Rally de Espana: Ogier shines at night

Sebastien Ogier completes Friday's opening leg with an 8.8 second lead over team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala; Dani Sordo finishes the day third, although the Spaniard opted to play it tactically in SS3, easing off to drop behind Latvala; Thierry Neuville and Mikko Hirvonen round out the top five...
Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier has taken the early lead on Rally de Espana, winning all three of the night stages to build an early 8.8 second advantage.

Ogier, who secured the 2013 WRC Drivers' title last time out on Rallye de France, completed the first stage, the 21.26 kilometre Querol test, in 11 minutes 23.6 seconds, 3 seconds up on Dani Sordo.

The Frenchman was then quickest again in SS2, 3.6 seconds up on Sordo, who was again 'best of the rest'. Ogier then made it a hat-trick of stage wins in SS3, albeit only 0.1 seconds up on team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala.

“The rally got off to a good start for us. I took a somewhat restrained approach to the first stage this evening, but after that we did a perfect job,” Ogier said.

“I just want to enjoy the rally here in Spain and have some fun – and the best way to do that is to go flat out. My aim tomorrow is to extend our lead as much as possible to give us a good chance of winning when we switch to gravel on Sunday.”

Behind, Latvala inherited second overall in Riudecanyes 1, after Sordo elected to play it tactically, easing off so as to drop behind the Finn on the road for Saturday's second leg.

Tactics are likely to play a big part in this event, as the start order for the final day, when the surface changes from asphalt to gravel, will be set at the end of SS8 tomorrow, and whoever is leading will end up running first on the road on the Sunday and will thus have to sweep the line.

“Everything went well this evening. It was great to drive on these roads at night. I felt it was preferable to lose a little bit of time on SS3 so that Latvala moved ahead of me. That will make it easier for me to choose my starting position for the third leg, which will be on gravel. I'm not a big fan of these kinds of tactics, but we've been forced into proceeding like this by the regulations,” Sordo explained.

“We can be very pleased with our first evening because it's not easy starting a rally in the dark and driving fast straight away,” added Latvala. “But we managed without any problems and got into a good rhythm. I enjoyed the last stage in particular and upped my speed. You need to be consistently fast to succeed in this rally.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Sebastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo WRC #8, Volkswagen Motorsport)
Sebastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo WRC #8, Volkswagen Motorsport)
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC

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