25 October 2014
WRC Rally de Espana: Ogier still in control, despite Latvala charge
Sebastien Ogier sees his overnight lead on Rally de Espana cut by 8.3 seconds following Saturday's opening three stages, but he still remains 28.3s up on Jari-Matti Latvala and very much in control
Sebastien Ogier remains in the lead and in control on Rally de Espana following Saturday morning's opening loop, even though his team-mate and nearest rival Jari-Matti Latvala put in a charge and took a hat-trick of stage wins.
Ogier, who is looking to clinch his second successive WRC Driver's title this weekend in Spain, began the second full-day of competition 36.6 seconds up on Latvala and he was second quickest to the Finn in all three stages - conceding 1 second in SS8, 2 seconds in SS9 and 5.3 seconds in SS10.
As a result he now heads into the 30 minute mid-day service in Salou with his lead cut to 28.3 seconds, but Ogier insists he isn't feeling any pressure.
“Why should I respond?” Ogier told the official WRC site after Colldejou 1. “I have nearly 30 seconds.
“I am happy with the loop and I take less risks [than him]. When the gap is zero - that is when we have to push.”
Meanwhile, Latvala said he had no choice but to push, given he trails Ogier by 27 points in the Drivers' Championship, with just one event left in Wales after this weekend.
“The only thing I can do is to try to pressurise Seb,” Latvala confirmed. “Okay he has a secure position right now, but if we can push it's the only thing we can do now for the championship.”
“It feels good in the car and I am comfortable to keep pushing at this pace,” added the Finn, who struggled on Friday on the gravel, but actually felt better this morning when the action switched to asphalt.
Behind, Mikko Hirvonen has now climbed to third, the M-Sport man having gone third quickest in SS8 and SS9 and seventh in SS10. He trails Latvala by 23.6 seconds.
“This morning has been really good," said Hirvonen. "We've made some small changes to the car since France and everything is working well. Also I was never so confident with the old tyre on Tarmac – I found them a little too precise and it was difficult to judge where the grip would be and how hard you could push. This one works much better for me.
“Of course I'm sure everyone else will learn and lift their pace, but our car is working really well with these tyres.
"I had a really good rhythm in the long stage [SS9] and other than the brakes over-heating slightly in the last one [SS10], it was a great morning so let's see if we can keep it up.”
Andreas Mikkelsen is next up, 5.5 seconds adrift in the VW Motorsport II entry after suffering a spin 7 kilometres from the end of SS9, while Citroen's Mads Ostberg has dropped to fifth, 11.5 seconds off P4.
Dani Sordo lies sixth for Hyundai, but completed SS10 with a warning light on and his car covered in oil.
Further back, Thierry Neuville has moved up to seventh, ahead of both Martin Prokop and Robert Kubica in eighth and ninth respectively.
Kubica had to limp through the loop after suffering a diff failure before the start of SS8. He lost nearly 5 minutes as a result and also picked up a 10 second penalty when he was a minute late to the SS8 time control.
“The rear driveshaft broke before the start of the first stage this morning [SS8]. We only had two-wheel-drive, but we managed to make it through all of the stages and it shouldn't be a big drama now to get the car fixed in service,” Kubica said.
“I couldn't learn anything this morning as we only had two-wheel-drive but let's see. This afternoon we will use the stages to perfect the pacenotes and learn more about this rally.”
Hyundai third driver Hayden Paddon rounds out the top ten, with Ken Block and Yuriy Protasov eleventh and twelfth, the latter almost rolling in SS9.
Elfyn Evans and Kris Meeke both rejoined today under Rally 2 after retiring on Friday. Evans is now up to P18, while Meeke is 31st. The Ulsterman had to stop in SS9 and change a puncture after cutting the very first corner and hitting a stone. He lost over 2 minutes.
“It's not been a bad morning and we had a fairly good run through most of the long stage [SS9], but I feel that we can get a lot more out of this loop," said Evans. "There's certainly more to come, so I'll check through the pacenotes over lunch and see what we can do on the second pass.”
In WRC2, Nasser Al-Attiyah continues to lead, 1 minute 14.6 seconds up on Julien Maurin. Maurin set the WRC2 pace in all three tests to cut the overnight gap by around 45 seconds. Robert Barrable is third.
Rally de Espana now continues this afternoon with repeat runs through the 50 km Escaladei test and the 26.48 km Colldejou stage. SS11, Escaladei 2, is due to start at 14.16 hours local time [13.16 hours UK time].
RallyRACC-Rally de Espana: Overall standings after Stage 10 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 2hrs 16m 33.9s M
2. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 28.3s M
3. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 51.9s M
4. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +00m 57.4s M
5. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +01m 08.9s M
6. Dani Sordo Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +01m 40.2s M
7. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +03m 02.5s M
8. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03m 16.1s M
9. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +05m 47.7s M
10. Hayden Paddon Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +07m 28.8s M
11. Ken Block M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +07m 33.3s
12. Yuriy Protasov M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +07m 35.2s
13. Nasser Al-Attiyah Ford Fiesta RRC +07m 37.4s WRC2
14. Julien Maurin Ford Fiesta R5 +08m 52.0s WRC2
15. Khalid Al Qassimi Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +09m 14.7s
16. Xavi Pons Ford Fiesta R5 +09m 33.4s
17. Robert Barrable Ford Fiesta R5 +11m 49.9s WRC2
18. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +12m 08.0s M
WRC2 standings after Stage 10 (Top 3):
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah Ford Fiesta RRC 2hrs 24m 11.3s WRC2
2. Julien Maurin Ford Fiesta R5 +01m 14.6s WRC2
3. Robert Barrable Ford Fiesta R5 +04m 12.5s WRC2
SS3/SS4. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC Double puncture M*
SS6. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Radiator damage M*
M denotes Manufacturer entry
*denotes re-started on Saturday under Rally 2
all times unofficial
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