WRC'15 Rally Spain Oct 22-25, talk results spoiler **
Rnd 12 - WRC Spain - RACC Catalunya Oct 22-25
First run in 1957 and included in the European Championship from 1975.
Entered the WRC in 1991 when it was based on the Costa Brava in Lloret de Mar.
Relocated to Salou in 2002 and after being a pure asphalt event, it developed into a mixed surface event in 2010.
Sebastien Loeb dominated the rally, winning every year between 2005 and 2012.
What's new for 2015
Seven new stages raises the total to 23.
No mid-leg service in Friday's opening leg.
Duesaigues replaces Riudecanyes as Sunday's live TV Power Stage
Watch at the famous El Molar hairpin on Saturday. After a long straight, cars negotiate a tight hairpin right before accelerating away down another straight. Huge crowds and a great atmosphere.
The service park is based at PortAventura theme park. Drop in for a ride on Europe's tallest and fastest roller coasters.
Hayden Paddon celebrated signing a new three-year deal with Hyundai by setting fastest time in shakedown at RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada in Spain on Thursday morning.
The Kiwi powered his i20 World Rally Car through the mixed surface 2.94km Salou stage two-tenths of a second quicker than S?bastien Ogier’s Volkswagen Polo R, with Robert Kubica a further tenth back in a Ford Fiesta RS.
“Although the stage wasn’t representative of the rally it was a good chance to check the car was working and, as we’re back on loose surfaces, to make sure the set-up from Australia is working well,” said Paddon, whose new deal was confirmed on Monday.
“We’ll push hard on the gravel tomorrow. We have a good road position so we need to ensure we make the most of that and try to be near the front. When we get to the asphalt we’ll focus on learning as much as we can. We’ll struggle to be as competitive there but we need to start somewhere.”
Ott Tanak was fourth in a Fiesta RS, with Dani Sordo’s i20 and Jari-Matti Latvala’s Polo R completing the top six.
Kris Meeke was 15sec off the pace in Citro?n’s DS 3 as he focused on scrubbing tyres ahead of tonight’s asphalt street stage in Barcelona. The Ulsterman entertained fans by completing donuts around the mid-stage roundabout where the surface switched from gravel to asphalt.
Team-mate Khalid Al Qassimi clipped a chicane but the damage was limited to bodywork only.
Robert Kubica does not expect to contest another WRC season in 2016 after admitting he is looking at other activities - including a return to circuit racing.
In Spain, before this week's RallyRACC Catalunya-Costa Daurada, Kubica revealed that he was after a fresh challenge, but wasn't yet sure what it would be.
"Three years ago I came back after the accident and I was looking for a new challenge – rallying was a very big challenge. Next year is the time to have something different and I’ll probably end up doing some different things and maybe the rally as well," he said.
Kubica has endured two difficult seasons at the WRC's highest level and his best result remains the sixth place he secured at Rally Argentina in 2014. He split from M-Sport to run his own privateer team this year, but this failed to turn around his fortunes.
"There is no decision yet, but the reality is that we have to review some things. If I'm doing rallies next year, I would like to concentrate on less events. With our budget and other resources it is the only way. Less events would help us to prepare properly," he told wrc.com.
"It all depends on what will be my main programme. I don't exclude circuits, and if that happens then I don't exclude the chance of doing some rallies just to enjoy and have fun.
"I don't want to lose the experiences I have learned this year, but there is no point to continue how we are now. For now my plan is 90 per cent to do Monte Carlo and then see. I am not in a rush. If there are good possibilities to do rallies I will take them. If not I will find something else to do."
Sebastien Ogier blitzed his rivals to win Thursday night’s opening speed test of RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada in Barcelona.
Last to start of the top seeds, Ogier headed long-time leader Thierry Neuville by 2.1sec through the 3.20km asphalt stage in a Volkswagen Polo R, with team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen a further 0.8sec behind.
“It’s good to start like this but at the last round in Corsica we started in the lead but the rest of the weekend wasn’t good. The rally really starts tomorrow but it was nice to be here in front of a huge crowd. It was a clean drive and I’m going to go for it tomorrow,” said Ogier.
Neuville’s time was surprising as the Belgian had no handbrake to help guide his Hyundai i20 around the tight hairpin bends.
Mikkelsen admitted to a couple of small mistakes but the Norwegian was four-tenths of a second ahead of Kris Meeke’s DS 3, with Robert Kubica and Mads Ostberg completing the top six.
Kubica believed he may have accidentally knocked his Ford Fiesta RS out of stage mode and into road format shortly before the finish. “I went into a corner and then there was no power for the last 300 metres, like no anti-lag,” said the Pole.
Lorenzo Bertelli reported a gearshift problem in his Fiesta RS while Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, one of six drivers chasing the WRC 2 title, failed to start the stage with a power steering issue. Yazeed Al-Rajhi withdrew before the start after falling ill during the recce.
After overnighting in Salou, drivers face eight predominantly gravel stages tomorrow covering 128.60km.
Robert Kubica was the surprise leader of Spain’s RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada after Friday morning’s opening two predominantly gravel stages.
The Pole, fifth after last night’s curtain-raising test in Barcelona, was third through Mora d’Ebre – Asco in his Ford Fiesta RS to climb to second. He then won Caseres to move into a 3.6sec lead over an equally impressive Mads Ostberg.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for Kubica though. “We had a few issues, it’s difficult to get a clean stage. The car was sliding and I’ve been locking all four wheels in braking. In low speed corners I struggled a lot,” he said.
Ostberg tied with Hayden Paddon at the top of the timesheets in Mora d'Ebre – Asc? to climb from an overnight sixth into third, before gaining another place with second in Caseres.
“I pushed very hard at the beginning, but struggled a bit towards the end because I had two soft tyres on the back and they overheated, so I lost the rhythm,” said the Norwegian after SS3.
Paddon was second in Caseres to trail Kubica by 5.9sec overall in a Hyundai i20, with overnight leader Sebastien Ogier fourth in his Volkswagen Polo R.
Loose gravel made conditions slippery for the early starters who cleaned the tracks to the benefit of those further back. Road opener Ogier suffered most and said: “It’s a real challenge. I expected SS3 to be a bit better but it was still very slippery. I did my best and couldn’t have gone any better. I knew we would lose time.”
Ott Tanak and Dani Sordo were fourth and fifth in both tests to hold fifth and sixth overall.
The only driver to encounter problems was Italian Lorenzo Bertelli who rolled his Ford Fiesta RS into retirement just 2.8km into SS2.
Sebastien Ogier led team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala by eight-tenths of a second after a dramatic end to Friday morning’s stages at Spain’s RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada.
The two Volkswagen Polo R drivers were sixth and seventh heading into the demanding mixed surface Terra Alta stage. But the leaderboard turned upside down in the longest stage of this penultimate round of the WRC season.
Latvala was fastest by 4.1sec from Ogier, the disadvantage of running first and second in the start order on slippery gravel more than compensated for by the mid-stage asphalt. Both enjoyed a clean run on the sealed surface section while those behind struggled for grip as the early starters dragged dirt and stones onto the road.
“Towards the end it started to get quite difficult with the tyres but I think we managed it quite well. I drove completely differently this time to last year. The car set-up is changed and my approach to corners is a lot more brave,” said Latvala.
Robert Kubica and Mads Ostberg topped the leaderboard going into the stage. However, Kubica changed a puncture shortly after the start and picked up another on the rear left near the finish.
“I’m unsure if I had a puncture before the corner but I went into a flat right bend with massive oversteer and hit the bank. We couldn’t get the wheel on the hub and when we were back in the car the marshal stopped us as Stephane Lefebvre was coming,” said Kubica.
Ostberg drove the final 13km with a slow puncture at the rear right of Citroen’s DS 3. He dropped almost 30sec to slip to fifth.
Ott Tanak won the Bot test and third in Terra Alta promoted the Estonian to third in a Ford Fiesta RS, just 2.5sec off the lead. He was 7.2sec clear of Dani Sordo, whose consistent morning ended with third and fourth fastest times in his Hyundai i20.
Hayden Paddon struggled for grip near the finish and dropped from third to sixth, just ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen, who had brake problems in the last section. Elfyn Evans, Kris Meeke and Thierry Neuville completed the leaderboard, Neuville stalling his i20 twice.
Jari-Matti Latvala became Friday’s third different leader of Spain’s RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada when he relegated team-mate Sebastien Ogier out of pole position.
The Finn moved to the front in his Volkswagen Polo R on the repeat of the Mora d'Ebre - Asco test. Second fastest in the following Caseres enabled Latvala to head off to the final two stages of the first full day of action with a 1.6sec advantage.
But it wasn’t Ogier in second. Ott Tanak won SS6 in a Ford Fiesta RS and fourth fastest in the next stage put the Estonian 1.2sec clear of Ogier.
Higher temperatures and rougher gravel roads than this morning’s opening pass made tyre management of paramount importance with the tough 35.68km Terra Alta stage to follow later today.
“The grip was high but it was hard on the tyres. We were playing with them,” said Latvala, whose comment was typical of most drivers.
Mads Ostberg, who dropped to fifth after a puncture this morning, was fastest through Caseres in Citroen’s DS 3 to close to within 5.3sec of fourth-placed Dani Sordo’s Hyundai i20.
Thierry Neuville produced his best performance of the rally with third in Caseres. The Belgian tweaked the ride height on his i20 during the mid-leg break and although that improved the feeling, Neuville felt the rear differential settings were affecting the handling.
Sebastien Ogier battled back to lead Spain’s RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada after Friday’s enthralling leg in which the lead changed hands on four occasions.
He headed Volkswagen Polo R team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala by 4.0sec after eight predominantly gravel speed tests in the hills south of Barcelona. Ott Tanak was third, 11.3sec off the lead in a Ford Fiesta RS.
Ogier, who led after Thursday’s curtain-raising street stage in the Catalan capital, won just one of today’s eight tests covering 128.60km. But his performances in the mixed surface Terra Alta, which ended both morning and afternoon loops, earned him top billing.
The 35.68km stage, the longest of the penultimate round of the WRC, contained a rough 6km asphalt stretch to break up the gravel. Tyre management on the abrasive roads was key and Ogier preserved his Michelin rubber to ensure maximum grip in the final gravel part.
Handicapped by opening the road on slippery gravel, Ogier lost his early lead to Robert Kubica. He regained it in the first run through Terra Alta, only to lose it to Latvala before winning the second pass to move back in front.
Latvala was disappointed with a cautious start which left him seventh. A more aggressive attitude propelled him up the leaderboard, although he could not match Ogier in the long stage where dirt dragged onto the asphalt made conditions slippery.
Tanak won three stages, more than any other driver, and was less than a second off the lead before the final stage. However, the Estonian overused his tyres on the asphalt and fell back to third.
Spain’s Dani Sordo had a consistent day to hold fourth in a Hyundai i20, 26.9sec off the lead and 2.8sec ahead of Mads Ostberg. The Norwegian won two stages in Citroen’s DS 3 and held second until a slow puncture cost nearly 30 seconds.
A subdued 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 leaderboard.
Robert Kubica led for two stages in his Fiesta RS until a double puncture dropped him out of contention. Another puncture this afternoon and a gearbox jammed in first in the final stage ended an ultimately disappointing day.
Lorenzo Bertelli was the only major retirement after rolling in the opening stage.
Teams had an extended 75 minute service tonight in which to transform their cars from gravel to asphalt specification for the final two days. Tomorrow brings eight sealed surface stages, three of which are driven twice, covering 123.05km.
Brake problems for Jari-Matti Latvala in Saturday morning’s opening two stages of RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada allowed team-mate Sebastien Ogier to stretch his overnight lead.
A frustrated Latvala dropped 2.4sec to his Volkswagen Polo R colleague in Porrera, and a further 4.6sec in La Figuera as Ogier moved 11.0sec clear.
“I had a horrible feeling with the pedal and I can’t drive like that. It was a little better in the second stage but it wasn’t at the level it should be. I don’t have a chance. There’s air in the system and I know I have to get it out, but I didn’t have time on the short road section,” said the downbeat Finn.
There was bigger disappointment for Ott Tanak who retired from third after crashing and ripping a wheel from his Ford Fiesta RS after 21.7km of Porrera.
Ogier was fastest in both tests, the Frenchman having to drive around the crashed car of Lorenzo Bertelli in the opener and keeping out of the cuts on the fast and flowing bends.
Many drivers reported understeering issues, including Mads Ostberg who dropped to sixth behind Andreas Mikkelsen after a ‘horrible’ drive through La Figuera in Citroen’s DS 3. Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo, who climbed to third after Tanak’s demise, and Kris Meeke had similar complaints.
Hayden Paddon dropped 20sec after hitting a stone on the inside of a corner 3km from the finish of Porrera and puncturing the front left tyre of his Hyundai i20.
Stephane Lefebvre retired his DS 3 just outside the Salou service with rear brake problems, while Bertelli crashed out for the second consecutive day.
Sebastien Ogier ended Saturday morning’s stages at Spain’s RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada with a lead of nearly a minute after team-mate and closest rival Jari-Matti Latvala broke a wheel.
The Frenchman added a third stage win in Poboleda and returned to the mid-leg service in Salou with a 51.4sec advantage over Dani Sordo’s Hyundai i20.
“We pushed hard this morning to try to make a difference. When Jari-Matti punctured the gap became bigger so it’s not the same level of attack. I’m having great fun and I’ll keep the same approach so that I can enjoy driving these fantastic stages,” said Ogier.
Latvala’s hopes of taming his Volkswagen Polo R colleague ended in Poboleda after, ironically, he had cured the brake dramas that blighted him in the opening two tests.
“I’ve been fighting all morning with my brakes. It was only there that I finally got them right and started a big attack. I cut a corner and there was some concrete on the inside. I hit it and broke the wheel straight away,” explained the Finn, who drove 10km with a flat tyre.
He dropped to fourth, 7.5sec behind Sordo and 6.0sec adrift of third-placed Andreas Mikkelsen. Sordo’s despondency at the handling of his i20 was replaced by a more upbeat attitude after Capafonts.
“We made some changes to the car and it’s better. The last section was really, really nice. A bit too fast in some places but better and better. A big push,” said the Spaniard.
Mads Ostberg was fifth, but frustrated with his morning performance, and Citroen team-mate Kris Meeke narrowed the gap to 11.6sec. Hyundai duo Hayden Paddon and Thierry Neuville were seventh and eighth, with Martin Prokop and WRC 2 leader Pontus Tidemand completing the leaderboard.
M-Sport’s disappointing morning became worse in Capafonts. Having earlier lost Ott Tanak from third (picture below), Elfyn Evans retired when his Ford Fiesta RS went off into a ditch.
Just 2.1sec cover the trio battling for second at Spain's RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada with two speed tests of Saturday's penultimate leg remaining.
While Sebastien Ogier continued serenely at the head of the leaderboard, Andreas Mikkelsen, Dani Sordo (pictured) and Jari-Matti Latvala were engrossed in a fierce fight for the other podium places.
Third fastest for Andreas Mikkelsen in the repeat run through La Figuera promoted him into second ahead of Dani Sordo's Hyundai i20. The Volkswagen Polo R pilot extended his advantage marginally in Poboleda to hold a 1.6sec advantage over the Spaniard.
"I thought I had a puncture and was a bit too conservative. It was another six corners before I realised I hadn't. But I?m matching Jari-Matti's pace and I hope I can do that until the end of the rally," said Mikkelsen at the finish of Poboleda.
But it's Latvala that both men must beware of. The Finn was fastest in La Figuera and second in Poboleda to close to within half a second of Sordo.
Second in La Figuera and a win in the next test left Ogier 57.7sec clear at the front.
Hayden Paddon damaged a wheel rim in a SS15 cut, ending the stage with a flat tyre. Although the Kiwi retained seventh, he was only 1.8sec ahead of Hyundai team-mate Thierry Neuville, who felt more comfortable with his i20 after stiffening the suspension.
Sebastien Ogier takes a lead of almost a minute into Sunday’s final leg of RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada in Spain after a mistake from team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala eased the pressure.
Ogier extended his 4.0sec overnight advantage to 11.0sec during Saturday’s opening two stages as second-placed Latvala fought brake problems on his Volkswagen Polo R.
Having resolved them, the Finn attacked in the next test but an over-ambitious cut soon after the start proved his undoing. He hit a concrete block, smashed a wheel and lost 50sec driving the final 10km with a flat tyre.
It left Ogier clear, and three wins from four morning tests meant he could relax to reach the overnight halt with a 54.0sec advantage. He added a further two stage wins this afternoon to his tally.
"It's been a fun day," said Ogier. "The car was perfect so it was fantastic to drive these great stages. Since I had a bigger gap over Jari-Matti I took it easier, especially in the dirty places, but when it was cleaner I still pushed. But we still have to negotiate 80km tomorrow."
After yesterday's mainly gravel roads, today was all about smooth circuit-like asphalt in the Tarragona hills and Latvala raced back from fourth to second by winning three of the final five stages.
Dani Sordo inherited second after Latvala's drama but was ill at ease with an understeering Hyundai i20. Andreas Mikkelsen climbed steadily from sixth to demote him this afternoon and finish 2.9sec behind Latvala, giving Volkswagen a 1-2-3, and 4.5 sec ahead of the Spaniard.
Understeer was a common complaint this morning and Mads Ostberg described his early progress as ‘horrible’. The day improved for the Norwegian until he stalled his Citroen DS 3’s engine in the final stage to drop behind team-mate Kris Meeke into sixth.
A frustrated Meeke spent much of the day trying to perfect his set-up but the Ulsterman nevertheless climbed from eighth to fifth.
Hayden Paddon lost time after twice puncturing and that dropped the Kiwi into the clutches of fellow i20 driver Thierry Neuville. The Belgian was another to struggle with handling problems but the pair ended tied for seventh.
Martin Prokop and WRC 2 leader Pontus Tidemand completed the leaderboard.
M-Sport had a disastrous day. Firstly Ott Tanak retired from third after ripping a wheel from his Ford Fiesta RS when he hit a barrier and team-mate Elfyn Evans went out after nosing his car into a ditch [below]. The Fiesta was undamaged but stuck.
Stephane Lefebvre retired his DS 3 just metres after leaving service this morning with brake problems while Lorenzo Bertelli crashed out for the second day in the opening stage.
Sunday's final leg features two identical loops of three asphalt tests covering 76.40km. The final live TV Duesaigues Power Stage offers bonus points for the fastest three drivers.
Less than a second divided team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen in their fierce fight for second place at Spain’s RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada after Sunday's opening loop of speed tests.
Fastest time in Els Guiamets and Pratdip enabled Mikkelsen to cut Latvala's advantage to just 0.4sec. But Latvala stopped the clocks quickest in Duesaigues to widen the gap to 0.9sec with just a repeat of the three stages remaining.
Latvala opted for two spare tyres in his Volkswagen Polo R and the Finn felt the decision unsettled the balance.
"I was fighting with the car in the tight and twisty section. The extra spare makes the car understeer and I can’t get out of the exits of the corners. It probably wasn’t the cleverest choice. Andreas is pushing very hard so I’m struggling a bit," said Latvala.
Mikkelsen made a couple of small mistake in the last test, and the Norwegian admitted he had his mind on securing third in the drivers championship as well as fighting Latvala.
The pair pulled clear of Dani Sordo who ended the loop almost 15sec adrift of Mikkelsen.
None of this mattered to Sebastien Ogier who cruised through to head Latvala by 49.0sec.
Kris Meeke spun and stalled Citroen’s DS 3 in Pratdip to hand fifth back to team-mate Mads Ostberg. “The corner just tightened on us. Rather than trying to risk it, I pulled the handbrake and spun us around,” said the Ulsterman.
Thierry Neuville locked a wheel and spun his Hyundai i20 under braking in the same test. It cost the Belgian a place as Hayden Paddon regained seventh, but only 9.4sec covered them.
Robert Kubica’s eventful rally continued when the Pole crumpled the front of his Ford Fiesta RS (below) by hitting a barrier after a pace note mix-up.
Andreas Mikkelsen scored his maiden WRC victory in Spain’s RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada on Sunday when Sebastien Ogier crashed out of the lead in the final speed test.
The Norwegian beat Volkswagen Polo R team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala by 3.1sec when Ogier smashed into a roadside barrier just a handful of kilometres from the finish. Spaniard Dani Sordo finished third in a Hyundai i20, a further 18.1sec behind.
Mikkelsen also won the final live TV Power Stage to claim three bonus points. Latvala took two points in second and Citroen’s Kris Meeke took the final point in a DS 3.
Ogier crash gifts Mikkelsen maiden win
Andreas Mikkelsen claimed his maiden WRC victory at Spain’s RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada on Sunday when world champion Sebastien Ogier crashed out of the lead in the final speed test.
In a hugely dramatic finale, Mikkelsen and co-driver Ola Floene finished the last stage and learned they had edged Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala for what should have been second after a fierce final day fight.
Seconds later the Norwegian was informed that Ogier had smashed his similar Polo R into a metal roadside barrier less than 4km from the finish, ripping the rear right wheel from the car.
Mikkelsen was stunned into silence as he realised the significance of his colleague’s error. It was his first WRC win in 64 attempts and kept alive his hopes of pipping Latvala for second in the drivers’ standings at next month’s final round in Britain.
“It was absurd because Ogier never makes mistakes so when they told me I didn't believe it. It was a big surprise, and although it’s not the way I want to win a rally, we’ve been so close so many times that I feel I really deserve this one,” said 26-year-old Mikkelsen.
Founded in 1932, 367 crews entered the inaugural Royal Automobile Club Rally.
Introduction of forest roads in 1960 transformed the rally into what we know today.
Route formerly included loops around England, Scotland and Wales but the rally has been based solely in Wales since 2000.
Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium hosted the WRC's first indoor stage in 2005.
What’s new for 2015
Ceremonial start switches to Llandudno town centre.
Return of classic stages Myherin and Great Orme to the itinerary.
Superb viewing at Sweet Lamb’s famous arena on Friday. Drivers tackle the test twice.
Sunday’s Great Orme stage. Find a location high on the rock and look down on the competitors as they wind around the headland with stunning views of the sea below.