WRC - Rally Catalunya: Volkswagen close to another 1-2-3 finish
Volkswagen Motorsport’s Sebastien Ogier was fastest on five of eight Saturday’s special stages of RallyRACC Catalunya-Costa Daurada and finished the day with almost a minute advantage ahead team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen. Six more stages are scheduled for tomorrow, if positions remain unchanged it will be 1-2-3 victory for Volkswagen fourth time this season. Only driver who can fight against Volkswagens tomorrow are Hyundai’s Dani Sordo, who finished the day 4.5s behind Mikkelsen.
Ogier started the day with four seconds advantage over Latvala and increased the gap to 11 seconds after two stage wins. Ogier was fastest again on the next stage (SS12), on which Latvala hit a rock on the inside of a corner and damaged a wheel. He lost over 50 seconds and dropped to fourth, behind Sordo and Mikkelsen. Thanks to three fastest times in later stages Latvala recovered and came back to second.
M-Sport’s Ott Tanak, who started third on Saturday morning, crashed on second stage of the day. His crash and Latvala’s incident promoted Dani Sordo to second place. Spanish driver in front of Spanish crowd was second for two stages, but he couldn’t resist to Volkswagen’s drivers, so Mikkelsen and Latvala passed him in the afternoon loop.
M-Sport had an awful day because after Tanak’s crash on SS 11 they lost another car on SS13, when Elfyn Evans went off road and stucked in a ditch. Those crashes most probably eliminated the British squad from the fight for second place in the Manufacturers’ championship. Battle for second will be interesting because all Citroen’s and Hyundai’s driver are still in the Top 10 – Sordo is 4th, Meeke 5th, Ostberg 6th and Neuville 7th. If positions remained unchanged they will have exact number of points ahead last round of the championship. Hayden Paddon shared 7th place with Neuville, but it’s hard to believe that he will attack his team-mate because Belgian driver is eligible to score points for Hyundai’s first team.
Martin Prokop (Ford) and Pontus Tidemand (Škoda) rounded Top 10 in overall classification after 17 stages. Tidemand is the leader of WRC2 classification, half a minute ahead team-mate Jan Kopecky. Eric Camilli (Ford) is third, more than two minutes ahead of WRC2 championship leader Nasser Al-Attiyah (Škoda). If Al-Attiyah finished fourth, twelve points wouldn’t be enough to take the title this weekend, despite his biggest oponnent Esapekka Lappi crashed on second stage of the day.
Quentin Gilbert, who was already clinched 2015 Junior WRC title, dominating at Catalunya with minute and a half advantage ahead Terry Folb. In Drive Dmack Fiesta Trophy, Marius Aasen has taken a step closer to the series win. After finishing Friday’s gravel loop on top, he has also dominated his rivals on asphalt. Second-placed Tom Cave is around 30s back.
Sunday’s six stages are totalling 76.40 kilometres and will be run without any opportunity to service. The first car will pull out of Salou at 6am local time, but tonight’s clock-change will give the crews a welcome extra hour in bed.
Check all the result at SnapLap result pages.
Photo: Volkswagen Motorsport, RallyingUK