SS16: Tanak crashes, Latvala fastest
Ott Tanak’s first season in the FIA World Rally Championship’s big league is over after he crashed out of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana.
Tanak was in fifth place on the WRC season-closer when he struck a barrier in a high-speed section in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC, fortunately without injury to neither he nor co-driver Kuldar Sikk.
With the bulk of the leading runners opting for a mixture of soft and hard compound tyres to counter the threat of rain on stage 17, Jari-Matti Latvala was fastest for the works Ford team, ending Dani Sordo’s run of stage wins by 0.3s after the Spaniard reported slowing down slightly at the scene of Tanak’s crash.
Citroen’s event leader Sebastien Loeb was third quickest, 4.9s down on Latvala. However, his margin ahead of the Finn is now 19.8s with two stages remaining.
Ford privateer Mads Ostberg has closed on third-placed Mikko Hirvonen by outpacing the Citroen driver by 4.6s. The gap between them is now 15.3s. “I was pushing quite hard in the beginning,” said Ostberg. “We’ve made some changes and the car is better now but there’s too much time to catch to Mikko.”
click: wrc.com/ spain ss16
SS17: Latvala wins Power Stage
Jari-Matti Latvala has thanked the factory Ford team after winning RallyRACC-Rally de Espana’s Power Stage to earn three FIA World Rally Championship bonus points.
Latvala, who beat event leader Sebastien Loeb by 10.7s to cut the nine-time title winner’s advantage to 9.1s with one stage remaining, said advice from his engineers to use hard compound tyres paid dividends.
“I have to be honest and say thank you to the team,” said Latvala. “We did absolutely the correct choice. We were expecting only a little rain so hard tyres was the right decision. Unfortunately we are now running out of kilometres [to catch Loeb].”
Latvala’s performance means he is virtually assured of third place in the final drivers’ standings ahead of Mads Ostberg, who trails Mikko Hirvonen in fourth overall.
Ostberg narrowed the gap to Hirvonen to 7.2s but has conceded the deficit is too great for the final 4.11-kilometre test. “I tried at least,” said Ostberg, who was fourth quickest and outside of the bonus point positions. “I couldn’t do anything more. That’s it.”
Dani Sordo was second fastest to earn two bonus points in his Prodrive-run MINI. “It was impossible to do the best time when there is raining,” said Sordo. “Jari-Matti do really well in the stage before but on this stage it was all the time with the wipers and in the middle it was sliding and wet [but dry for him].”
While Latvala flew, Loeb rued his decision to use a combination of soft and hard compound tyres in the mistaken belief it would rain heavily on the stage. “It was not wet enough, we expected rain but we got just a few drops,” said Loeb, who claimed the final bonus point with the third best time for Citroen. “We had two softs and two hards [tyres] and we really pushed hard to do this time. We are still in the lead but the gap will be a bit smaller now. There are only four kilometres to go so we will see.”
click: wrc.com/spain ss17
SS18: Sordo wins stage, Loeb wins rally
Dani Sordo has brought the curtain down on the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship season by winning the final stage of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana.
The Spanish ace’s stage best by 0.1s was his fourth of the day in his Prodrive-run MINI. He said: “It’s really a nice end of the rally. We make a mistake on the first day then we had a small problem with the car. But we have been fighting for the best times, which is very good and I am happy to finish the year like this.”
Jari-Matti Latvala ended his career as a factory Ford driver by going second fastest. The Finn, who will switch to Volkswagen Motorsport from next year, was 2.1s quicker than Sebastien Loeb, who claimed his 76th WRC victory for Citroen by 7.0s.
Thierry Neuville and Evgeny Novikov shared the third fastest time, 1.4s down on Sordo, with Mikko Hirvonen fifth quickest and Loeb sixth. Hirvonen’s performance means he pips Mads Ostberg to the final podium spot. Ostberg was eighth quickest to finish in fourth overall.
An emotional Craig Breen secured the Super 2000 World Rally Championship five months since his co-driver Gareth Roberts lost his life in a crash on a rally in Sicily.
Meanwhile, Benito Guerra clinched the Production Car World Rally Championship title.
click: wrc.com/spain ss18