26 October 2014
WRC Rally de Espana: Ogier poised for glory
Sebastien Ogier completes SS15 of Rally de Espana with a 21.9 second lead over team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, still on course for the win and to clinch the WRC Drivers' title again; Mikko Hirvonen remains third
Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier remains on course to win in Spain and secure the WRC Drivers' title again following Sunday's morning opening two stages.
Ogier, who began the day with a 27.3 second advantage, was third quickest in La Mussara 1 and second quickest in Riudecanyes 1 to head back to the service with a 21.9 second lead.
“There was nothing bad for me and no cuts, so I could drive cleanly,” Ogier told the official WRC site after the loop. “The rally is never finished before the final stage but it's perfect for me so far. I just have to stay concentrated.”
Latvala, who trails Ogier by 27 points in the Drivers' Championship, was fastest in both tests, despite a small error at the roundabout in SS15.
“I am still pushing,” Latvala noted after the first test of the loop, “if he [Ogier] wants to win the championship I am not going to make it easy - I want to win it too.”
Mikko Hirvonen meanwhile is still third, more than a minute off P2 and 30 seconds or so up on Mads Ostberg in fourth.
“It's all good out there, no panic,” Hirvonen commented. “The morning went as we were hoping and expecting so that was pretty good. It's been a long season and we've not been on the podium as much as we're used to.
“It would be fantastic for the whole team if we were able to do it this weekend because everyone has worked so hard all year.”
Behind, Dani Sordo is fifth for Hyundai, with Thierry Neuville sixth, but now only 4.4 seconds up on Andreas Mikkelsen in seventh. The gap had been 12.1 seconds last night.
Martin Prokop rounds out the top eight, despite “quite a moment” when he went off in Riudecanyes 1 and hit a barrier. Hayden Paddon and Yuriy Protasov hold ninth and tenth, with Ken Block eleventh and WRC2 class leader Nasser Al-Attiyah 12th.
Robert Kubica re-joined this morning under Rally 2 and is now running 18th, four spots behind fellow Rally 2 man and team-mate Elfyn Evans and three ahead of Kris Meeke in 21st. Meeke also rejoined, but on Saturday, like Evans.
“It's been an okay morning,” said Kubica. “The first stage [SS14] was new for us and very fast in sections. The pacenotes were not so great as there was a lot of traffic during the recce – it was not an easy recce for us on that stage.
“The second one [SS15] we knew from last year and it was okay with no big dramas. This afternoon we just need to continue checking the notes for the future and try to learn as much as we can.”
“It's been a bit better this morning,” Evans noted. “We made some changes over night and the feeling is better for sure. Now we just need to regain the confidence. We're fairly happy, so we'll keep the car as it is and just concentrate on the driving and improving ahead of next year.”
Rally de Espana now concludes with repeat runs through this morning's two tests. SS16 is set to start at 10.45 hours local time [09.45 hours UK time], with the Power Stage [SS17] then getting underway at 12.08 hours local time [11.08 hours UK time].
RallyRACC-Rally de Espana: Overall standings after Stage 15 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 3hrs 25m 28.3s M
2. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 21.9s M
3. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01m 34.0s M
4. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +02m 05.7s M
5. Dani Sordo Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +02m 18.1s M
6. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +03m 52.1s M
7. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +03m 56.5s M
8. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +07m 52.6s M
9. Hayden Paddon Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +08m 54.8s M
10. Yuriy Protasov M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +10m 50.7s
11. Ken Block M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +11m 08.7s
12. Nasser Al-Attiyah Ford Fiesta RRC +11m 18.1s WRC2
13. Julien Maurin Ford Fiesta R5 +12m 06.2s WRC2
14. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +13m 07.5s M
15. Xavi Pons Ford Fiesta R5 +13m 26.0s
16. Khalid Al Qassimi Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +13m 43.7s
17. Robert Barrable Ford Fiesta R5 +15m 55.4s WRC2
18. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +21m 02.7s M
21. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +27m 42.3s M*
WRC2 standings after Stage 15 (Top 3):
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah Ford Fiesta RRC 3hrs 36m 46.4s WRC2
2. Julien Maurin Ford Fiesta R5 +00m 48.1s WRC2
3. Robert Barrable Ford Fiesta R5 +04m 37.3s 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*
SS11. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Lost a wheel M**
M denotes Manufacturer entry
*denotes re-started on Saturday under Rally 2
**denotes re-started on Sunday under Rally 2
all times unofficial
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