Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier has taken the early lead on RallyRACC Catalunya-Costa Daurada after setting the pace in the short 3.20km Barcelona super special on Thursday evening.
Ogier, who is gunning for his eighth win of the season in Spain, completed the tarmac test in 3 minutes 37.8 seconds, leaving him 2.1s up on the Hyundai of Thierry Neuville, while team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen was third, 0.8s further back in his VW Motorsport II Polo R WRC.
“It is good to start this way but I remember in Corsica we started like this and then it didn't go so well!” Ogier told the official WRC site. “The real start is tomorrow. I'm happy though, it was a clean drive. Now I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
“I'm going to go for it.”
Behind, Citroen duo Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg came in fourth and sixth, sandwiching the Fiesta RS of former F1 driver, Robert Kubica.
Jari-Matti Latvala, Hayden Paddon, Dani Sordo and WRC 2 leader, Nasser Al-Attiyah then filled positions 7 through to 10.
“Others focussed more on getting their tyres up to temperature before the short special stage at the start of Rally Spain than we did. That is probably why we lost a bit of time compared to the leaders,” Latvala noted.
“However, the serious business does not begin until tomorrow, with eight special stages scheduled. That is what we are concentrating on.”
RallyRACC Catalunya-Costa Daurada now begins 'proper' on Friday with eight stages on the bill and a total competitive distance of 128.60 km. SS2, the 9.62km Mora d'Ebre-Asco 1 test, is due to start at 10.08 hours local time [09.08 hours UK time].
Full itinerary for round twelve in WRC 2015 available - HERE
2015 Rally RACC Catalunya-Costa Daurada: Overall standings after Stage 1 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Ogier
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 3m 37.8s
2. Thierry Neuville
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +0m 02.1s
3. Andreas Mikkelsen
Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +0m 02.9s
4. Kris Meeke
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +0m 03.3s
5. Robert Kubica
Ford Fiesta RS WRC +0m 03.9s
6. Mads Ostberg
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +0m 04.7s
7. Jari-Matti Latvala
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +0m 05.2s
8. Hayden Paddon
Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +0m 05.4s
9. Dani Sordo
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +0m 06.4s
10. Nasser Al-Attiyah
Skoda Fabia R5 +0m 06.5s
11. Ott Tanak
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +0m 07.0s
12. Lorenzo Bertelli
Ford Fiesta RS WRC +0m 07.3s
13. Jan Kopecky
Skoda Fabia R5 +0m 07.4s
14. Martin Prokop
Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +0m 08.7s
15. Esapekka Lappi
Skoda Fabia R5 +0m 08.7s
16. Elfyn Evans
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +0m 09.0s
17. Stephane Lefebvre
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +0m 09.9s
WRC2 standings after Stage 1 (Top 3):
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah
Skoda Fabia R5 3m 44.3s
2. Jan Kopecky
Skoda Fabia R5 +0m 00.9s
3. Esapekka Lappi
Skoda Fabia R5 +0m 02.2s
M denotes Manufacturer entry
all times unofficial