10 things that emerged from WRC Rallye Deutschland


The ADAC Rallye Deutschland has been run and on paper it may not have been the most exciting of rallies. Yet there are a bunch of storylines that have come out of it.

  • Toyota finally fot their 1-2-3. Their first since 1993 and an incredible effort – showing just how good that team is. But it wasn’t all that it seemed as Thierry Neuville was very much on form in the Hyundai, taking stage wins and was only 6.5 seconds off Ott Tanak when his puncture struck. Futhermore before Ogier’s puncture, he was battling with the other Toyotas, so in that respect Toyota had to have a little luck. Plus there was a little brake issue with Tanak – losing one of the front brakes, so it was fortunate he had a little time – and rear-gunners to ensure his victory. Essentially Toyota isnt infalable but it is now Tanak’s title to lose. Just remember Neuville looked the same half way through last year…
  • The guys that were nowhere again this rally were Esapekka Lappi and Andreas Mikkelsen. Both had fantastic runs at Rally Finland to reasssure us all that they are safe and have regained some form. While neither are tarmac experts, both struggled to find their pace. Both suffered some bad luck but neither looked like they would challenge the top 5 on pace alone.
  • Then there were the new-comers – Takamoto Katsuta and Gus Greensmith. The Japanese driver stuggled in his Toyota Yaris WRC, ending up moe than 7 minutes down and struggling to keep the pace of the leading R5s. He was struggling with the feel of the car but to his credit, he did bring it home. Equally, it was a tough WRC tarmac debut for Greensmith, with one minor off that cost him around three minutes. But he also made it home for the first time. Rich Millener would like him back in the R5 car for next round so if Elfyn Evans is not able to continue, we will likely see Pontus Tidemend and Teemu Sunninen in the Fiestas.
  • Both Citroen and M-Sport are developing their R5 cars in front of the public – always a tough ask. But both showed pace this weekend with Camilli taking a couple of stage wins in WRC2 Pro – with one being the 41km Panzerplatte test. Such times would give M-Sport encouragement. Equally Citroen skipped Finland to work on their car which seemed to pay dividends. After being a little lost on Friday, the team made changes and if they had a clean run, they would have been battling for the win – again taking two stage wins, both on Sunday. But in the end it was Kopecky in the Skoda who was able to put a whole rally together.
  • In WRC2 Stephane Lefebvre showed well in the BMA prepared VW. Without a WRC2 seat after being let go by Citroen, this was his first outing. It was a good one too until an error, losing the car on gravel that had been strewen over the road. Broken suspension ended his rally. Equally Nicolas Ciamin was strong, taking a string of fast stage times until he crashed as well. This left the Germans to take their home rally with Fabien Kreim putting in a solid performance in the Skoda R5 Evo.
  • Before the rally we said that Panzerplatte would be the defining stage of the rally. And it lived up to expectations with puntures throughout the field – including French ace and former Subaru driver, Stephane Sarrazin – who is running Hyundais under his own banner. More importantly, it struck two of the title contenders – and a contender for a rally win. Indeed, Neuville had to push and he was unlucky. By losing 90 seconds, he lost the chance for victory – and we lost the chance to see a great fight.
  • It has closed up the Manufacturers fight though with Toyota just a few points off Hyundai – and with the momentum. Hyundai are now under real pressure to pull something out of the bag. Neuville hasn’t won for five rounds (it has been even longer for Ogier) and this has to be of concern to Hyundai. Their entire strategy this year has been to get the Manufacturer’s crown, but right now it seems to be slipping out of their hands.
  • There was a different approach to the Saturday running this year with Panzerplatte and Arena Panzerplatte being run only in the afternoon – meaning all the spectators were forced to go to the Arena. It created massive snakes of traffic with the traffic jam extending for kilometres – indeed all the way back to the morning’s stages as thousands of people deceneded on the Baumholder. With people we talked to, it also didn’t feel like rallying – being stuck in one location all afternoon. Many reported to us that the Arena emptied significantly after the first loop. The thinking of letting people see all the runs and concentrating them has some merit, but perhaps needs a rethink.
  • Rallye Deutschland also seemed to host the international hide-and-seek championships as police helicoptors scoured the vineyards for errant spectaotrs. It was an interesting sight to see and at one point they delayed a stage (Mittelmosel II) when they found spectators in a dangerous spot. You have to congratulate the rally on being safe but it isn’t sustainable for ally rallies and people need to take personal responsibility when spectating. Though the close call from Mads Ostberg when a spectator fell from a wall also suggests care and luck can play a role! Spectator management has no easy solution – but spectators must think for themselves.
  • It was a positive rally for the Belgians with Guilliame de Mevuis showing pace – indeed he was the fastest of the new comers until he made a small mistake – but an encuoraging performance. Equally, it was a good performance for Sebestian Bedroet before crashing on the final Saturday stage. Meanwhile, PJM Cracco was able to gain valueable experience in his first outing in an R5 at a WRC event. He was able to also learn from Lefebvre as they both were in the BMA squad. He finished 15th out of the R5 entries, one place behind Pieter Tsjoen who was out in his PTR Skoda.

Sam Tickell