The mixed-surface Spanish event will see our three drivers try to move back into second place in the Manufacturers Championship.
October 16, 2015 -Our team is preparing for the next round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), the mixed-surface event of Rally de España, the penultimate event of the 2015 season.
We will return to a three-car entry for the 12th round of the WRC with Thierry Neuville in the #7 car, DaniSordo in the #8 and Hayden Paddon in the #20 with the objective of reclaiming second place in the Championship. For our Spanish driver, Dani, it will be a home rally with plenty of local support.
The Spanish rally has featured in the WRC since 1991 and is the only event to include both tarmac and gravel stages. Seven new stages this year make 23 stages in total. Drivers and mechanics will need to deal expertly with the surface changes.
Rally de España is a very specific event with its mix of gravel and tarmac, said Team Principal Michel Nandan. The event starts with a Super Special Stage in Barcelona, which will attract thousands of spectators. On Friday, we have a mainly gravel itinerary with some asphalt on the Terra Alta stages. The evening service is special because we have just 75minutes to change the cars to tarmac specification ahead of the final two days of running. We are in a close fight for second in the Championship, so have to be on top form over the weekend in our efforts to reclaim second place.
Thierry performed well in Spain last year, winning a stage and briefly leading the rally. He returns this year to chase Championship points.
Rally de España is special because its the only event that switches from gravel to tarmac, said Thierry. Our team has to use evening service to change suspension, gearbox and other components. Then we have to switch our driving style and ensure we have a good feeling. The stages are very nice but there are lots of new parts this year. I expect a challenge but it should be a good weekend. We will push for as many points as possible.
Dani has a strong history at Rally de España with several top-five performances in his record. He was impressive in Corsica and will be inspired this weekend by the strong Spanish turnout.
It is always a good feeling when I drive here because it is my home rally, he said. I like to drive in front of passionate spectators. I will use the local support to good effect – you always get an extra boost! I know the stages well but it is still a new challenge with some new stages this year. I like both the gravel and tarmac, but enjoy the tarmac a little more. It will be a fun event and Im looking forward to pushing for the best times. We hope to gather as many points as possible in our fight for second.
Spain was an exciting event for Hayden last year, where he claimed his first WRC stage win. He has shown great progress since then and he enters the event with positive momentum after scoring his fifth 2015 top-five result of the year at Tour de Corse.
I am excited to be going to Spain again, said Hayden. I like the challenge of the mixed surfaces and we got some good times last year. Fridays gravel is what I look forward to most, but the tarmac stages are also a pleasure to drive – especially when conditions are dry and it feels like a big racetrack! Hopefully we can put our recent lessons to good use. We want a good push on the gravel to get a good road position for the rest of the rally and try to finish near the front.
This years event is the 51st edition of Rally de España and covers 331.25km, starting in Barcelona and navigating the Tarragona hills. The winding hairpin climb of Duesaigües will be the rallys Power Stage.