WRC - Rally Catalunya: Ogier on top after four lead changes
Sebastien Ogier (Volkswagen Motorsport) is the overnight leader of the Rally RACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada, the penultimate round of the World Rally Championship, after four lead changes during eight special stages on Friday. Ogier’s team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala is four seconds off the lead, while third placed Ott Tanak (M-Sport) is 11.3 seconds slower than Ogier.
Six different drivers scored wins in the special stages so far, with shared victories at two stages. Ott Tanak was the fastest three times, Sebastien Ogier, Robert Kubica and Mads Ostberg have won twice, Hayden Paddon and Jari-Matti Latvala scored one stage win each.
Ogier started the day as a leader after Thursday’s win in the super special stage on the streets of Barcelona, but he lost the lead after SS3 from Robert Kubica. The former F1 driver was hit by a double puncture at SS5 and Ogier again jumped to the lead, but not for long.
Latvala took the lead after SS6 and he was leading through the next two stages. On the last and longest stage of the day, at the 35.68-km long Terra Alta, Ogier was 7.2 seconds faster than Latvala and took the overall lead one more time.
Hyundai’s Dani Sordo had a consistent day holding fourth place, 26.9secs off the lead and 2.8secs ahead of the fifth placed Mads Østberg. The Norwegian won two stages in Citroën’s DS 3 and held second position until a slow puncture cost him nearly 30 seconds. Andreas Mikkelsen was sixth, less than a second ahead of Hayden Paddon, whose pace placed him third this morning. Kris Meeke, Thierry Neuville and Elfyn Evans completed the Top 10.
Robert Kubica led for two stages in his Fiesta RS and showed once more that he can be at the top, but his good pace was ruined by some mistakes, punctures and technical issues. He confessed that he caused one puncture but didn’t know the cause of the second puncture.
The biggest disappointment followed at the last stage when Fiesta’s gearbox jammed in the first. Cubic lost over eight minutes in total and finished the day at the 23rd place. One more WRC driver had a disappointing day – Lorenzo Bertelli, who retired after rolling in the opening stage of the day.
In the WRC2 category, we saw the domination of drivers with Škoda Fabia R5 cars. Pontus Tidemand won six of the eight of Friday’s stages and is leading with a 33.7 seconds gap ahead of Jan Kopecký. His Title-chasing team-mate Esapekka Lappi was in third place, a further 5.7sec behind. Championship leader Nasser Al-Attiyah, for the first time in a Fabia R5, was fourth with a 1m43s gap. The best non-Fabia driver is Eric Camilli with Ford Fiesta R5.
New Junior WRC champion Quentin Gilbert is the leader of this category, in which all drivers have Citroen DS3 R3T machines. Simone Tempestini is 10 seconds slower, while all others are far behind. Marius Aasen is leading the Drive Dmack classification ahead Tom Cave and Brenda Reeves.
At the end of the day, the teams had an extended 75 minute service in which they transformed their cars from gravel to asphalt specifications for the final two days. Tomorrow brings eight tarmac stages, three of which are driven twice, covering 123.05km.
Photo: WRC.com, Michelin