The Toyota Yaris WRC occupies the top three positions heading into the final day of Rallye Deutschland after mastering the notoriously tough Panzerplatte stages. Ott Tänak leads by 32.4 seconds, with Kris Meeke in second and Jari-Matti Latvala third.
The longest day of the rally consisted of two distinct parts, with smooth country road stages driven during the morning before crews tackled the demanding multi-surface Baumholder military area in the afternoon.
Tänak was able to increase his lead during the morning loop from 2.8 to five seconds, before stage wins on the opening pair of Panzerplatte tests during the afternoon helped him to break clear out front.
Starting the day fourth and fifth respectively, Meeke and Latvala remained firmly in the fight for the podium positions throughout the morning. Demonstrating the strength of the Toyota Yaris WRC on the rough 41.17-kilometre Panzerplatte, they moved up to second and third on the first pass on the stage, and then took a stage win each on the second loop of Baumholder as they strengthened their positions.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge Program driver Takamoto Katsuta continues to learn on his debut in the championship’s highest category, avoiding any major errors on the highly challenging stages to occupy 10th overall.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“It has been a great day for the whole team. We always knew that the stages in the military area would be really important. Our drivers did a brilliant job all day and especially on Panzerplatte to avoid any problems, and our car seems to be really strong there. We are in a really good position now: This would be a great result for us in both championships. But tomorrow is still a difficult day as the vineyard stages are always tricky, so we need to stay focused.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“This morning I was really trying to be close to the limit, but the main thing was to avoid the mistakes and to be clean. In the afternoon, the Baumholder stages were really tricky this year, especially on the second loop when we just had to manage our position. It was so rough, with so many rocks, it was a big challenge to avoid everything. But I tried my best and in the end we managed, but it was a lot of pressure. As a team we have good control of things now, so I believe we just need to work together tomorrow and bring this result home.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“It was a very good day overall. The morning was a bit frustrating as I was thinking too much about the braking, but we had a very good phone call from Tommi after the second stage. He said ‘relax, take it easy, there is no panic, just drive and it will come’ and eventually it happened. Step by step we were improving, my engineer Taavi was giving me tips to get a bit more grip in the car, and in the afternoon I had a really good feeling. The most important thing now is to focus on securing the maximum points for the team.”
Kris Meeke (Driver car 5)
“I was a bit apprehensive this morning because I didn’t know those stages so well, so I was happy to be able to maintain the gap to third place at three seconds. Going to Panzerplatte I knew everything could change, and it was nice to have the pace there. The car felt fantastic this evening. We didn’t change the setup at all for the second loop but the road just cleaned up a bit and I was able to trust the grip a bit more. We still have work to do tomorrow. It’s sitting perfectly for the team but it’s a relatively long loop for a Sunday so we have to be on our game to hold position.”
End of day three (Saturday):
1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2h27m21.9s
2 Kris Meeke/Seb Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +32.4s
3 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +41.8s
4 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m10.8s
5 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m35.2s
6 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger-Amland (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m37.3s
7 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +1m43.1s
8 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +2m09.7s
9 Gus Greensmith/Elliott Edmondson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +6m02.6s
10 Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt (Toyota Yaris WRC) +6m57.4s
(Results as of 20:30 on Saturday, for the latest results please visit www.www.wrc.com)
The rally returns to the vineyards above the Mosel valley for the final four stages, totalling 79.5 kilometres. The Grafschaft and Dhrontal tests will both be run twice, the latter serving as the rally-ending Power Stage.
Key stage: Dhrontal (SS17 & SS19, 11.69 kilometres)
Martin Järveoja (Co-driver car 8): “The Power Stage is a lot shorter than the other stage we’ll drive on Sunday, but it’s still a demanding one. It’s a very twisting stage with lots of hairpins, and a combination of vineyard roads and wider main roads.”
Press release Toyota Gazoo Racing, picture Ludovic Carnal/Sport-Auto.ch