TRIER (Germany) – Dani Sordo was the World Rally Championship’s ‘nearly’ man after 34 podiums from 106 starts. However, the 30-year-old Spaniard came good to beat Thierry Neuville by 53.0sec following a gripping final stage showdown that was only settled when the Belgian went off the road 3km from the finish.
After the demise of early leader Sebastien Ogier, who broke his Volkswagen Polo R’s suspension after crashing early in the second leg, team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala was in the lead with Sordo and Neuville duelling behind.
The Belgian had the better of Friday’s second leg to build a 19.0sec advantage. Yesterday however, the roles were reversed, and when Latvala crashed, 2005 junior world champion Sordo managed to end the penultimate day with a lead of just 0.8sec to set up today’s thrilling showdown.
The Spaniard started the final Dhrontal test in the narrow and twisty Mosel vineyards with a 3.0 sec advantage in his Citroen DS3. He stretched his lead in the early part of the 24.58km stage before Neuville fought back during what had been a superb run of results in his first full WRC season with two seconds and a third before this event. The duo were tied at the final split point with just over 4km remaining, but Neuville’s hopes were dashed when his Ford Fiesta RS went off the road.
“It’s a great moment for me,” said an emotional Sordo. “Thierry was pushing so hard. He was a little slower than me at first but then he was faster so I needed to push harder. I was so nervous at the start but this win is something I’ve dreamed of for many years.”
Sordo’s victory after four-days and 371.86km of asphalt action in south-west Germany means Citroen maintained its unblemished record here having won every year since the rally entered the championship in 2002. Mikko Hirvonen finished third in another DS3, 1min 43.1sec behind Neuville, sealing Citroen’s strong performance.
Sebastien Ogier salvaged three points by winning the final Power Stage and the Frenchman holds a 75 point lead in the drivers’ standings over Neuville. Latvala is third, 11 points behind, with four rounds remaining in this year’s WRC.
Source: Red Bull Motorsports