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: wrc.com/spain 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.”
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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: wrc.com/spain ss9