for RallyRACC Catalunya – Rally de Espana leaderboard after SS4
Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier leads RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de Espana after Friday's opening loop, but heavy rain made the going extremely tricky.
Ogier, who was third quickest on Thursday evening in the short opening Barcelona street super special, was third again in SS2 this morning, 2.5secs off Thierry Neuville.
Ogier was then second in SS3 and SS4, to end the morning with a 4.4 sec advantage over the Hyundai pilot.
"Slippery for sure,” Ogier told the official WRC site post-SS2. “Quite a bit of standing water around. I started a bit on the safe side, it's difficult to find the limit.”
Speaking after SS4, he added: “It was difficult, there was a lot of standing water [again] and I think these water splashes make my life difficult.”
“My driving was good but the road conditions were a real mix,” continued Neuville, who after going quickest in SS2, was third in SS3 and fourth in SS4.
“The rear of the car is kicking me out of the lines from time to time.”
Meanwhile, Jari-Matti Latvala completes the top-three, 5.7secs off the lead and 1.3secs off Neuville, recovering time after his slow start in the short SSS last night, and going fastest in SS3 and SS4.
“The beginning [of SS4] was a bit difficult, a lot of standing water, but on the tarmac it was fantastic and after that I had better grip. I felt very comfortable,” Latvala noted.
Behind, local star Dani Sordo is fourth in his Hyundai i20 WRC, 4.5secs further back, and 3.3secs up on VW Motorsport II pilot Andreas Mikkelsen in P5.
“Very, very slippery. In some places unbelievable,” said Sordo. “I think the second pass will be very difficult.”
Hyundai's Hayden Paddon rounds out the top-six, despite reporting he was down on power after the first test of the day, an issue that persisted in SS3 and SS4: “Especially on the uphill asphalt section we've got no throttle response. I put my foot down to go and there's nobody home. I'm surprised not to have lost more time. There's not much more we can do about it. It is what it is,” he remarked.
Further back, M-Sport's Mads Ostberg is seventh, 20 or so seconds off P6 and a similar amount up on Craig Breen in eighth.
Kris Meeke rolled his Citroen DS 3 WRC in SS2, but was able to continue and lies ninth: “Not a great morning - a really stupid situation. I turned into a left-hander and ran into some ruts. I backed off and thought okay, we're going to spin, but the car slid, touched a bank and we went over. Really stupid,” he said.
Of the rest, overnight leader Ott Tanak has dropped to tenth, still reporting differential issues and also complaining of a lack of traction, followed by Kevin Abbring and WRC2 class leader, Jan Kopecky.
Teemu Suninen had taken the lead this morning in the principal support class with the best time in SS2. The Finn, however, was forced to stop 10 kilometres from the end of SS4.
“I don't know what happened to Suninen. He was just standing by the side of his car, I think I saw some smoke from his exhaust,” noted Kopecky, who now leads Pontus Tidemand by 8.4 seconds.
RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de Espana now continues this afternoon, with repeat-runs through this morning's first three stages.
SS5, the 12.50km Caseres 2 test, is due to start at 14.18 hours local time [13.18 hours UK time].