Rally Germany: Neuville tops shakedown

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Championship leader Thierry Neuville was fastest in Rally Germany shakedown on Thursday morning.

The Belgian was quickest through the mainly dry 4.09km Eiweiler test by 0.9sec from Andreas Mikkelsen, who returns to the Citroën Abu Dhabi squad after missing last month’s encounter in Finland.

Sébastien Ogier, who is tied with Neuville at the top of the points, was third fastest. The M-Sport World Rally Team pilot has a new Ford Fiesta at his disposal this weekend, his third new car of the campaign.

Neuville’s pace-setting time came in his first run. He completed three more in his Hyundai i20, opting for Michelin’s hard compound tyres in the first two and softer rubber for the final two as he looked ahead to tomorrow’s opening leg when rain is forecast.

“The road was quite clean to start with but I was on hard tyres, so still a good time,” he said. “I made a couple of small changes for the final runs to try for wet conditions and find some traction.

“The road became dirty. It was a particular part of the stage in the forest which was very dirty, but the rest was OK,” Neuville added.

All the leading drivers except Ott Tänak and Hayden Paddon set their benchmark time during the first pass. Conditions worsened as cars dragged and mud and stones onto the asphalt and the times slowed.

Ogier missed a hairpin during his first run but was fastest in the second pass, 1.4sec clear of Craig Breen’s Citroën C3

Kris Meeke was fourth in his C3, with Breen and Jari-Matti Latvala’s Toyota Yaris filling the rest of the top six.

Leading times:

1. Thierry Neuville Hyundai i20 2min 25.8sec
2. Andreas Mikkelsen Citroën C3 2min 26.7sec
3. Sébastien Ogier Ford Fiesta 2min 27.0sec
4. Kris Meeke Citroën C3 2min 28.2sec
5. Craig Breen Citroën C3 2min 29.1sec
6. Jari-Matti Latvala Toyota Yaris 2min 29.6sec
7. Juho Hänninen Toyota Yaris 2min 30.0sec
8. Dani Sordo Hyundai i20 2min 30.1sec
9. Ott Tänak Ford Fiesta 2min 31.8 sec
10. Elfyn Evans Ford Fiesta 2min 32.4sec