WRC Ogier delivers masterclass to lead after two days of Rally Spain
RALLYRACC - RALLY DE ESPAÑA 2022, October 20-23, 2022
2022 FIA World Rally Championship, round 12
For immediate release
Saturday, October 22nd, 2022
OGIER DELIVERS MASTERCLASS TO LEAD AFTER TWO DAYS OF RALLY DE ESPAÑA
• Neuville snatches second place from World Champion Rovanperä
• Suninen leads from Rossel in WRC2; Lindholm holds title advantage
SALOU (Spain): Sébastien Ogier delivered a clinical performance to win three further stages and extend his lead in RallyRACC-Rally de España to 20.7 seconds on Saturday evening.
Partnered by co-driver Benjamin Veillas, the Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 driver pressed home his advantage over the sinuous dry asphalt roads to the north of Salou and is firmly on course to record a fourth success in Spain and his first WRC win since claiming an eighth title with victory at ACI Rally Monza last year.
“It’s a good lead,” said the 38-year-old Frenchman. “A good day. Now we have to make sure we keep it going the same way tomorrow.”
Toyota team-mate and new World Champion Kalle Rovanperä was no match for the flying Frenchman and became embroiled in his own battle with Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville for second place. Four-tenths of a second separated them before the Salou spectator stage, but a joint fastest time by the Belgian enabled him to slip through and grab the position on the sea front. Just 1.4 seconds split the duo at the night halt.
Ott Tänak finished the day in a solid fourth place in the second of the Hyundais and a resurgent local hero Dani Sordo found his confidence and renewed vigour during the afternoon to record a stage win and pull away from sixty-placed Elfyn Evans to hold a secure fifth.
Ireland’s Craig Breen was the highest-placed of the M-Sport Ford Puma drivers in seventh, while Japan’s Takamoto Katsuta found himself sandwiched between the Pumas in eighth in a fourth Toyota. The French duo of Adrien Fourmaux and Pierre-Louis Loubet rounded off the top 10 for the Blue Oval.
Gus Greensmith was the first major retirement after a high-speed accident on the 11th stage. The M-Sport Ford Puma driver had been holding 10th overall. It was the Briton’s second similar retirement in as many rallies.
Finland’s Teemu Suninen managed to pull clear of Yohan Rossel and Nikolai Gryazin in the battle for WRC2 honours. The Hyundai driver held a 26.6-second lead at the night halt, while fellow countryman Emil Lindholm held fourth and had the better of sixth-placed Polish rival Kajetan Kajetanowicz in the fight for the overall title.
In the showdown for the FIA WRC3 Drivers’ Championship, Lauri Joona and Jan Černý have traded stage times all event in a winner-takes-all scenario. The Finn held an advantage of just one-tenth of a second heading to the Salou spectator stage. A thrilling duel is on the cards for Sunday.
Saturday - as it happened
Jourdan Serderidis was given the task of opening the road at the start of day two with two loops of three stages on the agenda to the north of Salou. A first pass though the Savallá (13.93km) speed test was first up: Ogier was hoping to defend his 3.6-second overall lead, Suninen was running 11.9 seconds ahead of Gryazin in WRC2 and Joona topped the WRC3 times in his Ford Fiesta Rally3.
Loubet set the early target of 7min 28.0sec but ceded 1.1 seconds to his M-Sport team-mate Greensmith in the tussle for positions at the rear of the top 10. Eighth-placed Katsuta edged a little further clear of Fourmaux and Breen took a nibble into Evans’s grip on sixth and reduced the gap to 1.8 seconds.
Tänak ran quicker but the Estonian dropped another 2.1 seconds behind Neuville in the battle for third. Rovanperä also ceded 1.5 seconds to the Belgian and Ogier also failed to beat the Belgian but saw his overall lead increase to 5.4 seconds.
The Querol-Les Pobles (20.19km) test was next up and Greensmith pulled a further 5.9 seconds clear of Loubet in the battle for 10th. Fourmaux increased the cushion over his team-mate but dropped 1.8 to Katsuta, while Evans moved 6.2 seconds ahead of Breen in the duel for sixth and closed to within three seconds of a frustrated fifth-placed Sordo.
Neuville went fastest and continued to edge clear of Tänak and Rovanperä saw his hold on second place whittled down to 4.5 seconds. Ogier saved the best until last, however, and extended his lead to 9.7 seconds with the fastest time. Suninen continued to pull clear of Gryazin and Rossel in WRC2.
A first pass through the famous El Montmell (24.18km) speed test wrapped up a compact morning loop of three stages before the return to Salou.
Loubet laid down the gauntlet on the longest stage of the rally with a 12min 16.6sec but the stage was red-flagged when Greensmith carried too much speed into the corner, lost control of his Puma, spun sideways and swiped the back of the car into the Armco, the impact removing a rear wheel and suspension from the damaged M-Sport car. The Briton’s demise lifted Loubet into 10th.
Fourmaux, Katsuta and Breen were already in the stage when the incident occurred and officials at the RACC decided to run the remaining cars through at road speed as a liaison section with action resuming as normal for the afternoon loop. A notional time of 12min 16.6sec was later handed to all the Priority 1 cars.
Dry conditions were again prevalent for the re-run of Savallá and eighth-placed Katsuta carded the early benchmark of 7min 28.1sec to edge even further away from Fourmaux. The battle for fifth swung back in Sordo’s favour when the Spaniard pipped Evans by 1.9 seconds to stretch his lead to 4.9.
Tänak ran faster than his earlier rivals to set a 7min 25.9sec target and reduced Neuville’s hold on third to 12.4 seconds. Rovanperä also beat the Belgian to edge five seconds ahead of the Hyundai driver, but Ogier recorded another fastest time and increased his lead to 12 seconds.
Katsuta continued to edge clear of Fourmaux after the re-run of Querol-Les Pobles but was not able to make in-roads into Breen’s grip on seventh. Meanwhile, the Irishman ceded 2.4 seconds to Evans who was struggling to match a resurgent Sordo in the battle for fifth.
Tänak trimmed Neuville’s hold on third by 1.3 seconds and Rovanperä safely maintained his second position. But Ogier continued to deliver a masterclass and another fastest time enabled the eight-time World Champion to surge into a 15.9-second lead. French veteran Stéphane Sarrazin retired from the WRC2 contest, where Suninen continued to lead from Rossel and Gryazin.
The last of the day’s tarmac stages in the hills was El Montmell 2 and Katsuta enjoyed the high-speed challenge to pull further away from Fourmaux. The Japanese also trimmed Breen’s hold on seventh to 17.2 seconds, although the Irishman had been working on the suspension geometry and set-up of the Ford and slipped a further 3.3 behind Evans.
Growing in confidence, a flying Sordo threw caution to the wind and set a sensational fastest time of 12min 06.1sec to storm away from Evans and edge closer to fourth-placed Tänak. Neuville came home five seconds behind the Spaniard but was now within four-tenths of second-placed Rovanperä. Ogier was third quickest and took a 21.1-second lead back to the spectator stage in Salou.
The slippery surface on the sea front delighted the massive crowd in the setting sun and Neuville and Tänak tied for the fastest time of 2min 27.1sec. That performance enabled the Belgian to move 1.4 seconds ahead of Rovanperä and claim second place.
The Pradip (12.15km) and Riudecanyes (15.90km) stages will be run twice apiece on Sunday morning, with the latter acting as the Wolf Power Stage to wrap up the competition from 12.18hrs. The first pass through Pradip is the only true stage of the rally to be run in darkness with the first car due at 07.00hrs.
RallyRACC-Rally de España 2022 – positions after SS15:
1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 2hr 10min 18.5sec
2. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL) Hyundai i20 N Rally1 2hr 10min 39.2sec
3. Kalle Rovanperä (FIN)/Jonne Halttunen (FIN) Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 2hr 10min 40.6sec
4. Ott Tänak (EST)/Martin Järveoja (EST) Hyundai i20 N Rally1 2hr 10min 55.1sec
5. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Candido Carrera (ESP) Hyundai i20 N Rally1 2hr 11min 31.7sec
6. Elfyn Evans (GBR)/Scott Martin (GBR) Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 2hr 11min 46.1sec
7. Craig Breen (IRL)/Paul Nagle (IRL) Ford Puma Rally1 2hr 11min 58.2sec
8. Takamoto Katsuta (JPN)/Aaron Johnston (IRL) Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 2hr 12min 17.1sec
9. Adrien Fourmaux (FRA)/Alexandre Coria (FRA) Ford Puma Rally1 2hr 12min 32.2sec
10. Pierre Louis Loubet (FRA)/Vincent Landais (FRA) Ford Puma Rally1 2hr 13min 17.7sec
SS1-2 Kalle Rovanperä
SS3 Sébastien Ogier
SS4 Thierry Neuville
SS5-15 Sébastien Ogier
SS1 Kalle Rovanperä
SS2 Kalle Rovanperä
SS3 Sébastien Ogier
SS4 Thierry Neuville
SS5 Sébastien Ogier
SS6 Kalle Rovanperä
SS7 Kalle Rovanperä
SS8 Sébastien Ogier
SS9 Thierry Neuville
SS10 Sébastien Ogier
SS12 Sébastien Ogier
SS13 Sébastien Ogier
SS14 Dani Sordo
SS15 Thierry Neuville/Ott Tänak
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