Published on August 21st, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Master of Faster: Ogier takes the lead at Rally Germany
A good eye for the tyres – and the winner at the end of the day: Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia have moved into the lead at Rally Germany on the back of a performance worthy of world champions. Despite the frequently-changing conditions out on the route, which proved incredibly difficult to predict, they leapfrogged ahead of Volkswagen team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger at the top of the overall standings. They extended their lead to 33.4 seconds and are on course for victory with just 59.26 kilometres of special stage remaining on Sunday.
In contrast, second place at round nine of this season’s FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) is still wide open. Mikkelsen/Jæger have put themselves in pole position, and go into the final day 3.6 seconds clear of Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (Hyundai) and 4.0 seconds ahead of Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai).
Tyre selection for the iconic “Panzerplatte” stage on the Baumholder military training ground, which hosted five of the day’s nine stages, proved to be a major challenge, with a mixture of damp and dry ground in the morning and drying roads on the afternoon loop.
Four times the drivers and co-drivers were faced with the dilemma of whether to put their faith in the harder or softer-compound Michelin competition tyre. Ogier/Ingrassia and Mikkelsen/Jæger opted for completely different strategies. Mikkelsen/Jæger went for an all-soft combination in the morning, with Ogier/Ingrassia adopting that same tactic in the afternoon.
“On the whole, it was a long and tough day of rallying, but I am certainly pleased with our performance. The right tyre selection played a key role. It was very slippery in places, particularly on the long Panzerplatte stage, which meant that the decision to go for soft tyres on the second run was spot on. The lead is reassuring, but we still have about 60 kilometres of special stage in the vineyards ahead of us. We know from experience that anything can happen there,” said Ogier right after his final session.