Before the start of Rally Germany many were expecting Sebastien Ogier to wrap up the title with a few events to spare, but it was Jari-Matti Latvala who stepped up to the plate following Ogier’s departure off-road on day two.
Damaged suspension saw the Frenchman retire and rejoin on Saturday under Rally 2 regulations, instantly taking two stage wins, but the 25 minutes of penalty time meant he was way back in 25th place – a world away from the leading pack of Latvala, Neuville and Sordo. Latvala maintained his position throughout the day – despite clipping a massive concrete block in a forest section.
Things later deteriorated for Volkswagen after the damage to Latvala’s Polo meant that his co-driver Anttila had to hold the passenger door closed during stage 12. Communication problems contributed to Latvala sliding off the track and tearing his rear brake off, forcing him to pull out of the rally before returning in seventh place on Sunday, while Ogier finished the day in 24th. Thierry Neuville went off at the same rain-soaked left bend, but moved to the head of the field after completing the stage with a log jammed beneath his Fiesta. The second loop of the ‘Arena Panzerplatte’ stage was cancelled following a fatal accident during the historic rally being held in the forest.
Sunday saw a tense duel between Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville, with Sordo pulling out a slender lead early on. Brake and set-up problems for Neuville affected his performance, but he held on to second place behind the Spaniard, who secured the first victory of his 10-year WRC career. Mikko Hirvonen ran a steady rally to make it two Citroen’s on the podium, while Ogier and Latvala could only manage 16th and 7th, but did win three bonus points and one point respectively following the final Dhrontal Power Stage. Sordo split the Volkswagen pair with two points.
The third Polo of Andreas Mikkelsen was withdrawn due to co-driver being diagnosed with a fractured seventh vertebra and partially fractured eighth vertebra, presumably caused during Rally Finland three weeks ago.
2013 Rally Germany results
1. D Sordo Citroen 3h15m19.4s
2. T Neuville M-Sport Ford +53.0s
3. M Hirvonen Citroen +2m36.1s
4. M Prokop Czech Ford +8m00.8s
5. R Kubica PH Citroen +9m01.3s*
6. E Evans M-Sport Ford +9m14.2s*
7. J Latvala VW +9m55.0s
8. H Paddon ASM Skoda +13m01.2s*
9. M Ostberg M-Sport Ford +13m28.1s
10. E Novikov M-Sport Ford +15m17.9s
[Source: Volkswagen Motorsport]