MIKKELSEN HANGS TOUGH
Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jæger had to fight hard on stages in the Baumholder military base to hang onto second position at Rallye Deutschland. Craig Breen and Scott Martin edged closer to the top five, whilst Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle were forced to retire due to a mechanical issue.
- Unlike yesterday, the crews were greeted by bright sunshine as they drove into service this morning at the start of today's second leg.
- The schedule for the morning loop included both Panzerplatte stages – the short and long versions – as well as two speed tests in the Sarre. With the roads still damp in many places early this morning, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT crews opted to fit soft compound Michelin Pilot Sport tyres.
- However, this proved not to be the right call... Whilst holding onto second position overall, Mikkelsen lost ground on Tänak… and also saw Ogier close the gap behind! Craig Breen ended the 41.97km speed test with a shredded tyre, whilst Kris Meeke posted the best performance of the Citroën drivers on this stage.
- A spin on SS11 did little to improve Andreas Mikkelsen's plight! But on Römerstraße (SS12), he hit back to record the third fastest time.
- The second part of the morning was somewhat trying for Craig Breen, who had two overshoots on the Sarre stages. Sixth at the mid-leg service, the Irishman nonetheless remained within striking distance of Evans and Hänninen ahead.
- For the second runs on the Baumholder military base stages, soft tyres were the obvious choice for everyone. Despite dropping a few seconds when he stalled at the start of SS14, Andreas Mikkelsen produced a superb performance on Panzerplatte 2 (SS15) to grab second spot, just 1.8s off the stage-winning time.
- Fourth and second on the short Arena Panzerplatte stages, Kris Meeke was unable to pursue his race after SS14. A mechanical problem meant the Northern Irishman had to retire.
- Andreas Mikkelsen continued to put pressure on the leader right to the end of the day… whilst also keeping his nearest challenger at bay. Faster overall than his rivals on the last two stages, he ended the day just 21.4s behind Tänak, having extended his lead over Ogier to 8.2s.
- With a consistent set of tyres, Craig Breen was able to adopt better pace: he closed to within twenty seconds of fourth place!
- Tomorrow's third and final leg of Rallye Deutschland features four stages, making up just 16% of the total competitive distance. The rally is scheduled to finish after the Power Stage, scheduled to start at 12.18pm.
Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal: “Once again, Andreas Mikkelsen has had a very good day. Although his chances of winning the rally in normal racing conditions seem fairly remote, the final leg will be interesting and he'll need to keep fighting to hold off Sébastien Ogier. Craig Breen had his fair share of highs and lows today, but he moved up the overall standings and once again, a top five place is within his reach. On the other hand, it's a shame that Kris Meeke had to retire just as he was starting to find some speed and confidence again. We'll try and get to the bottom of the problem after the rally."
Andreas Mikkelsen: "I'm pleased with today's leg, first and foremost because I have finally mastered the famous Panzerplatte stage. Thanks to the work we did in pre-event testing, I managed to find the right balance between pushing and saving the tyres over the full 42km. In the overall standings, the situation has changed a little bit: Ott Tänak did a good job to pull out a bit of a lead. Tomorrow will be more about me trying to hold off Sébastien Ogier and hang onto second place. I'm ready to push to the maximum in order to manage it!"
Craig Breen: "Today's leg was better than yesterday's one. It was nonetheless difficult this morning, I was struggling to find any confidence. On the second pass, we went with a more consistent tyre choice and that helped me to improve. I made a few mistakes, including an overshoot on the last stag of the day, but we still managed to close the gap to the guys ahead. We'll keep fighting until the end!"
Kris Meeke: "I felt good in the car today and was gradually upping my pace. Then we had an alarm on the dash indicating an issue with the engine cooling system so we stopped. We won't be rejoining under Rally2 rules tomorrow for three reasons: we don't want to run the risk of damaging the engine, Paul's wife gave birth to a baby boy this afternoon and we've nothing to gain from contesting the last four short stages."
STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1. Tänak / Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2:31:32.2
2. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Citroën C3 WRC) +21.4
3. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +29.6
4. Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:48.3
5. Hänninen / Lindstrom (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:52.5
6. Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) +2:06.7
7. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4:04.9
8. Paddon / Marshall (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:31.3
9. Camilli / Veillas (Ford Fiesta R5) +8:41.9
10. Kremer / Winklhofer (Ford Fiesta WRC) +8:54.5