Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala started Sunday's opening stage in Germany with an attempt on the third place of Sebastien Ogier.
The Finn started the test 16.6sec adrift of the Citroen driver, but by the fourth split point he’d reduced the gap by 4.4sec. By the end of the stage, however, he had lost all but two-tenths of that advantage.
Latvala said he was had been too cautious near the end and had struggled with low engine revs in hairpins. Ogier was also having problems in hairpins. The Frenchman reported his C4 WRC was stalling in them - as it had on Friday.
Rally leaders Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo had trouble-free runs through the stage, setting the second and sixth fastest times respectively. Petter Solberg was the stage winner.
Malcolm Wilson moved ahead of Kimi Raikkonen into sixth place after the Finn missed two junctions in the stage.
Swede P-G Andersson lost the lead of the S-WRC competition after breaking a wheel on a kerb. He dropped three minutes changing the wheel, allowing Patrik Sandell, also in a Skoda Fabia S2000, into first place. Martin Prokop is 3.4sec behind in second.
Monster World Rally Team driver Ken Block retired on the road section from the Service Park to the start of Dhrontal. The American was 10km into the 37km journey when his Ford’s alternator belt broke.
After bright sunshine on Friday and Saturday, Sunday dawned partly cloudy and rain had fallen on the stages overnight. The roads had dried by the time drivers started SS14, but further showers are possible later today.
Click: wrc.com/News SS15
Rallye Deutschland leader Sebastien Loeb rounded off Sunday morning's first loop of stages in confident form with a fastest time through Moselwein.
The defending world rally champion’s lead over his Citroen team-mate Dani Sordo stood at exactly 48 seconds as the pair headed back to Trier for a 30 minute service.
With no repeat of the stalling problem that slowed him on SS15, Sebastien Ogier remains third, 1min 22sec behind Sordo but 19sec ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala.
Ford team-leader Mikko Hirvonen dropped more than four minutes on the stage after his Ford Focus RS WRC remained stuck in one gear. The Finn retired on Saturday when the input shaft to his transmission broke. He restarted today as a SuperRally entrant.
Click: wrc.com/News SS16