Jarkko Nikara completed the top-five after an impressive performance on his one-off outing with the Prodrive WRC team. The Finn lost time with a puncture in SS5 on Friday, but kept his head over the remainder of the event and gained two places on final day when Han Weijs and Ott Tanak both crashed out: “It was a difficult event. The stages were quite tricky and so were the conditions. But the team did a fantastic job,” he said.
Further back, Craig Breen had much to celebrate, as not only did he take sixth overall and the SWRC class win, but that was also sufficient to ensure he won the 2012 Super 2000 World Rally Championship - a brilliant result for the Irishman, especially given what happened back in June, when his former co-driver Gareth Roberts was killed on the IRC event in Sicily.
“This is incredible. I can't believe it,” Breen stated. “I often had questions about coming back [and continuing to compete]. But I think we were meant to win it. I am so, so happy. I want to thank everyone who has supported me. This is beyond my wildest dreams.”
WRC MINI Team Portugal man Chris Atkinson took seventh, ahead of Per-Gunnar Andersson and Dani Sordo. Sordo was one of a number of the top drivers that failed to make it through the opening leg, but despite technical problems on Saturday morning, he bounced back and won six of the final nine stages to haul his Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC car back up into the points.
Of the rest, Evgeny Novikov rounded out the top ten despite picking up a ten minute penalty this morning after it was discovered the tread on his tyres were below the 1.6mm limit following Saturday's final stage.
Petter Solberg, Thierry Neuville, Martin Prokop, Abdulaziz Alkuwari and Yazeed Al-Rajhi filled positions 11 through to 15.
In the support categories, as mentioned, Breen took the SWRC honours, while in the PWRC, Benito Guerra won, finishing more than 5 minutes up on Marcos Liagto. Victory also gave Guerra the 2012 PWRC title.
As for the Academy class, Jose Suarez took the honours, 1 minute 19.7 seconds ahead of Pontus Tidemand.
In terms of retirements, in addition to Weijs and Tanak, Sebastien Ogier was probably one of the other more notable names not to finish with mechanical issues sidelining him on day one en-route
The WRC now takes a break, before the 2013 season gets underway in January with Rallye Monte Carlo.
To view the result for the 2012 Rally de Espana - CLICK HERE