Ott Tänak (EST) remains the dominant force at the ADAC Rallye Deutschland in his Toyota Yaris WRC. Saturday featured eight special stages (SS), and the early stages saw 2017 and 2018 winner Tänak go head to head with Thierry Neuville (BEL) in what was developing into a thrilling battle. However, a puncture on the Belgian's Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC in the afternoon put the championship leader from Estonia firmly in the driving seat. Going into the final day, the 31-year-old has a lead of more than 30 seconds over his closest rivals, fellow Toyota drivers Kris Meeke (GBR) and Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) in second and third place.
Dani Sordo (ESP) produced an eye-catching performance on the day's opening stage: After suffering gearbox damage on the final stage on Friday, the Hyundai driver launched his fightback on Saturday morning with the fastest time on the Freisen 1 stage. Tänak was then unbeatable on the subsequent Römerstrasse 1, while Neuville dropped roughly five seconds. However, the Belgian did close the gap again with wins on the following two stages (SS Freisen 2, SS Römerstrasse 2).
The battle between Tänak and Neuville was the main attraction again in the afternoon, much to the delight of the large crowds enjoying the glorious summer temperatures on the Baumholder military training area. Tänak underlined his credentials for overall victory with the fastest time on the opening stage, the shorter Arena Panzerplatte. However, the duel came to a premature end on the subsequent, 41.17-kilometre SS Panzerplatte: A puncture forced the Belgian, who was setting fastest splits at the time, into a tyre change, resulting in him dropping from second to seventh place. Tänak was then happy to manage his lead in the two evening stages at the military training area. Separated by a matter of seconds, the chasing trio of Ogier, Meeke and Latvala continued to push hard, as they looked to establish good positions in the fight for the podium. In doing so, Ogier picked up a puncture on the final stage, which cost the world champion over 90 seconds.
Kopecký takes the lead in WRC 2 PRO
In the WRC 2 PRO class, overnight leader Kalle Rovanperä (FIN) suffered a bitter set-back: The championship leader's Skoda Fabia R5 evo came off the road on the opening stage of the day, resulting in a big time loss. Ahead of the final day, all the signs now point towards victory in Germany for his team-mate Jan Kopecký (CZE).
German one-two in WRC 2
In WRC 2, the morning's big winners were German Skoda drivers Fabian Kreim and Marijan Griebel: They started the day in third and fourth place, but problems for Stephane Lefebvre (FRA) and Nicolas Ciamin (FRA) soon made it a German one-two at the top of the standings. The two team-mates defended their positions on the Panzerplatte stages. With just four stages to come on Sunday, Kreim now holds a 16.9-second lead over Griebel, who has an advantage of 8.5 seconds over his closest rival.