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: wrc.com/spain 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: wrc.com/sspain 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: wrc.com/spain ss12