.7sec faster than Ott Tanak through the 19.44km Stein und Wein special stage to demote the Estonian, who led after last night’s short curtain-raiser.

The gap between the pair was seventh-tenths in the overall standings.

“We know this rally will be a big push from the beginning to the end. I felt like the car was sliding a little bit too much and the grip was low, but it seems to be the road conditions,” said Neuville, who is driving a Hyundai i20.

Tanak was one of many to highlight the inconsistent conditions in the vineyards. “There were changing grip levels in quite a few places which was surprising.

“The asphalt is clean but we are not in a perfect rhythm so we’ll see where we can improve,” said the Toyota Yaris pilot. He was 1.6sec quicker than an understeering Sebastien Ogier, who slotted into third in the standings, 3.2sec off Neuville’s pace in his Citroen C3.

Kris Meeke, Jari-Matti Latvala and Dani Sordo filled the next three places in both the stage and the overall positions.  Both Latvala and Hyundai Motorsport’s Andreas Mikkelsen, who was eighth, complained of understeer. It was a disastrous start for Teemu Suninen, the Finn parking his Ford Fiesta after 9.7km with mechanical problems, while Japan’s Takamoto Katsuta, driving a Yaris World Rally Car for the first time in the WRC, stalled in the opening hairpin.

Rarlier, WRC leader Tanak won the first stage on Thursday, taking the 5.2km St Wendeler Land sprint ahead of a weekend of racing amongst vineyards and a military training ground.

Toyota driver Tanak, who is bidding to end Ogier’s six-year grip on the world title and become the first non-French champion since 2003, came to Germany with a 20-point lead over his Citroen-driving rival.

Agencies