pieces...^I know mate but thanks for the clarification
see pic in ref SS4 news/image
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: wrc.com/Friday 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: wrc.com/SWRC friday wrap