Ogier appears to be too strong, but all is not over yet
Today’s second leg of Rally Germany is just monstrous and I mean it in a good way. Two runs over 45.6 kilometer Panzerplatte Long should be enough for anyone looking for a properly massive challenge on tarmac, surface we see a bit too little of in the WRC. This is not the first or the only marathon stage in the championship, but we don’t see many of those done more than once per day or event. Here we’ll have crews tackle it once again later today, together with three other stages remaining in day 2 of this event. It’s a loop of over 80 kilometers and they already had even more of the same for breakfast. Meaning all is not over yet, far from it, even though Sebastien Ogier did set some stunning stage times this morning. His advantage over Jari-Matti Latvala grew to 18 and a half seconds, but with plenty of kilometers still to go anything could happen. Latvala, on the other hand, complained about the car being too stiff in his opinion, which led him to lose confidence and consequently seconds on the long stage of the first loop. He may be over 18 seconds behind Ogier now, but if Jari-Matti can sort his suspension and then confidence issues he should be able to keep the pressure on Ogier. For those two, I don’t see the fight is over, unless Latvala decides to settle for the points instead, which I don’t think he will do just yet.
Fortunately, we also have few other battles to enjoy further down the classification list. Dani Sordo managed to move ahead of his team mate and Hyundai’s no. 1 driver Thierry Neuville – only 6,7 seconds separates them in a battle for 4th place while Mads Ostberg in his Citroën is just half a second behind M-Sport’s Ott Tanak, who holds on to 7th position.
If we want more, let’s keep an eye on Hayden Paddon, who is learning by working hard, getting to know this event and how to work with the car on challenging German tarmac. Paddon dropped down to 9th position after a difficult run through Panzerplatte Long, but let’s see if any lessons learned this morning can be put to good use for some encouraging stage times in the second loop.