Munich/St. Wendel. The winner of the 2018 ADAC Rallye Deutschland is Ott Tänak (EST). In front of crowds of 226,000, the 30-year-old Estonian claimed his second victory in a row in Germany. This win gave the Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT team its first success at the German round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Thierry Neuville (BEL), in a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, ended round nine of the season in second place, 39.2 seconds behind Tänak's Toyota Yaris WRC. The Belgian extended his championship lead over reigning champion Sébastien Ogier (FRA), who finished fourth. The third spot on the podium at the ADAC Rallye Deutschland went to Finland's Esapekka Lappi (Toyota Yaris WRC).
Marijan Griebel also had reason to celebrate: the local favourite finished ninth in a Citroën DS3 WRC, making him the best-placed German at his home rally and earning the 29-year-old the first world championship points of his career. His compatriot Fabian Kreim finished fourth in the WRC 2 class in his Skoda Fabia R5. 12th place overall also represents the 25-year-old's best result at the ADAC Rallye Deutschland. Fellow Skoda driver Jan Kopecký (CZE) took victory in the WRC 2 class, which went right down to the wire.
Fans on the 18 special stages (SS) in Saarland and the surrounding regions witnessed a thrilling rally. Tänak was on sparkling form from the word go, winning Thursday's opening spectator stage in St. Wendel to take an early lead. Last year's winner tightened his grip on the top spot on Friday's stages in the vineyards and at the Baumholder military training ground on Saturday. Only world champion Ogier was able to stay in touch with the Estonian. However, the Frenchman's challenge faded on Saturday afternoon, when he suffered a puncture and lost time and places on the Panzerplatte 2 stage.
On the final day, the long and demanding Grafschaft stage produced some dramatic changes in the overall standings: running second at the time, Hyundai driver Dani Sordo (ESP) dropped down the leaderboard when he came off the road on the first pass of the vineyard stage. Shortly before that, third-placed Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) was forced to park his Toyota Yaris WRC at the side of the road with gearbox damage. Mads Østberg (NOR) also retired on the opening stage of the day after crashing his Citroën C3 WRC. World championship leader Neuville held his nerve to take the stage win. Ogier set the fastest time when the remaining competitors returned to Grafschaft later in the morning.
Tänak wrapped up his second win at the ADAC Rallye Deutschland on the closing Bosenberg stage. The valuable bonus points up for grabs on the Power Stage went to stage winner Ogier (5 points), Tänak (4 points), Lappi (3 points), Craig Breen (2 points) and Neuville (1 point).
Ott Tänak: "After my win on gravel in Finland, this victory on asphalt in Germany is a great success for us. It was really tough to win here. Seb [Ogier] was really pushing us hard and it was tough to keep up with him. In the end, we came out on top. That is what matters."
ADAC Sports President, Hermann Tomczyk, looked back on a successful event: "We have enjoyed a wonderful 2018 ADAC Rallye Deutschland. The changes, with the start and finish in St. Wendel, have delighted fans, as have tried-and-tested elements like the rally festival at the Panzerplatte. The conclusion, with the difficult vineyard stages, once again provided extra excitement. The great reception from all sides confirms that our concept of a compact and spectator-friendly rally is the right one. I would like to thank the entire organisational team, the event partners, the exemplary fans and, of course, the volunteers who have helped to make the 2018 ADAC Rallye Deutschland such a success."
Provisional result after 18 special stages:
1. Tänak/Järveoja (EST/EST) Toyota Yaris WRC 3h 03m 36.9s
2. Neuville/Gilsoul (BEL/BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC + 0:39.2s
3. Lappi/Ferm (FIN/FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC + 1m 00.9s
4. Ogier/Ingrassia (FRA/FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC + 1m 34.5s
5. Suninen/Markkula (FIN/FIN) Ford Fiesta WRC + 2m 02.9s
6. Mikkelsen/Jæger (NOR/NOR) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC + 2m 13.8s
8. Griebel/Rath (DEU/DEU) Citroën DS3 WRC + 10m 41.8s
12. Kreim/Christian (DEU/DEU) Skoda Fabia R5 + 14m 03.7s
21. Schwedt/Gerlich (DEU/DEU) Peugeot 208 R5 + 29m 00.8s
Fastest stage times:
Tänak 6, Ogier 4, Sordo 3, Latvala 2, Neuville 1, Lappi 1, Breen 1
Tänak SS1, Ogier SS2, Tänak SS3-18 (finish)
Drivers’ standings FIA World Rally Championship 2018 (after 9 of 13 rounds):
1. Neuville 172 points
2. Ogier 149 points
3. Tänak 136 points
4. Lappi 88 points
5. Mikkelsen 65 points
6. Sordo 60 points
7. Latvala 55 points
8. Evans 52 points
9. Østberg 48 points
10. Breen 47 points
Manufacturers’ standings FIA World Rally Championship 2018 (after 9 of 13 rounds):
1. Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team 254 points
2. Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 241 points
3. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 224 points
4. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 159 points