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Discussion Starter #1
The Final WRC Round 13 RACC Rallye Spain 08 - 11 Nov

Based on Spain’s Costa Daurada in the country’s Tarragona region, the event is always one of the highlights of the WRC season and its inclusion as the final round in 2012 will doubtless increase the number of fans who travel to the popular seaside tourist town of Salou to enjoy the party atmosphere and visit the permanent service park at the PortAventura theme park.

While the opening day in Spain last season was in theory a gravel-only leg, just one repeated stage took place entirely on gravel with two repeated stages using a mixture of gravel and asphalt as a means of increasing the challenge for the drivers and raising the spectacle for the many spectators following the action.

But it’s the sweeping race circuit-style asphalt roads that characterise this event that will once again dominate the competitive route. To be quick, drivers must maximise their pace through the high-speed turns by taking the optimum line at all times.

As well as hosting the last round of the 2012 world championship season RallyRACC-Rally de Espana will host the WRC’s three support championships.

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1,247 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Rally de Espana: Qualifying stage:

Citroen's Sebastien Loeb was fastest this morning in the qualifying stage for Rally de Espana, the final round in the 2012 World Rally Championship.

Loeb completed the 2.94 kilometre Emprius de Salou test in 2 minutes 6.100 seconds, which put him 0.1 seconds up on Evgeny Novikov's DMACK tyres-shod Ford Fiesta RS WRC car. Loeb will now get first choice of start position for Friday's opening day, which includes two different tests on gravel and one mixed surface stage, Terra Alta - all will be run twice.

Mikko Hirvonen meanwhile was third quickest in the sister works Citroen DS3 WRC car, 0.2 seconds further back, while the Fords of Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg came in fourth and fifth respectively.

“I thought I was setting a good time, but in the end, as always, Loeb was the fastest!” Hirvonen lamented.

“I made a mistake and the back tyre slid out,” Latvala conceded, “but it was nothing important.”

“I had a problem in a corner [too],” Solberg added, "as I could not use first gear.”

Behind, Thierry Neuville rounded out the top six in his Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC, followed by local star, Dani Sordo, Ott Tanak, Mads Ostberg and Martin Prokop in positions 7 through to 10.

“I made a couple of mistakes, but with such a short stage that meant I lost quite a lot of time,” Sordo said.

Drivers will now select their start positions in a few hours time.

Rally de Espana then gets underway 'proper' on Friday, with SS1, the 7 km Gandesa 1 test, due to start at 07.45 hours local time (06.45 hours UK time).

1. Sebastien Loeb --- Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC -- 2m 06.100s M
2. Evgeny Novikov --- Ford Fiesta RS WRC -- +0.100s
3. Mikko Hirvonen --- Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC -- +0.300s M
4. Jari-Matti Latvala --- Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC -- +0.500s M
5. Petter Solberg --- Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC -- +0.800s M
6. Thierry Neuville --- Citroen Junior WRT Citroen DS3 WRC -- +1.300s
7. Dani Sordo --- Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC -- +1.400s
8. Ott Tanak --- M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC -- +1.500s M
9. Mads Ostberg Adapta WRT --- Fiesta RS WRC -- +1.600s M
10. Martin Prokop --- Czech Ford National Team Fiesta RS WRC -- +3.400s
11. Han Weijs --- Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC -- +3.500s M
12. Jarkko Nikara --- Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC -- +4.200s
13. Chris Atkinson --- WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC -- +4.500s
14. Daniel Oliveira --- Brazil WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC -- +5.100s M
15. Abdulaziz Alkuwari --- Seashore Qatar WRT MINI John Cooper Works WRC -- +9.500s
16. John Powell --- M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC -- +12.300s M
17. Paulo Nobre --- WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC -- +15.000s



Citroen's Sebastien Loeb has decided to start 14th in the order on the opening day of Rally de Espana.

Loeb got first pick of position after topping the times this morning in the qualifying stage. The Frenchman opted to run as far back as possible so as to avoid having to 'swept the road', as most of the stages on the opening day are on gravel, with the exception of the long 44.02 km Terra Alta test, which is a mixed surface stage.

Evgeny Novikov, who was second quickest in the QS, followed Loeb's lead, and will run 13th in the order, with Mikko Hirvonen 12th and the Fords of Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg 11th and 10th.

Chris Atkinson will run first in his WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC car.

Rally de Espana: Day 1 (Friday) running order:

1. Chris Atkinson WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC
2. Daniel Oliveira Brazil WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC M
3. Jarkko Nikara Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC
4. Han Weijs Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC M
5. Martin Prokop Czech Ford National Team Fiesta RS WRC
6. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC M
7. Mads Ostberg Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC M
8. Dani Sordo Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC
9. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT Citroen DS3 WRC
10. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC M
11. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC M
12. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC M
13. Evgeny Novikov Ford Fiesta RS WRC
14. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC M



1,247 Posts
Discussion Starter #3

SS1: Latvala takes early lead

Jari-Matti Latvala began his final rally with Ford in style by setting the pace on the wet first stage of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana.

In increasingly damp conditions, Latvala ran hard tyres on the front and softs on the rear as he set a time of 4m40.5s.

That was half a second faster than an impressed Sebastien Loeb, who ran the more appropriate soft tyres all round and had plenty of respect for Latvala's time.

Loeb's Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen drove tentatively after an early scare, but was still within 1.7s of the lead.

Petter Solberg was fourth quickest, while just one tenth of a second covered Ott Tanak, Thierry Neuville and Mads Ostberg in fifth through seventh places. Ostberg coped well with running four hard tyres.

Jarkko Nikara upstaged Prodrive MINI team-mate Dani Sordo on their first stage together, pipping the Spaniard - who made a small mistake - by 1.2s.

Martin Prokop completes the early top 10 despite stalling at the stage start.

Sardinia runner-up Evgeny Novikov began his rally with a muted 13th fastest, while Citroen debutant Hans Weijs had a quick spin.

click: ss1


SS2: Tanak into lead amid high drama

Ott Tanak emerged in a sensational RallyRACC-Rally de Espana lead as increasingly heavy rain hampered the usual frontrunners on stage two, Pesells.

The young Estonian is just one tenth of a second ahead of Mads Ostberg, while Mikko Hirvonen, Sebastien Loeb and Jari-Matti Latvala have fallen to third, fourth and fifth.

They fared better than Petter Solberg and Thierry Neuville, both of whom damaged their cars and had to stop.

Tanak was none too impressed with his pace when he completed the stage, but with the weather getting ever worse, those early in the running order had a slightly less treacherous conditions than the big names.

The M-Sport Ford driver and Adapta Ford's Ostberg set identical times, and found themselves at the head of the order - despite Ostberg struggling with unsuitable hard tyres.

Hirvonen is now 14.4s behind Tanak and Ostberg in the leading Citroen.

"There's so much standing water that sometimes even in a straight line you have a massive slide," Hirvonen reported.

His team-mate Loeb had even worse weather to cope with and is 7s further back.

"I think we had the right tyre choice for the morning, but the road position is really bad," said Loeb, who chose what should have been the prime spot in 14th on the road after heading qualifying.

"We had heavy rain, big ruts and a lot of water. I cannot drive on the line at all."

Latvala was further compromised by a spin, leaving him another 7s down on Loeb.

The Finn reported that both his Ford team-mate Petter Solberg and Citroen Junior driver Thierry Neuville appeared to have hit a rock and damaged their cars. Both seem to be out of Friday's action already.

Dani Sordo and Jarkko Nikara are sixth and eighth in the Prodrive MINIs, but Nikara is set to gain a position immediately as seventh-placed Martin Prokop crashed his Ford as he crossed the stage two flying finish.

click: ss2


SS3: Ostberg edges ahead

Mads Ostberg inched ahead of Ott Tanak in their battle for the RallyRACC-Rally de Espana lead at the end of the mammoth 44-kilometre Terra Alta stage.

The two satellite Ford drivers stayed clear of their factory competition even as weather conditions improved slightly on the final stage of the morning loop.

Ostberg spun on the stage, but recovered his composure in time to pull 2.7s clear of Tanak at the front of the field.

The works Citroens started stretching their legs again as the rain eased, but despite Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen being first and second fastest on the lengthy stage, they did not take a great deal out of Ostberg and Tanak's advantage.

Hirvonen is 13s off the lead, and 6s ahead of Loeb.

The Citroens fared much better than the remaining factory Ford. Jari-Matti Latvala decided not to receive rivals' split times and was too cautious. He lost a lot of time and is now nearly one minute from the lead.

Jarkko Nikara's superb debut for the Prodrive MINI team continued as he moved to within 14s of Latvala in sixth place, while keeping Evgeny Novikov's Autotek Ford five seconds behind.

Nikara is now Prodrive's hope for a good result, as his team-mate Dani Sordo got stuck off the road on stage three.

click: ss3


Friday midday wrap:

Ford's underdogs starred on a rain-lashed opening morning of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana, with Mads Ostberg holding a narrow lead over Ott Tanak after the first loop.

Increasingly heavy rain caused a litany of incidents and proved particularly troublesome to the regular rally winners, most of whom were running late in the start order and therefore hit the worst of the stage conditions on the sodden stage two in particular.

While the factory Citroens and Fords floundered, M-Sport Ford man Tanak and his Adapta counterpart Ostberg burst to the front.

Tanak held a tiny 0.1s lead after stage two, with Ostberg then edging into a 2.7s advantage by the end of stage three.

Neither had a totally straightforward morning either: Tanak overshot a braking point and slid off briefly on stage one, and Ostberg had a spin on stage three, and coped with running unsuitable hard tyres throughout the loop.

Citroen managed to salvage third and fourth from the morning, and by stage three its works cars were setting the pace again.

Mikko Hirvonen and Sebastien Loeb are currently 13s and 19s respectively behind Ostberg and poised for a comeback charge.

But the factory Ford team's hopes of winning its final rally in its current incarnation look remote already.

Jari-Matti Latvala led after stage one, then struggled a lot with the slippery conditions and took things too carefully on stage three.

He is now 55s off the lead, but still in better shape than team-mate Petter Solberg, who hit a rock on stage two and had to retire.

Ironically the same obstacle was Solberg's undoing in Spain in 2011 - and this year it also caught out Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen.

....Chris Atkinson has had a troubled morning in eighth, with Citroen newcomer Hans Weijs ninth and SWRC leader Craig Breen 10th. Breen's title rival PG Andersson led the class until losing a minute with a differential issue.

Yeray Lemes is just 2s ahead of Marcos Ligato in a tight PWRC battle.

click: midday wrap


1,247 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
SS4: Novikov flies to shock stage win

Evgeny Novikov revelled in the muddy conditions of stage four and set the fastest time for himself and the DMACK tyres, as Mads Ostberg stormed into a 26-second lead on the RallyRACC-Rally de Espana.

Although the torrential rain in Spain has stopped, the stages remain very slippery from the morning loop. That didn't suit the Citroens, but proved profitable for Ford men Novikov, Jari-Matti Latvala and Ostberg.

Novikov was quickest by 1.1s over Latvala, bringing his DMACK-shod Ford up to sixth overall. The Russian said he knew the wet stages would be his best chance to impress.

"It was a quite tricky and slippery stage, and I feel comfortable in those conditions, so I tried to attack," said Novikov.

Latvala remains fifth, but was relieved to at least be matching the lead pace after losing so much time on the first loop.

"I'm honestly trying to push," said the Ford World Rally Team driver. "The first 15 kilometres of the stage was fine, but after that it was really muddy and it was difficult to get the rhythm."

Ostberg's third-fastest time allowed him to extend his outright lead over Ott Tanak, who took things more cautiously, to 26s.

Tanak might have lost second place to Mikko Hirvonen, had the Citroen man not taken a trip off the road that left him 4s shy of Tanak at the end of the stage.

"We lost six or seven seconds at the end," said Hirvonen. "We went off on a corner, straight off the road into the bushes and then we had to reverse."

There were no such dramas for Hirvonen's team-mate Sebastien Loeb, yet he was still 17.6s off the fastest stage time and is now 35.5s away from the lead in fourth.

"I'm just trying to do what I can in the mud. I'm really trying hard. We cannot match the Fords," Loeb insisted.

click: ss4


SS5: Loeb starts his comeback

Sebastien Loeb began his pursuit of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana leader Mads Ostberg with a storming stage win on the 44-kilometre Terra Alta test.

Loeb had been a muted presence so far in his final event as a full-time World Rally Championship contender, drifting to 35s off the lead in fourth place amid the horrible stage conditions that Friday initially delivered.

But as the weather improved a little by mid-afternoon, Loeb raised his game and delivered his and Citroen's first stage victory of the weekend.

That brought him up from fourth to second, and cut Ostberg's overall lead to 25s.

"I tried really hard. In this one it was a bit better," said Loeb. "I think in the previous stage it was getting muddy after the passes of the cars. Finally in this one I had a good drive."

Loeb's Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen lacked the confidence to take those risks and was a full 45s slower. That dropped him behind Jari-Matti Latvala to fourth in the overall standings.

There was plenty of drama in the battle for the rest of the top 10 spots too.

Ott Tanak was similar concerns to Hirvonen and tumbled from second to fifth overall.

Stage four winner Evgeny Novikov slid into a ditch, forcing him to retire, while Chris Atkinson parked his MINI with differential damage.

Fellow MINI man Jarkko Nikara was also in trouble, stopping to change and puncture and then grappling with a jack issue.

That means he is now back in seventh place, behind World Rally Car debutant Hans Wiejs in Nasser Al-Attiyah's usual Citroen.

click: ss5


SS6: Hirvonen ends day with a stage win

Mikko Hirvonen brought a wild day of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana to an encouraging close by going fastest on the Salou superspecial.

The Citroen driver had dropped 45 seconds on the preceding Terra Alta stage, but kept himself in the podium hunting by winning the day-closing test.

"It's been quite up and down. The last long stage was really, really bad," Hirvonen admitted.

His team-mate Sebastien Loeb might have hoped to take more time out of rally leader Mads Ostberg on Salou, but was frustrated when it began raining during the four-minute gap before he took the start.

That meant he actually lost 2.1s to Mads Ostberg and 5.1s to Hirvonen, leaving his deficit to the Norwegian in the overall standings at 27.2s heading into Saturday.

Jari-Matti Latvala completes the current top three, 19.8s behind Loeb and 15.6s ahead of Hirvonen.

Having lost ground with his brake problems earlier in the afternoon, Ott Tanak was back on the pace on the superspecial, going second quickest and remaining within 8s of Hirvonen in fifth place.

At the end of a day of chaos, there were no more dramas on Salou, but there was one pre-stage, with Sebastien Ogier - who was poised to move into sixth overall - stopping his Volkswagen Motorsport Skoda Fabia on the road section after Terra Alta.

click: ss6


My day in the WRC. By John Powell

Trinidad and Tobago's John Powell is making his FIA World Rally Championship debut on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana this week. After a tough start to the mixed-surface event, Powell admitted it's not been easy in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

“Wow! I don’t know what to say,” said Powell at the PortAventura service park earlier today. “It looks easy on TV but it’s definitely not. It was very challenging. The first stage was horrific. I couldn’t find the wipers, I couldn’t find the heated windscreen and we went off slightly so I have to apologise to M-Sport for that.

“The second stage we got into it a little bit better but we just saw a lot of cars scattered all over the stage but the third stage was the most difficult stage of my life. I will not be embarrassed to tell you I had to stop for about 30 seconds. It felt like an eternity. I was just out of breath on the Tarmac stages. I just could not go any further.

“On the gravel I was okay but on the Tarmac I had to stop. It’s so demanding on you, physically and mentally. Also we went into a cloud of fog and we couldn’t see anything. I was disorientated and stopped for a few seconds, which seemed the safest thing to do to get my bearings before going again.

“I had to shake Sebastien Loeb’s hand a while ago. I told him this thing looks so easy on TV but to actually do it is really, really difficult. He said it was difficult for him as well but I don’t believe him somehow.

“I have absolutely no regrets about doing this. I just didn’t expect it to be what it is. It’s really demanding on you, it’s a different level and really is Cool Runnings comes to the WRC.”

Powell has not been able to contest this afternoon’s stages due to illness. He plans to rest before restarting under Rally 2 rules on Saturday morning.

click: powell


1,247 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Friday wrap:

Mads Ostberg managed to reach the end of a thrilling day one of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana with a 27-second cushion over the field, as Sebastien Loeb moved himself to the head of the queue of pursuers.

Loeb had appeared content to tread carefully through the extremely wet and muddy opening stages of the event.

But when conditions became a little more palatable on the second run through the 44 kilometres of Terra Alta, Loeb dug deeper and produced a stage win that thrust him from fourth to second, 25s down on Ostberg.

Before that, the Adapta Ford driver had been extending his lead, storming through the afternoon's first stage as his morning combatant Ott Tanak began to drop back.

Loeb might have expected to trim a little more from Ostberg's cushion on the mostly asphalt Salou superspecial that brought leg one to a close, but instead he lost two seconds as rain began to fall before he took the start.

Given Loeb's illustrious asphalt record, Ostberg's chances of hanging on to the lead for the rest of the weekend appear remote.

Ostberg conceded that the 49s margin he holds over third-placed Jari-Matti Latvala was his main focus, yet wouldn't completely dismiss his chances of defeating Loeb.

"It's been extremely difficult today. But we seemed to cope with extremely difficult conditions very well," said Ostberg.

"I'm very happy with the day and I'm looking forward to doing some racing tomorrow.

"There are two more long days and if everything is perfect it is even possible to keep Loeb behind. But I reckon it will be hard to do two perfect days on tarmac."

Latvala moved into third as Mikko Hirvonen and Tanak fell back. A wild moment on Terra Alta cost Hirvonen, who rebounded by winning Salou, while Tanak was partly cautious and partly plagued by brake problems following a huge spin.

Evgeny Novikov gave DMACK a superb stage win on Pesells, only to then put his Autotek-run Ford into a ditch on the following Terra Alta stage.

click: Wrap


Friday SWRC wrap:

Craig Breen is on course for winning his second FIA title in as many years by completing day one of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana with a commanding lead in the Super 2000 World Rally Championship division.

Breen had trailed title rival P-G Andersson after Friday’s opening two stages but moved on top when a broken driveshaft slowed Andersson’s PROTON Satria Neo. Andersson attempted to make up the lost time in the afternoon with a charging display in the increasingly treacherous conditions only to go off twice on stage five, leaving Breen with an overnight margin of 3m41.5s.

“Today was just incredibly difficult, the hardest conditions I’ve ever driven in, so I’m very relieved to be here,” said Irishman Breen, who pilots a Ford Fiesta. “The conditions were changing at every corner and it’s impossible to try and push in those kind of conditions. I love the stages tomorrow, I grew up driving on Tarmac but hopefully the weather will be a kinder to us.”

Andersson, the double Junior world champion, said: “I was just oversteering and I never managed to get it back on a corner. I spun around and clipped a rock and it took the wheels out. I kept on going but the same thing happened. The car was drivable but it was not nice to drive in those muddy conditions when the car wanted to go everywhere else. I had a proper go but it didn’t work, that’s it.”

Yazeed Al-Rajhi’s outside title hopes were thwarted when the Saudi went off the road on stage five with Poland’s Maciej Oleksowicz taking advantage of Al-Rajhi’s misfortune to move into third in his Fiesta.

Hayden Paddon was another driver to falter in the tricky driving conditions when the New Zealander got stuck five kilometres into stage three and was forced to retire. “The conditions were very tricky today with a lot of rain making the roads like a skating rink in places,” explained Paddon.

Former category regular Albert Llovera returned as a wildcard entrant but was forced to retire on stage five. Alastair Fisher, making his debut for the factory PROTON team, also failed to make it through the fifth test.

click: friday wrap


1,247 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
PWRC Friday wrap:

Marcos Ligato leads the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship section of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana at the overnight halt in Salou but a mistake on the day-closing stage through the streets of the host town could prove decisive in his title bid.

Ligato, in a Subaru Impreza, heads Spanish wildcard Yeray Lemes by 11.1s starting day two but his advantage could have been higher had it not been for a mistake on the two-kilometre course, which cost him 10 seconds.

“It’s been very difficult day,” admitted Ligato, who needs to win to stand any chance of overhauling current championship leader Benito Guerra. “It had been raining so there was a lot of water in the lines and the car jumped all over the place. I couldn’t see very well but we took care of the car and took no risks. We were losing time, but so was everyone in these types of road conditions. The car had a good set-up and my experience helps but we made a mistake on the last stage when we overshoot a corner and had to reverse.”

However, even if Ligato wins Guerra will pip him to the title by a single point providing he maintains his current fourth place. “The road surface today made it very difficult,” said Guerra. “It’s just like driving on snow and ice so I tried to keep my car in the road. Tomorrow I need to attack on the Tarmac to make it into the top three.”

Guerra’s team-mate Michal Kosciuszko, one of six title contenders in action in Spain, is also planning a full attack on the all-asphalt days two and three as he bids to climb the leaderboard. The Pole is third in class, 49.1s behind Lemes, who lost precious time this afternoon with a turbo issue.

Peruvian Nicolas Fuchs turned mechanic when his Impreza’s gearshift broke on stage five. He managed to fashion repairs in order to maintain fifth overall, one place ahead of Ukraine’s Valeriy Gorban, who was slowed by a bent suspension arm this morning and an off-road moment this afternoon. Subhan Aksa is seventh, one place ahead of Lorenzo Bertelli.

click: friday


WRC Academy Friday wrap:

Jose Suarez might hold top spot in FIA WRC Academy following the opening rain-hit day of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana but it was Pontus Tidemand who shone brighter still by going fastest in class on five out of six stages.

Tidemand, from Sweden, was leading by almost half a minute when a puncture dropped him back on stage five, handing the advantage to local hero Jose Suarez who, like Tidemand, is chasing his first victory in the young driver-training category.

“I am both happy and sad right now,” said Tidemand. “To win five out of six stages was fantastic, but then to lose three minutes with a puncture was such a big disappointment. But we are still in second place, which is good. Jose is over a minute ahead of us now so I think he will be hard to beat tomorrow, but we will try.”

Suarez, who starts the all-asphalt final day with a lead of 1m09.6s, said: “I am very happy with this position, but I am not about to lose my head. Tomorrow is a long day and anything can happen. I am really looking forward to setting some good times on Tarmac, but the main thing will be to make sure that we keep this position.”

After clinching the WRC Academy title on the previous round in France, Elfyn Evans is in third place alongside new co-driver Seb Marshall: “It has been a difficult start. It is a relatively new partnership with myself and Seb so it took us a while to settle into a grove. Unfortunately we also had a puncture on stage three so we found ourselves quite a bit behind.”

Brendan Reeves, who is in a battle with Suarez for the runner-up spot in the final title standings, is fourth endured a tough third stage when he picked up a puncture striking some concrete. He lost more time when, after rejoining, he got stuck behind Suarez for 10 kilometres.

Fredrik Ahlin is fifth despite getting stuck on stage three and being slowed in heavy rain on stage four. John MacCrone and Timo van der Marel both went off on stage five and got stuck. Both drivers hope to restart under Rally 2 rules on Saturday. Polish newcomer Aron Domzala is in eighth position.

click: WRC Academy friday


1,247 Posts
Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)

SS7: Latvala outguns Loeb

Jari-Matti Latvala has flown to his second stage win of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana with a storming time through Saturday’s opener, La Mussara, beating asphalt master Sebastien Loeb in the process.

Driving a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Latvala was 7.1s quicker than nine-time world champion Loeb, who has won in Spain on seven previous occasions for Citroen. “It’s a good start, the car is working really well,” said Latvala. “I’m surprised Sebastien was not flying on this stage but you never know, there is always something coming from him.”

Loeb said he wasn’t entirely happy with the handling of his DS3 WRC. “It was too hard for this condition, it should get dry later. I couldn’t trust the rear of the car, it was sliding and nervous and I didn’t want to take big risks.”

Nevertheless, the French legend has trimmed Mads Ostberg’s overall lead to 24.9s after what he described as a “careful” run in the cool and slightly damp conditions.

There was frustration for Spanish hero Dani Sordo, whose MINI John Cooper Works WRC dropped onto three cylinders midway through the stage. “I made a mistake yesterday so this can happen,” said Sordo. “It’s life and I will try to do something now. It’s frustrating because my time was very good until then.”

Thierry Neuville, back in action following his exit on Friday morning, reported a loss of brakes on his Citroen, while Ott Tanak said he found it difficult to get into the right rhythm at the stage start. Meanwhile, Evgeny Novikov said his car’s brakes lost performance with eight kilometres left to run.

click: ss7


SS8: Loeb flies, Ostberg falls

Sebastien Loeb has responded to Jari-Matti Latvala’s threat by winning Saturday’s second stage to take the overall lead of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana after Mads Ostberg dropped time going off the road 9.3 kilometres into the test.

Loeb was 1m06.2s quicker than Ostberg and 3.6s faster than Latvala, which hands him a lead of 16.3s over new second placed driver Latvala. Ostberg slips to third, 41.3s off top spot.

“Jari was pushing very hard in the first one so we had to react in this one,” said Citroen’s nine-time world rally champion Loeb. “I’ve pushed on the limit from the start to the end and I’m happy with my driving. For sure it’s a really tough fight.”

Despite losing only a handful of seconds on the 45.97-kilometre stage, held in damp conditions, Ford driver Latvala said he wasn’t happy with his performance. “I’m disappointed. I managed to be very good with him but at the end I started to lose time to him. I don’t know what happened but I made some mistakes and I need to get those away for the next time. The tyres started to move a bit and I started to hesitate.”

Ford privateer Ostberg said: “We had some information that the stage was 50 per cent dry, we put some hard tyres on, but for sure it was not. We went off quite early and lost 40s or something. We continued but hit a barrier later on. It was very difficult and I’m very disappointed.”

click: ss8


SS9: Loeb masters the mud

Sebastien Loeb made light of the tricky stage conditions to extend his lead of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana.

With the stage using the asphalt sections that featured on Terra Alta on day one, Citroen ace Loeb was one of several drivers to report a build up of mud and gravel on the road. With overnight rain also leaving the stage surface damp in some sections, Loeb admitted it had been a tricky run.

“It’s tricky because the stage was run in the opposite direction from yesterday,” said Loeb, who was 2.6s quicker than Ford rival Jari-Matti Latvala. “I try to be clean but it was still muddy and tricky. I have to push hard because Jari-Matti is pushing hard.”

Latvala, who is running third on the road, now trails Loeb by 18.9s. He said: “He’s going fast. I like this stage but the problem for me is it’s wet and the boys have been cutting and taking stuff onto the road. I felt it was understeering a lot.”

Overnight leader Mads Ostberg was 6.6s slower than Loeb. He is now 47.9s behind Loeb in third in the overall classification heading to service in Salou.

Spanish MINI driver Dani Sordo continues to be hobbled by the power glitch that struck on today’s first stage. “We still have the engine problem but we hope to find a solution in service,” he said.

There was drama in the Production Car World Rally Championship on stage eight when the top drivers overnight, Marcos Ligato and Yeray Lemes, both hit trouble with Ligato reporting a loss of brakes and Lemes being slowed by a transmission fault. Their misfortune means title leader Benito Guerra is now in front heading to stage nine.

click: ss9


1,247 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Saturday midday wrap:

Sebastien Loeb underlined his status as the FIA World Rally Championship's most successful driver by turning an overnight deficit of 27.2s into an advantage of 18.9s at the midday halt in Salou.

Loeb, who is chasing an eighth victory on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana, was trailing Mads Ostberg in the overall classification when the Norwegian went off the road less than 10 kilometres into Saturday’s second test, which featured some damp sections.

Jari-Matti Latvala also profited from Ostberg’s rare error to take second. The Finn is now 18.9s behind Frenchman Loeb with Ostberg 47.9s adrift of Loeb in third. “I’m having to push because Jari-Matti is pushing hard,” said factory Citroen driver Loeb, who has gone quickest on two out of the three all-asphalt stages this morning.

Latvala began day two with a rapid time through the first La Mussara stage but wasn’t happy with his efforts through the next run, the gruelling 45.97-kilometre El Priorat test. Like several rival drivers he encountered a build up of mud and gravel dragged onto the road on stage nine, which he completed 2.6s slower than Loeb.

Behind Ostberg, who lost more time on stage eight striking an Armco barrier, Mikko Hirvonen is fourth overall in the second works Citroen with Ott Tanak fifth and Hans Weijs sixth on his debut in a Qatar World Rally Team Citroen after overcoming an overshoot at a hairpin on stage seven.

Dani Sordo’s efforts to make up lost time following his exit on Friday morning have been hampered by a power glitch in his MINI. Thierry Neuville, who also restarted under Rally 2 rules, reported brake issues. Meanwhile, John Powell made it through stage seven but withdrew shortly afterwards suffering from an inner ear infection.

Craig Breen continues to hold a comfortable advantage over P-G Andersson in the Super 2000 World Rally Championship. But there has been high drama in the Production Car World Rally Championship with overnight leader Marcos Ligato dropping back with a brake glitch on stage eight, where second-place Yeray Lemes was slowed by a transmission problem.

Michal Koscisuzko, one of six PWRC title contenders prior to the start, went off the road in a long left-hand corner on stage nine, leaving team-mate and title leader Benito Guerra in the clear. Local hero Jose Suarez was on top in the WRC Academy after stage eight.

click: sat midday wrap


1,247 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
SS10: Hirvonen closes on Ostberg

Mads Ostberg has a new rival in his bid to finish third in the final FIA World Rally Championship standings after Mikko Hirvonen edged closer to the Norwegian on the second run through La Mussara.

Hirvonen, in a Citroen DS3 WRC, was 2.5s faster than Ostberg and is now 5.5s behind in the overall standings with two stages of day two remaining.

Ostberg, who said he wasn’t quite happy with the set-up of his privateer Ford Fiesta RS WRC, needs as many points as possible in his battle with Jari-Matti Latvala for third place in the final table. He plans to respond to Hirvonen’s threat by stiffening up his car for the next run.

Out front, Sebastien Loeb has grown his overall lead on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana to 21.0s after he outpaced his rival Latvala by 2.1s. “The conditions were much better than in the morning,” said Loeb. “We have all hard tyres and I tried really hard again. The feeling was really good with the car.”

Latvala added: “When there are patches of damp and dry it is not the strongest area for me but Loeb is really good. Maybe the car is too soft but there was nothing I could do more.”

Ott Tanak impressed with the second fastest time, 1.3s down on Loeb: “If I feel comfortable in the car and everything is working then I can do it,” said Tanak.

click: ss10


SS11: Hirvonen snatches third

Mikko Hirvonen has snatched third place on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana following the second run through El Priorat.

The Citroen driver was 17.6s quicker than Mads Ostberg to move 12.1s in front of the Ford privateer heading to Saturday’s final stage. “I really tried to push a little bit and find a good rhythm,” said Hirvonen. “I’m quite happy with that time.”

Ostberg, who slips to fourth overall after going 27.1s slower than event leader Sebastien Loeb, said: “The [soft] set-up is absolutely horrible and it’s not possible to drive the car. I just lose the grip everywhere when it’s drying up. I’m more sideways than straight. This is not good for the result - I guarantee we will lose a lot of time. It’s hopeless.”

Loeb, meanwhile, admitted to reducing his pace just slightly in the closing stages of the run. “I pushed really hard from the start and was too aggressive, which meant there was a little movement with the tyre at the middle. I took it a bit easy after that.”

Jari-Matti Latvala was 3.1s slower than Loeb and now trails the Frenchman in the overall classification by 24.1s. “The set-up was too soft, I needed a full dry set-up but unfortunately I didn’t have it,” said Latvala. “The car was moving too much and I didn’t get the best confidence.”

Spaniard Dani Sordo, who was quickest of all on stage 10 in his MINI, has yet to complete the run but has recorded a number of fastest split times so far.

click: ss11


SS12: Tanak closes on third

Ott Tanak has compounded a miserable day for Mads Ostberg by snatching fourth place from the overnight leader on Saturday’s final stage with a rapid run.

Tanak was 0.4s quicker than RallyRACC-Rally de Espana leader Sebastien Loeb and 9.2s faster than Ostberg to move 2.6s in front of the Norwegian, who is at the wheel of a similar Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

“It’s very good,” said Tanak, who is now 14.7s behind third-placed Mikko Hirvonen, in a Citroen DS3 WRC. “I was a bit cautious in the beginning but for sure I was taking some risks after that. It’s damp and dirty in some places, the car feels really good and I have a very good feeling.”

Ostberg said: “It’s been absolutely horrible for me. I have not got a clue what is happening. There must be something wrong because the car is impossible to drive.”

Hirvonen was 4.0s adrift of Tanak’s pace. He said: “It’s been a good day, slowly getting better but I always want more so I am not completely happy.”

Meanwhile, Loeb’s advantage over second-placed Jari-Matti Latvala increases to 27.0s heading to the overnight halt in Salou.

click: ss12


1,247 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Saturday wrap:

Jari-Matti Latvala admits Sebastien Loeb can't be caught in the battle for first place on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana, which switched to all-asphalt stages today following the mainly gravel tests on Friday.

Citroen’s nine-time world champion has outpaced Ford driver Latvala for much of day two and starts Sunday’s six closing stages of the FIA World Rally Championship season finale with an advantage of 27.0s.

“I can’t catch him,” said Latvala. “I’m not disappointed, that’s the way it is. He’s fantastic on Tarmac. I need to work more and learn.”

Loeb, who is contesting his last event as a full-time WRC driver, said: “It’s been a good day for me, quite tricky condition in the first loop with wet roads and slippery in some places. There was a lot of gravel on the road and a risk of puncture but, okay, no problem. At the moment I am feeling well in the car. Jari-Matti was pushing very hard at the start of the day but for me the feeling was really good so I continued to push.”

Mads Ostberg began Saturday’s first test leading by 27.2s following a hugely impressive showing on Friday’s rain-hit mainly gravel stages. But his challenge would soon unravel when he opted to use a combination of hard and soft compound tyres in a diagonal formation for the first run through the damp El Priorat on Saturday morning where he suffered a time-consuming off.

And there was more frustration in the afternoon due to set-up issues, which caused the Norwegian to struggle for performance in his privateer Fiesta. He is now 1m31.4s of top spot in fifth overall, which could have a huge bearing on his efforts to beat Latvala to third place in the final championship standings.

Ott Tanak completed a strong afternoon by winning stage 12, a result that puts him 14.7s behind Mikko Hirvonen, who holds third overnight in the second factory Citroen. Behind Ostberg, Hans Weijs remains on course to score WRC points in sixth place on his first run in a World Rally Car.

Super 2000 World Rally Championship leader Craig Breen is seventh with Evgeny Novikov eighth and Jarkko Nikara ninth after a handful of moments in his Prodrive MINI in the afternoon, which included a spin on stage 11 and contact with a barrier on stage 12. P-G Andersson completes the top 10 for PROTON, one place ahead of WRC Team MINI Portugal’s Chris Atkinson.

Following a frustrating morning when his MINI’s engine dropped onto three cylinders, Dani Sordo fought back in the afternoon with two fastest stage times after his Prodrive team restored the car to full working order at midday service by replacing a faulty injector.

click: wrap


SWRC saturday wrap:

A trouble-free run throughout day two of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana has helped Craig Breen move one step closer to being crowned the winner of this year's FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship.

With a lead of 3m19.6s over Sweden’s P-G Andersson (pictured left with Breen) starting Sunday’s final six stages, the Irishman is seemingly in control at the wheel of his Ford Fiesta S2000.

“I’ve been coasting around and if I could go any slower I would,” said the 22-year-old. “Everything has gone according to plan today and although it’s been hairy out there on the stages we’ve been taking things very carefully. There’s quite a bit of pressure not to make a mistake and every little noise makes me panic that there might be something wrong. Now I just need to keep my fingers crossed we can get to the finish with no problems.”

PROTON driver Andersson dropped out of contention for victory with a broken driveshaft and an off on Friday. He’ll need Breen to falter to stand any chance of capturing the crown.

Yazeed Al-Rajhi, meanwhile, can also take the title having restarted under Rally 2 when turbo failure put him out on day one. “We just need to keep the concentration going,” said Al-Rajhi, who is more than 10 minutes behind Andersson. “We had no problems today and it’s good that we are third even after our retirement yesterday. Now we just need to drive safely tomorrow and hope that we make no mistakes.”

After a strong performance at the wheel of a second PROTON, Britain’s Alastair Fisher holds fourth following his restart this morning. Rounding off the top five is Hayden Paddon, who returned to the action after going off on Friday. The New Zealander has set several impressive stage times during the course of today.

click: sat wrap


1,247 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
PWRC saturday wrap:

With a commanding lead of almost six minutes, Benito Guerra is set to secure the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship for 2012 when the season concludes on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana tomorrow.

After overnight leader Marcos Ligato dropped back with brake issues and with a transmission glitch affecting Yeray Lemes on Saturday’s second stage, Guerra was in front when team-mate and closest title rival Michal Kosciuszko crashed out from second on stage nine.

“I’m really happy, today was a great day,” said Mexican Guerra, who heads Indonesia’s Subhan Aksa by 5m56.5s. “I’m now very close to achieving my goal so we just need to keep focused and keep everything on the road. I can’t make any mistakes so tomorrow will just be about getting to the end without any problems. We are in a very comfortable position but I am sure that the six stages left will feel very long.”

Ukraine’s Valeriy Gorban had been in second for Mentos Ascania Racing when brake woes dropped his Mitsubishi Lancer behind Aksa who, like Gorban, can win the title if Guerra hits trouble on day three.

Ligato, who is fourth tonight, lost six minutes on today’s second stage due to brake problems, dropping him to fourth. “There’s not much else I can do,” said the Argentine. “It’s not over until the results are final so now we must push to try and gain some more positions.”

Spanish wildcard Josep Membrado is fifth overnight with Italian Lorenzo Bertelli overcoming a double picture to complete day two in sixth position. Kosciuszko is set to restart under Rally 2 rules in seventh place but would need several drivers to falter if he is to snatch the title from Ralliart Italia team-mate Guerra.

click: sat wrap


Saturday WRC Academy wrap:

Jose Suarez's co-driver Candido Carrera celebrated their maiden victory in the FIA WRC Academy by paying tribute to Gareth Roberts, last year's champion navigator who lost his life in a crash competing on a rally in Sicily back in June.

Roberts partnered Craig Breen to the inaugural WRC Academy crown in 2011 and was a popular competitor. Carrera’s success on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana today means he finishes on top of the final co-drivers’ standings this season with Suarez securing the runner-up spot to Elfyn Evans in the drivers’ table.

“I am very happy,” said Carrera. “My driver was fantastic and this [result] is very important for me because it’s in memory of my friend Gareth Roberts.”

Suarez moved in front on Friday’s fifth stage when a puncture slowed Pontus Tidemand. Starting day two with an advantage of 1m09.6s, Suarez drove without error to maintain his overnight lead of 1m09.6s, which he extended by almost 10s over Tidemand at the finish in Salou this evening.

Evans completed his title-winning season with his fifth podium finish in third alongside new co-driver Seb Marshall. John MacCrone returned under Rally 2 rules on day two and claimed a brace of stage wins on his way to fourth overall. Timo van der Marel finished fifth with Brendan Reeves sixth and newcomer Aron Domzala seventh. Fredrik Ahlin was in fourth when he crashed heavily on stage 10.

click: WRC Academy sat wrap


1,247 Posts
Discussion Starter #12

SS13: Sordo on a charge

Dani Sordo has thrilled the thousands of fans on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana by going fastest on Sunday’s opening test in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC.

In dry and bright conditions Sordo was 2.1s quicker than event leader Sebastien Loeb. He said: “The car on this stage was unbelievable. The balance was really nice and I was happy with the tyres. It’s a really nice stage and I was pushing really hard.”

Loeb, in a Citroen DS3 WRC, has grown his overall advantage ahead of Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala to 27.5s. He said: “It was really good, a clean road, nearly completely dry and no tricky places. I was not doing any big pushing but still I had a good rhythm so it was okay.”

Latvala, who is carrying two soft compound spare tyres compared to the one hard spare in Loeb’s car, said: “He’s going really, really fast. I have no chance against him. I was pretty happy with my driving. I improved my set-up but it’s not enough.”

Belgian youngster Thierry Neuville impressed with the fourth best time for the Citroen Junior World Rally Team.

Mikko Hirvonen and Ott Tanak, in third and fourth overall respectively starting day three, weren’t entirely happy with their performances at the stage finish. Tanak was 6.4s down on Sordo with Hirvonen 7.1s adrift.

Mads Ostberg, meanwhile, was more satisfied after set-up changes overnight transformed the handling of his privateer Fiesta after going sixth quickest, 6.9s down on Sordo. “I did a very big change for the car, which helped a lot and I have some parts with me that will make it even better,” said the Norwegian, who remains in fifth overall.

Petter Solberg is running on soft compound tyres on his factory Fiesta. “We just want to test and compare with Jari,” he said.

Evgeny Novikov, who has been saddled with a 10-minute time penalty when it was discovered the depth of his tyre tread was below the 1.6-milimetre limit, admitted to “driving slowly” due to concerns over tyre wear.

click: spain ss13


SS14: Tanak error aids Ostberg

Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala shrugged of rain and damp conditions to outgun Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb by 2.6s and narrow the nine-time world champion’s lead on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana to 24.9s as Dani Sordo set the pace once again, going fastest by 5.5s for MINI.

However, in the battle for third place in the final championship standings, a mistake by Ott Tanak could have handed Mads Ostberg a lifeline.

The Norwegian has moved ahead of the Estonian into fourth place overall and two positions behind key rival Jari-Matti Latvala. The current order means Latvala will finish on 151 points and Ostberg on 149. However, Ostberg can move ahead of Latvala if he lands three points for going fastest on this afternoon’s Power Stage providing Latvala is outside the top three places. But with Latvala outpacing Loeb on this stage, it still remains a tall order for Ostberg.

Ostberg, who trails third-placed Mikko Hirvonen by 19.2s, said: “I’m still struggling. When the tyres are hot the balance is not perfect but apart from that it’s working quite okay. I will keep pushing but unless it’s raining in the afternoon and it gets difficult I have no chance to catch Mikko.”

Tanak, now 1.9s behind Ostberg in fifth, said he was “surprised” to have reached the finish following his error: “We went off and hit the barrier. It was quite a big crash and I’m surprised the car is still running. We lost at least 10 seconds, it was quite a big accident.”

Loeb, meanwhile, opted for a slightly cautious approach in the damp conditions as he bids to preserve his overall lead.

click: spain ss14


SS15: Hat-trick for Sordo

Dani Sordo has made it a hat-trick of stage wins on the final morning of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana despite making a small mistake in his Prodrive MINI John Cooper Works WRC.

Sordo was 0.6s faster than Jari-Matti Latvala through the 4.11-kilometre test and reckoned he could have gone even quicker: “I make a mistake in the middle when I did not understand very well if it was a left or right crest and lost one second. I am very happy with the car, it’s really nice.”

Latvala was second fastest, 0.2s quicker than Sebastien Loeb and heads to service in Salou trailing the Citroen ace and rally leader by 24.7s. “It’s good but it’s not a lot to be honest,” said Latvala. “The differences are very small but it’s positive to be going in the right direction.”

Meanwhile, a spin for Ott Tanak has all but ended the Estonian’s bid for a second consecutive podium in the FIA World Rally Championship. “I had a spin, I was pushing too much in some places,” said Tanak, who is almost 30s behind third-placed Mikko Hirvonen in fifth overall.

Hans Weijs has stopped approximately 2.5 kilometres into the stage in his Qatar World Rally Team Citroen with possible suspension damage. His misfortune means Jarkko Nikara is up to sixth overall in his MINI.

Drivers reported slippery conditions with mud and gravel on the road in some places. Following a 30-minute service halt in Salou, stage 16, Riudecanyes 2, gets underway at 11:52hrs local time.

click: spain ss15


Sunday midday wrap:

Sebastien Loeb is three stages away from winning RallyRACC-Rally de Espana for the eighth time after he completed Sunday morning's loop of three stages with a lead of 24.7s.

Loeb, who will call time on his career as a full-time driver in the FIA World Rally Championship later today, has adopted a degree of caution this morning with light rain and damp conditions affecting the stages.

“For sure winning this rally would be better than losing and for sure I would like to win but I will be back for some rallies next year so it is not like I stop now,” said the factory Citroen driver. “My feeling is good but it’s important not to make a mistake. I am not relaxed but I think my gap is enough to keep the position.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, meanwhile, remains on course to snatch third place from Mads Ostberg in the final drivers’ standings. Latvala is second overall for the works Ford squad but still needs to score points on the Power Stage this afternoon assuming Ostberg continues to hold fourth place behind Citroen’s Mikko Hirvonen.

Ostberg started the day in fifth place but moved ahead of Ott Tanak when the young Estonian spun into a barrier on stage 14 and lost time, slipping to fifth in the process.

While Loeb has driven slightly conservatively, Dani Sordo has thrown caution to the wind by claiming three stage bests in his Prodrive-run MINI John Cooper Works WRC. The Spaniard is out of contention for a points finish after picking up a handful of lateness penalties while his mechanics rushed to replace a faulty fuel injector in midday service on Saturday. He has vowed to win as many stages as possible.

Behind Tanak, Jarkko Nikara has moved into sixth place in the second Prodrive MINI after Hans Weijs stopped with suspected suspension damage on stage 15.

Craig Breen continues to lead the Super 2000 World Rally Championship with Benito Guerra on top in the Production Car World Rally Championship.

click: sunday midday


1,247 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
SS16: Tanak crashes, Latvala fastest

Ott Tanak’s first season in the FIA World Rally Championship’s big league is over after he crashed out of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana.

Tanak was in fifth place on the WRC season-closer when he struck a barrier in a high-speed section in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC, fortunately without injury to neither he nor co-driver Kuldar Sikk.

With the bulk of the leading runners opting for a mixture of soft and hard compound tyres to counter the threat of rain on stage 17, Jari-Matti Latvala was fastest for the works Ford team, ending Dani Sordo’s run of stage wins by 0.3s after the Spaniard reported slowing down slightly at the scene of Tanak’s crash.

Citroen’s event leader Sebastien Loeb was third quickest, 4.9s down on Latvala. However, his margin ahead of the Finn is now 19.8s with two stages remaining.

Ford privateer Mads Ostberg has closed on third-placed Mikko Hirvonen by outpacing the Citroen driver by 4.6s. The gap between them is now 15.3s. “I was pushing quite hard in the beginning,” said Ostberg. “We’ve made some changes and the car is better now but there’s too much time to catch to Mikko.”

click: spain ss16


SS17: Latvala wins Power Stage

Jari-Matti Latvala has thanked the factory Ford team after winning RallyRACC-Rally de Espana’s Power Stage to earn three FIA World Rally Championship bonus points.

Latvala, who beat event leader Sebastien Loeb by 10.7s to cut the nine-time title winner’s advantage to 9.1s with one stage remaining, said advice from his engineers to use hard compound tyres paid dividends.

“I have to be honest and say thank you to the team,” said Latvala. “We did absolutely the correct choice. We were expecting only a little rain so hard tyres was the right decision. Unfortunately we are now running out of kilometres [to catch Loeb].”

Latvala’s performance means he is virtually assured of third place in the final drivers’ standings ahead of Mads Ostberg, who trails Mikko Hirvonen in fourth overall.

Ostberg narrowed the gap to Hirvonen to 7.2s but has conceded the deficit is too great for the final 4.11-kilometre test. “I tried at least,” said Ostberg, who was fourth quickest and outside of the bonus point positions. “I couldn’t do anything more. That’s it.”

Dani Sordo was second fastest to earn two bonus points in his Prodrive-run MINI. “It was impossible to do the best time when there is raining,” said Sordo. “Jari-Matti do really well in the stage before but on this stage it was all the time with the wipers and in the middle it was sliding and wet [but dry for him].”

While Latvala flew, Loeb rued his decision to use a combination of soft and hard compound tyres in the mistaken belief it would rain heavily on the stage. “It was not wet enough, we expected rain but we got just a few drops,” said Loeb, who claimed the final bonus point with the third best time for Citroen. “We had two softs and two hards [tyres] and we really pushed hard to do this time. We are still in the lead but the gap will be a bit smaller now. There are only four kilometres to go so we will see.”

click: ss17


SS18: Sordo wins stage, Loeb wins rally

Dani Sordo has brought the curtain down on the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship season by winning the final stage of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana.

The Spanish ace’s stage best by 0.1s was his fourth of the day in his Prodrive-run MINI. He said: “It’s really a nice end of the rally. We make a mistake on the first day then we had a small problem with the car. But we have been fighting for the best times, which is very good and I am happy to finish the year like this.”

Jari-Matti Latvala ended his career as a factory Ford driver by going second fastest. The Finn, who will switch to Volkswagen Motorsport from next year, was 2.1s quicker than Sebastien Loeb, who claimed his 76th WRC victory for Citroen by 7.0s.

Thierry Neuville and Evgeny Novikov shared the third fastest time, 1.4s down on Sordo, with Mikko Hirvonen fifth quickest and Loeb sixth. Hirvonen’s performance means he pips Mads Ostberg to the final podium spot. Ostberg was eighth quickest to finish in fourth overall.

An emotional Craig Breen secured the Super 2000 World Rally Championship five months since his co-driver Gareth Roberts lost his life in a crash on a rally in Sicily.

Meanwhile, Benito Guerra clinched the Production Car World Rally Championship title.

click: ss18


1,247 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Sunday wrap:

Sebastien Loeb marked his final outing as a full-time driver in the FIA World Rally Championship with the 76th victory of his career on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana, which finished in Salou this afternoon following three days of thrilling competition.

After struggling for pace through Friday’s rain-hit, mainly gravel tests, Loeb moved in front on the asphalt of day two and remained at the head of the field thereafter in his Citroen Total World Rally Team DS3 WRC.

The win, shared with co-driver Daniel Elena, was their eighth in Spain and the 250th in the WRC for tyre partner Michelin.

Jari-Matti Latvala signed-off as a factory Ford driver in second place with Mikko Hirvonen third in the second works Citroen. Latvala’s finishing position and victory on the Power Stage this afternoon earned sufficient points to land third in the final drivers’ table ahead of Mads Ostberg, who led after day one but slipped back on day two with set-up issues and a costly spin.

“For sure I really wanted to win this rally,” said Loeb, who is targeting a partial programme of WRC events in 2013 as he revs up for a planned assault on the FIA World Touring Car Championship with Citroen two years from now. “We were really struggling in the start because it was really tricky on the first day. On the Tarmac I was able to take the lead but today was not easy because we had some strange tyre choice and Jari-Matti was pushing very hard and getting closer.”

Loeb opted for a combination of soft and hard compound Michelin covers for Sunday’s closing trio of stages in the belief it would be raining in the middle test - the 26.51-kilometre Santa Marina Power Stage.

However, while it was damp in sections due to light drizzle, the anticipated heavy deluge didn’t materialise and Loeb’s tyre choice proved far from ideal for the conditions. Latvala, meanwhile, opted for hard compound tyres and set two fastest stage times to narrow Loeb’s winning margin to seven seconds.

“I would like to have done one more stage because it has been good to fight with Loeb,” said Latvala, who will join Volkswagen Motorsport from 2013 as his former team M-Sport prepares for a new era following Ford’s decision to end its WRC sponsorship. “I have had some fantastic years with Ford and thanks to Malcolm Wilson for being so supportive even though I’ve had many crashes.”

Ford privateer Mads Ostberg finished fourth, 9.6s behind Hirvonen, with Jarkko Nikara moving up to a fine fifth after Ott Tanak and Hans Weijs both crashed out. Craig Breen secured the Super 2000 World Rally Championship crown in a career-best sixth overall with Chris Atkinson seventh for WRC Team MINI Portugal.

P-G Andersson finished eighth for PROTON with Dani Sordo battling back to ninth following early delays. But it was a case of what might have been for the Spaniard, who won a total of six stages, including four on Sunday, in his Prodrive-run MINI. Evgeny Novikov beat Petter Solberg to the final drivers’ championship point in tenth despite a 10-minute penalty when the tread depth of his soft-compound DMACK tyres was found to be under the 1.6-milimetre minimum requirement due to excessive wear on Saturday afternoon’s dry stages.

click: wrap


Sunday SWRC wrap:

Craig Breen has clinched the FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship with an emotional victory on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana today.

With a lead of 3m19.6s over Sweden’s P-G Andersson starting Sunday’s final six stages, the Irishman drove without error to the finish in Salou in his Tom Gahan Motorsport Ford Fiesta to make it two FIA titles in as many seasons.

In 2011 Breen and Gareth Roberts won the inaugural FIA WRC Academy Cup and they used the scholarship prize on offer to step up to the SWRC.

“This is incredible, it’s beyond my wildest dreams,” said the 22-year-old, who resumed his driving career in the summer following the death of his co-driver Roberts on an accident on the Targa Florio Rally in Sicily back in June. “I really couldn’t have done this without everybody’s support and good wishes so I’d like to take this moment to thank each and everyone of you. It’s the perfect attribute to Gareth too and I am so happy to have won this title for him.”

PROTON driver Andersson dropped out of title-winning contention when he suffered a significant time loss from a broken driveshaft and an off on Friday. The Swede battled back but was unable to make up the lost time and challenge Breen for the win.

“Of course I would like to have won but Craig deserves this title,” said Andersson at the finish. “We had a high speed spin on stage 17 and we couldn’t catch Craig unless something happened to him so it was just about getting to the end of the rally.”

With Breen’s replacement co-driver Paul Nagle only contesting the final four events of the year, Andersson’s co-driver Emil Axelsson bagged the co-drivers’ accolade, six years after he partnered Patrik Sandell to the Junior world title.

Saudi driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi had an outside chance of winning the SWRC crown in Spain but a turbo failure on day one put him out. He restarted on day two to finish in third. “This has been a big season for me, I have learned a lot thanks to my team and co-driver [Michael Orr]. I hope to be back next year,” said Al-Rajhi at the finish.

After a strong debut performance at the wheel of a second PROTON, Alastair Fisher finished fourth with New Zealander Hayden Paddon battling back to fifth as both drivers relied on Rally 2 rules to get to the end.

click: SWRC sunday wrap

...^just awesome congrats to Craig & respect to "Jaffa" (Gareth Roberts) :D


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Discussion Starter #15
Sunday PWRC wrap:

Benito Guerra has described winning a six-way battle for FIA Production World Rally Championship glory on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana as the best day of his life.

With an advantage of almost six minutes starting the final day, it was a case of keeping his concentration and coaxing his Mitsubishi Lancer to the finish. Apart from overheating brakes in the morning, little troubled the Mexican, who secured the PWRC title with his third victory of the season alongside co-driver Borja Rozada from Spain.

“I think this is the best day of my life,” said Guerra. “This is the first FIA title for me and for Mexico and the feeling is like nothing I have experienced before. I think this will also bring me new opportunities and new sponsors, maybe I will even step up to a World Rally Car. Thanks to everyone who helped me win this weekend.”

Argentina’s Marcos Ligato had led after day one only for brake woes to drop him back. He eventually finished second after snatching the spot from Subhan Aksa when the Indonesian hit trouble on stage 16. Ligato’s efforts earned him the coveted runner-up spot in the final table ahead of Ukraine’s Valeriy Gorban, who finished fourth in Spain behind Aksa.

Poland’s Michal Kosciuszko restarted on Sunday following his off on day two to take sixth on the rally behind Italy’s Lorenzo Bertelli and fourth in the final standings. Aksa finishes fifth in the overall standings with Nicolas Fuchs sixth. The Peruvian retired on Saturday’s first stage after his brakes caught fire. He restarted and finished ninth.

Spanish wildcard Yeray Lemes also restarted under Rally 2 rules after dropping out with a mechanical fault on Saturday. He impressed by winning all six stages on Sunday.

click: PWRC sunday wrap


and thats it for WRC 2012 ...see you in the New Year...Next year’s WRC season fires into life on Rallye Monte-Carlo on 15 January 2013, 65 days from now. :D

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