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.
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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.com/ WRC Academy friday