Dani Sordo knew that his future in the World Rally Championship depended on his performance in the Rally Deutschland, and with that weighing on his mind, the Spanish Citroën driver went on to claim his first WRC victory. He had to hold off a hard-charging Thierry Neuville, who came home in second place 53 seconds behind Sordo, but the battle between the two was an intense one.
At the beginning of the final day, Sordo and Neuville were a mere 0.8 seconds apart, and both were gunning for their first WRC victory – especially Sordo, who has been on the podium 34 times but never on the top step, until now. The two were close throughout the rally, but with Sordo having pulled out a lead of a couple of seconds, Neuville had an off that cost him just under a minute, which is what the eventual winning margin would be. Despite this, Sordo is still being substituted by Kris Meeke for the next rally in Australia.
Both Volkswagens led their home rally at various times, but both also managed to crash out while at the front of the pack. With six wins in eight rallies and two podiums, this marks the first time the German manufacturer has had both cars outside the top three for the whole season. Sébastien Ogier, championship leader and owner of five of those six VW wins, was pulling away on Friday morning when he crashed, leaving team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala in the lead. Then the pressure was put on by Neuville and Latvala managed to damage his car in his attempt to push hard.
VW didn’t even have Andreas Mikkelsen competing in the rally, as his co-driver, Mikko Markkula, injured his back, so it really was a rally the team will want to forget. It wasn’t all that different for Neuville’s M-Sport team, as his team-mates, Mads Ostberg, Evgeny Novikov and Nasser Al-Attiyah, all crashed out of the Really Deutschland and had to return under Rally2.
With such a high rate of attrition, that also meant is that a brilliant battle for the lead in the WRC2 standings between former F1 driver Robert Kubica and Elfyn Evans also became the battle for fifth overall. That battle, which saw the lead swap four times, was ultimately won by Kubica, who now leads the WRC2 standings.
Next time out the WRC circus will head to Australia’s fast and dusty stages in mid-September. Watch out for Kris Meeke, who will be looking to secure his future with Citroën. And, of course, after the German outing, VW will no doubt also be looking to prove a point.
Results 1. Dani Sordo Citroën 3:15:19.4 2. Thierry Neuville Ford +53.0 3. Mikko Hirvonen Citroën +2:36.1 4. Martin Prokop Ford +8:00.8 5. Robert Kubica Citroën +9:01.3 6. Elfyn Evans Ford +9:14.2 7. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen +9:55.0 8. Hayden Paddon Skoda +13:01.2 9. Mads Ostberg Ford +13:28.1 10. Evgeny Novikov Ford +15:17.9