The fight for Rally de España victory honours is set to go right down to the wire as just 16.5 seconds separates the top-six crews at the end of the penultimate day.
As action shifted from gravel to tarmac on Saturday, wet weather conditions put a dampener on proceedings, and moved focus onto tyre selection. For our crews, it was a day of mixed fortunes.
Thierry and Nicolas enjoyed a strong Saturday with two stage wins and a jump up the classification to fifth overall. Our Belgians have a 12.7-second deficit to rally leader Jari-Matti Latvala.
Saturday’s alright for fighting
“We have been able to really push throughout the entire day,” said Thierry. “It’s really close and anything is possible. I can say for sure that we will continue to fight hard.”
Six of Saturday’s seven scheduled special stages were held following the early cancellation of the opening 14.12km Savalla test. The morning loop was limited to the 21.26km Querol and 24.40km El Montmell stages. A full afternoon loop saw all three stages run with the addition of a 2.24km timed run through Salou.
Our Spaniards Dani and Carlos held the rally lead into lunchtime service but dropped down to sixth after a trickier afternoon loop. They are still only 8.5-seconds from the podium in a tightly packed field.
“It’s always nice to lead a rally, but even more so in front of our home fans,” said Dani. “Sadly, we couldn’t maintain that pace on the muddier afternoon stages, losing time to the leaders. We are still in touch.”
Closer than close
It was a less than positive day for Andreas and Anders, who ended Saturday in tenth place. “We have to analyse what we’ve done to see if there’s anything we can do before the final stages on Sunday morning,” said Andreas.
Our Team Principal Michel concluded: “The close gaps really show the competitive nature of the entire 2018 season. Four manufacturers inside the top-five with just 12.7 seconds between the crews: with the timings so tight, this rally looks set to go down to the Power Stage.”
Four tarmac stages will take place on Sunday totalling 61.70km. The 16.35km Riudecanyes and 14.50km Santa Marina stages will each be run twice with the latter’s second run acting as the Power Stage where extra points are awarded to the top five drivers.
Classification after Day Two
1 J.M Latvala / M. Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:35:01.8
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4.7
3 S. Loeb D. Elena / (Citroën C3 R5) +8.0
4 E. Evans / D. Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +9.8
5 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +12.7
6 D. Sordo / C. del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +16.5
7 E. Lappi / J. Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +46.5
8 O. Tänak / M. Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:00.7
9 C. Breen / S. Martin (Citroën C3 R5) +1:37.9
10 A. Mikkelsen / A. Jæger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2:07.3
11 T. Suninen / M. Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:14.5