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It's time for Rally in Germany!

Name: ADAC Rallye Deutschland 2015
Dates: 20-23/8/2015
Location: Trier
Distance: 1227 km
Stages: 21

Rally Germany is the first tarmac rally since Monte Carlo. Usually the weather is playing a big role during the rally. There is a mix of everything in this rally, some stages in vineyeards, some in normal tarmac roads and some in military area, like the famous Baumholder, where there is everything you can ever imagine for a stage, normal tarmac, rough/aggressive tarmac, concrete, some gravel even. A real challenge for the drivers. Since 2002 there have only been 3 winners in this rally, Sebastian Loeb won 10 times in a row, then Dani Sordo won 2013 and Thierry Neuville 2014. This is the home rally of Volkswagen, who surely want to win this time, as last year was a nightmare for them.

I have done the rally twice myself, in 2002 I finished 2nd in group N after leading for a longtime, but eventually got a puncture mid rally and just missed out in the end and 2003 I finished 10th overall in a Mitsubishi WRC Step 2. It’s a really an interesting and challenging rally.

What is also different in tarmac rallies is that there is allowed so called Gravel Crew, let me explain that shortly.

Gravel Crew: After drivers have done recce for the stages twice, the notes are copied and a crew, normally also driver and co-driver (who might have stopped carrier) will drive the stages  on the morning before drivers go there. This used to be in all rallies, but these days only in tarmac rallies. Their most important thing is to mark any possible chances there might have come after the drivers have done recce. Especially if there is rain, there might be standing water in the middle of a corner or mud under braking etc.. All this information is crucial to drivers attacking the stages. Their work is really important and they need to know what info the driver really wants and needs and this is talked before naturally. Experienced gravel crew can be a very big help for drivers. Also they give last information to the team about weather, as the tire choice is crucial. There is only two options: hard or soft, so not that hard, but still is as the drivers need to 3-5 stages with the tires and f.ex it might be damp/wet in some area and dry in some. Gravel crews also drive the stages after they have been done once, and then there is even more places to mark, as drivers are cutting corners, so there is gravel/mud etc.. gravel crew need to understand again, what will come in to play and what info driver wants..

My prediction of top 8 in the Germany Rally:
1. Meeke
- Was in very good speed in Finland and also last year in Germany. Needs to get really strong results to keep his seat for 2016. The speed is there but can he handle the pressure?

2. Ogier
- Had a massive crash here last year, but will be very strong. One of the biggest, if not biggest favourite to win here. He has made mistakes during the last 2 years so...

3. Latvala
- His confidence is high again after a great drive in Finland. He managed to beat Ogier with driving. Mentally he is not as strong, but if he can get "under his skin" like he did in Finland, there is a chance.

4. Sordo
- Totally lost in last gravel rallies. He is trying, but maybe trying even to hard. This rally is very important for him as he needs to get results. He has a contract for 2016, but surely if results don't get better his seat might be in doubt.

5. Kubica
- I believe he will be fastest Ford driver, but can he keep it together. If he can there might be a chance for a surprise, but not enough for a win. 3-6.

6. Neuville
- Has been totally lost for last 3 rallies, even if got an OK result in Finland. Outpaced by his young teammate. His confidence is low, but won here last year and he is a very brave driver. Outsider chance.

7. Paddon
- The star of the year so far. After a great result in Sardinia, gained a lot of confidence, team noticed his potential and are giving him a lot of seat time in testing. Not a lot of experience in Germany, but still fighting for 5-8.

8. Ostberg
- Good result in Finland, but tarmac is not his best surface. Will be fighting for points.

Kind rally regards,
Kristian Solberg