Craig Breen – Scott Martin and Mads Østberg – Torstein Eriksen set the sixth and ninth fastest times respectively in today’s shakedown, as they used this final practice session to fine-tune the last few details of their preparations. The session also confirmed that this event, renowned for the variety of road surfaces it features, is likely to see small gaps between the leading crews.
Contested on a section of the 2017 Power Stage, this year’s new St. Wendel shakedown, a 5.52 kilometre-long test, enabled the crews to reacquaint themselves with the unusual road surfaces used at this rally.
The tarmac road – strewn with gravel and mud in places – winding through the German countryside, hinted at some of the difficulties expected this weekend and provided Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT with the opportunity to conduct a few final checks of the set-up.
Maintaining his concentration and focus throughout the session, Craig Breen improved on his four attempts, finishing with the sixth fastest time, just 1.4s off the pace.
Meanwhile, Mads Østberg – still learning about the C3 WRC on tarmac and not having raced on the surface since last year’s Rally de Catalunya – set about getting his bearings. His fifth and final run took him into ninth position on the timesheets, 2.5s off the fastest time, after a useful morning’s work.
St. Wendel will equally be used for the opening super special stage (2.04km), also new this year. The first big test of the weekend comes on Friday, with tomorrow’s opening day seeing the crews fight it out on narrow and twisting roads (101.42km over six stages) through the Mosel vineyards.
Craig Breen : “Today’s final practice session went well for us, although the road became very dirty with mud and gravel early on. We used the session to confirm some set-up ideas and I felt confident in the car. I can’t wait to get started. I hope that the sun stays out so we can really enjoy these stages in the vineyards tomorrow, where you really need to keep it very clean and tidy.”
Mads Østberg : “I’m still getting to grips with the C3 WRC on tarmac. Every kilometre driven in the car helps me to feel more comfortable. In any case, this session was very instructive, especially as regards finding the set-up that suits me. I know the roads pretty well so it’s now down to me to up my pace gradually.”
Tänak / Jarveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:52.9
Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:53.1
Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2:53.5
Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:53.6
Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:53.8
Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) 2:54.3
Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2:54.3
Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:54.7
Ostberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 WRC) 2:55.4
Suninen / Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2:55.9
Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:57.3