RICH PICKINGS FOR MIKKELSEN
Contested on rain-soaked roads in the Mosel vineyards, day one of the ADAC Rallye Deutschland saw Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jæger showcase their skills on tarmac. After leading in the early part of the afternoon, the Norwegians ended the day in second position, 5.7s behind the leader. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT can also rely upon Craig Breen and Scott Martin, who lie seventh overall.
- The rally got underway on Thursday evening, with a super special stage held in the streets of Sarrebruck. Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle made a terrible start when they hit a concrete wall on the opening stage, breaking the steering and leaving them with no choice but to stop.
- Thanks to the hard work of the mechanics, the no.7 C3 WRC crew were back in action this morning with a ten-minute penalty applied, as per the Rally2 rules. Today's leg began with four stages: two passes on Wadern-Weiskirchen (SS2/SS5) split by two classic speed tests, Mittelmosel (SS3) and Grafschaft (SS4).
- With the weather forecast suggesting rain would fall during the morning, tyre choice proved tricky for the crews. Andreas Mikkelsen went with five soft compound Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, whilst Craig Breen and Kris Meeke opted for a mix of four softs and two hards.
- As soon as the morning's stages got underway, Andreas Mikkelsen was among the frontrunners. Second after Mittelmosel 1, the Norwegian took the stage win on SS4 to move into the overall lead! As the crews headed for the mid-leg service, the no.9 C3 WRC remained top of the timesheets with a 4.1s lead over Tänak.
- Not especially happy with his tyre choice on Mittelmosel, Craig Breen lost time on Grafschaft by making a few minor mistakes. At the day's halfway point, the no.8 crew held seventh position overall, 31.5s behind Mikkelsen.
- Whilst the mechanics were busy working on the cars during service, the anticipated rain began to fall, suggesting the crews were in for a difficult afternoon. On the second loop, the new Michelin Pilot Sport FW (full wet) tyres were used competitively for the first time, with two taken by Craig Breen, four by Andreas Mikkelsen and six by Kris Meeke!
- In conditions like these, Andreas Mikkelsen's position in the running order – twelfth at the start of the day – proved to be a major handicap. As in the morning loop, the Norwegian pushed from start to finish, but Tänak grabbed the lead after SS7. At the end of the leg, Andreas remained on the shoulder of his rival, just 5.7s off the pace.
- Having moved up to sixth position after SS7, Craig Breen spun on the final stage of the day, losing a place in the process.
- Tomorrow, most of day two of the ADAC Rallye Deutschland will be contested in the Baumholder military base, but part of the leg will also take in some country roads in the Sarre department.
Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal: "We were not looking forward to today's leg, because our drivers had disadvantageous starting positions if it rained. As expected, the rain did indeed fall, but Andreas Mikkelsen managed to overcome this handicap by being fast without making any serious mistakes. Thanks to the combined work of our engineers, the weather teams and safety crews, I think we made the right calls on tyre choice for the conditions. It's very positive for Citroën to have a crew fighting at the front. Tomorrow, Andreas will have a similar starting position to his rivals, so it promises to be an even more interesting fight. Despite his lack of experience on this rally, Craig Breen managed to keep out of any serious trouble. He can still aim for a top five place by the end of the rally."
Andreas Mikkelsen: "Obviously, it's great to be fighting for first place. I knew that it would be a tough day because of my starting position. Fortunately, it didn't rain very much this morning. This afternoon, however, the rain was torrential at times for the second passes and the roads turned into a mudbath. We made the right call on tyre choice to go with the full wets. Throughout the day, we had to take a lot of risks to stay at the front and that's what we managed to do. It'll be a close fight tomorrow, but everything is possible at this stage."
Craig Breen: "It hasn't really been what I would call a good day. Tyre choice was difficult and I regularly had trouble finding the right feeling in the car when switching from one configuration to another. I made a few mistakes that cost a bit of time, but we're still in the race. We'll be driving on a totally different surface tomorrow, so that will give us an opportunity to reset before tackling the second leg."
Kris Meeke: "After my really stupid mistake last night, it wasn't easy to feel confident again and find the right rhythm this morning. The rain and the mud only made my job more difficult. I'm pleased to have been able to try the Michelin Pilot Sport FW tyres in racing conditions, it was an interesting experience. I hope the rest of the rally will be a bit more enjoyable. We know that the car works well: we saw that in Corsica, in testing and Andreas has shown it again today. I'd also like to find a good rhythm in the car."
STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
1. Tänak / Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1:07:23.0
2. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Citroën C3 WRC) +5.7
3. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +28.2
4. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +30.6
5. Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +52.1
6. Hänninen / Lindstrom (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:14.7
7. Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:24.5
8. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:54.7
9. Paddon / Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:29.5
10. Kopecky / Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) +3:36.2
31. Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) +11:11.3