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    Cool WRC RACC Rally of Spain - Oct 20-23 talk/results spoiler**

    Rnd 12: RACC Rally of Spain 20-23 Oct



    The 47th RallyRACC-Rally de Espana is unique in that it’s the only true mixed surface round on this year’s World Rally Championship with one day taking place on gravel and two days run on asphalt.

    Along with Neste Oil Rally Finland, it’s also the only other event on the 2011 calendar to host rounds of both the Super 2000 and Production Car world championships as well as the main WRC.

    The use of asphalt and gravel stages on the same event not only increases the challenge facing the crews due to the different driving style requirements, it also adds to the workload placed on the mechanics and engineers, who have to convert their cars from gravel to asphalt specification in a restricted timeframe.

    Based on Spain’s Costa Daurada in the country’s Tarragona region, the seaside tourist town of Salou will once again host the permanent service park and headquarters at a site adjacent to the PortAventura theme park.

    New for 2011
    Several changes have been made for this year’s rally, starting with an all-new test, Pesells, to kick off the action on day one. Measuring 25.74 kilometres, the fast and twisty stage boasts an excellent compact surface. Friday’s itinerary also features a night stage, Les Garrigues. Changes have also been made to Saturday with El Priorat extended by 3.93 kilometres in length, while two new stages, Riba-roja d’Ebre and Punta de les Torres will also feature. The main change for Sunday is the inclusion of the Power Stage, a 4.32-kilometre run called Coll de la Teixeta.

    Official Website: rallyracc.com/2011/

    WRC Radio: wrc.com/fanzone/world-rally-radio/


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    Shakedown success for Solberg

    Benoit Nogier's prediction that Petter Solberg could be a threat for victory on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana has so far proved to be correct after the Norwegian privateer went fastest during this morning's pre-event shakedown.

    Solberg and co-driver Chris Patterson completed the 2.94-kilometre practice course near to the service park in Salou in a time of 2m08.5s, two-tenths of a second faster than the time recorded by Federico Villagra’s Munchi’s Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

    Nogier, whose Citroen Racing Technologies outfit runs Solberg’s Citroen DS3 WRC, said: “If he has a little bit more [luck] than usual he could be a real force to be reckoned with.”

    Villagra, who only arrived in Spain on Wednesday morning due to the ash cloud currently affecting flights in his native Argentina, said: “Maybe not competing in the WRC for three months has helped me. For sure it helps for the confidence because this was my first time driving the car on Tarmac but this is just the shakedown.”

    Sebastien Ogier, one of three drivers in contention for the World Rally Championship crown, shared the joint third fastest time with Fiesta drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Henning Solberg. Title rival Mikko Hirvonen was sixth quickest with defending world champion Sebastien Loeb setting the joint seventh fastest time with Mads Ostberg.

    Local hero Dani Sordo was ninth quickest in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC, one place ahead of team-mate Kris Meeke.

    Here are the Shakedown times of the World Rally Car drivers:

    1. P. SOLBERG. Citroen DS3 WRC. 2:08.5

    2. VILLAGRA. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 2:08.7

    =3. OGIER. Citroen DS3 WRC. 2:08.9

    =3. LATVALA. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 2:08.9

    =3. H. SOLBERG. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 2:08.9

    6. HIRVONEN. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 2:09.0

    =7. LOEB. Citroen DS3 WRC. 2:09.1

    =7. OSTBERG. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 2:09.1

    9. SORDO. MINI John Cooper Works WRC. 2:09.4

    10. MEEKE. MINI John Cooper Works WRC. 2:10.7

    11. AL QASSIMI. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 2:11.1

    12. WILSON. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 2:11.3

    13. NOVIKOV. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 2:11.6

    14. ARAUJO. MINI John Cooper Works WRC. 2:12.7

    15. BLOCK. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 2:13.1

    16. RAIKKONEN. Citroen DS3 WRC. 2:13.9

    17. KUIPERS. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 2:14.0

    (19). VAN MERKSTEIJN JR. Citroen DS3 WRC. 2:15.0

    (24). OLIVEIRA. MINI John Cooper Works WRC. 2:17.1


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    Day 1
    SS1: Loeb flies




    Sebastien Loeb’s fears that he would drop time running first on the road through the loose surface gravel on the opening day of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana have proved unfounded after he went fastest on Friday’s opening all-gravel test.

    Driving a Citroen DS3 WRC, the seven-time world champion was quickest by 7.4s as hanging dust clouds played havoc for the drivers running behind, despite crews setting off in gaps of three minutes rather than the usual two.

    “It’s very slippery and loose,” said Loeb. “I don't know how much it's cleaning behind, but the grip for me is very low. I'm quite happy with the set-up. I have to push hard."

    Ford driver Mikko Hirvonen, who is equal on points with Loeb in the battle for the world title, is running immediately behind the Frenchman. After going 15.4s slower than Loeb, the Finn said: “There was lots of dust. We went off in one corner, it was a double right hander. I couldn't see anything in the dust. Luckily we didn't damage anything on the car.”

    Petter Solberg was one of the drivers who suffered more than most in the dust, taking a wheel off his privateer Citroen after reporting to his team that he simply couldn’t see where he was going.

    Click: wrc.com/RACC Spain SS1



    Overall:
    50. 11 P. SOLBERG M 20:18.7 +35.9 +5:00.0
    51. 43 K. BLOCK M 20:18.7 0.0 +5:00.0

    -------------------------

    SS2: Ogier demotes Hirvonen



    Sebastien Loeb’s bid to win an eighth world title received another boost when team-mate Sebastien Ogier demoted his main rival Mikko Hirvonen to fourth position after winning stage two in Spain.

    Although Ogier is only three points adrift of Loeb and Hirvonen in the title race, Citroen team orders require him to play a supporting role to the seven-time champion.

    “The dust was better in this one but still there were some places where we had to brake and we lost a couple of seconds because of that,” said Ogier, who climbs from fourth to third in the overall standings. “I was just pushing on the Tarmac, [not worrying about saving the tyres].”

    Loeb, who was second fastest through the stage, has increased his overall lead to 8.9s. He said: “It was very tricky on the Tarmac part, the tyres were overheating and for sure we destroyed a lot.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala completed the stage with damage to the rear of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC after the Finn reported three “moments” during the stage. Nevertheless he managed to maintain his grip on second place overall.

    Click: wrc.com/RACC Spain SS2



    Overall:
    47. 43 K. BLOCK M 49:08.1 +1:39.4 +9:58.8
    48. 11 P. SOLBERG M 49:08.1 0.0 +9:58.8

    -------------------------

    SS3: Latvala closes on Loeb



    Jari-Matti Latvala has narrowed Sebastien Loeb’s lead of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana to 5.3s after he set the second fastest time on the final stage of Friday morning’s opening loop.

    Ford driver Latvala was 1.3s slower than Citroen’s Sebastien Ogier on the mixed-surface stage to cement his grip on second place in the overall standings. The Finn has vowed to help team-mate Mikko Hirvonen’s title bid by going all out to take points away from Loeb.

    “It was not too bad on that stage,” said Latvala. “I did a couple of mistakes near the end of the stage and lost some time. I need a clean run this afternoon [to make more progress].”

    Stage winner Ogier, third in the overall classification, said: “It’s very slippery with a lot of loose gravel but when you can see the road [without dust] it’s more easy to push.”

    Click: wrc.com/RACC Spain SS3



    Overall:
    48. 11 P. SOLBERG M 1:07:22.8 +1:54.0 +14:53.9
    49. 43 K. BLOCK M 1:07:22.8 0.0 +14:53.9

    -------------------------

    Friday midday wrap

    The battle for victory on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana is tightly poised following this morning's opening three stages.

    Sebastien Loeb, bidding for a seventh consecutive win in Spain, tops the leaderboard in his Citroen DS3 WRC. But with Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala just 5.3s behind heading into the afternoon loop of three repeated tests, the battle for victory is wide open.

    In the race for the world crown, Mikko Hirvonen, who started the event equal on points with Loeb, has endured a troubled morning. Running second on the road behind Loeb, the Ford driver lost time in heavy dust clouds created by Loeb’s car. After three stages, Hirvonen is fourth overall 24.6s behind Sebastien Ogier.

    In fact, hanging dust proved a major hindrance to the bulk of the crews on the all-gravel opening test, which claimed Petter Solberg, Ken Block and Super 2000 World Rally Championship title contender Ott Tanak, who reportedly struck the same drainage culvert approximately 16 kilometres into the test.

    “The first stage was good for me but even I had some dust from the zero car staying in the air,” said stage-one winner Loeb, whose margin over Hirvonen is a sizable 35.6s.

    ..........Petter Solberg’s hopes ended a little more than halfway through the first stage when he tore a wheel off his privateer Citroen. The Norwegian said he simply couldn’t see where he was going in the dust.

    ............Ken Block was another early casualty when he damaged the steering of his Monster World Rally Team Ford Fiesta on stage one.

    Read: wrc.com/Fri Midday Wrap



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    VIDEO - Spain 2011: Ken/Alex another casualty on SS1


    http://www.wrc.com/video/browse-all/...-ss1/?vid=2357


    .....Ken Block's team manager Derek Dauncy says the fact the American's opening-stage exit has prevented him from building on his career-best eighth overall in France earlier this month is the most frustrating aspect of his retirement.

    The Monster World Rally Team star’s Ford Fiesta RS WRC suffered broken steering when it struck a partially covered drainage culvert 16 kilometres into the dust-coated opening stage of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana this morning.

    “It’s pretty lame that the boys ahead cutting the corner slightly in the dust has exposed a culvert, which has damaged the steering arm,” said Dauncy. “It’s really a shame going on from the improvements we made in France and the fact Ken is more happy on gravel and could have taken some time out of the Tarmac experts before tomorrow. He was happy with his pace notes and we were just playing ourselves in when it happened.”

    Dauncy confirmed he was almost certain that Block would restart on Saturday following repairs in service in Salou. “For sure that’s the plan,” he said. “We think just the steering arm has broken.”

    Click: wrc.com/news/spanish-frustration-for-block/

    -----------------

    Solberg: stage one dust worst ever



    Petter Solberg said the hanging dust clouds that coated the opening stage of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana this morning produced the worst conditions he'd ever experienced in the world championship.

    The 2003 title winner tore the front-left wheel off his Citroen DS3 WRC when he struck a drainage culvert on a left-hand bend approximately 16 kilometres into the stage. The Norwegian privateer said he simply couldn’t see where he was going. [watch the incident here]

    “It was unbelievable dusty, I’ve never experienced anything like it,” Solberg told Wrc.com. “You could not see and it got worse and worse for everybody behind. I couldn’t see two centimetres away. Ken Block hit the same thing, so did [Ott] Tanak. I’m very disappointed because all of my sponsors are here this weekend.”

    Solberg praised a group of spectators who positioned a rock in front of the culvert to prevent other drivers from hitting it.

    “I guarantee 30 cars would have retired if they had not put that rock there, they did a very good job,” said Solberg.

    Solberg’s Citroen suffered a broken front-left hub in the impact. He has yet to decide whether or not he will restart on Saturday.

    “Maybe I put all the budget for Rally GB,” said Solberg. “I don’t know yet for tomorrow. I will make a decision with Benoit [Nogier, the boss of Citroen Racing Technologies] later.”

    Click: wrc.com/news/solberg-stage-one-dust-worst-ever/

    . all that dust makes me wanna cough* damn shame for Petter & Ken/Alex!!!
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    SS4: Latvala snatches lead



    Jari-Matti Latvala has snatched the lead of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana with a stunning drive through the second run of the all-gravel Pesells stage.

    Latvala, in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, turned a deficit of 5.3s to Sebastien Loeb into a lead of 8.0s after going 13.3s quicker than the Citroen DS3 WRC driver.

    “I had a good feeling and pushed hard,” said Latvala. “I made a couple of mistakes braking too early and then too late. It’s going good and the car is going well.”

    Sebastien Ogier also took time out of the Citroen team leader, closing to within 2.5s of his fellow Frenchman. “It was a good stage, I’m happy for sure, much more pleasure than this morning,” said Ogier. “The grip started to be better but it’s still slippery.”

    Loeb reported a lack of grip running first on the road through the repeated gravel stage. He said: “It’s cleaning a lot. The morning I was lucky in this stage because there was some dust. I have some lines but now there is no chance. The grip is not good, not constant. It is very difficult to drive.”

    Click: wrc.com/RACC Spain SS4



    --------------------------

    SS5: Trouble for Ogier



    Sebastien Ogier’s bid to climb the leaderboard on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana has suffered a huge setback after he lost almost two minutes with a rear puncture.

    The Citroen driver hit trouble approximately nine kilometres into the run and stopped to change the damaged wheel. His misfortune has handed Mikko Hirvonen a huge boost in his efforts to clinch his first world title after the Ford driver moved into third overall.

    Out front Jari-Matti Latvala has extended his lead at the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC to 16.0s over Sebastien Loeb after recording his second stage victory in a row. The factory Ford squad is banking on Latvala taking points from Loeb in the championship battle.

    “It was a good stage,” said the Finn. “On the Tarmac section I took it very steady to save the tyres as much as possible then I attack again at the end. Of course tyres are worn but they are not too bad. I just hope there is no dust in the night stage now.”

    Loeb reported having to back off slightly towards the end of the stage after fearing he’d badly worn his gravel tyres on the asphalt sections of the run. “I felt I destroyed completely the front tyres,” said the Citroen driver. “I was pushing hard then I had to back off because of the tyres.”

    Click: wrc.com/RACC Spain SS5



    --------------------------

    SS6: Latvala loses first place

    Sebastien Loeb has retaken the lead of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana by winning the day-closing Les Garrigues night stage as Jari-Matti Latvala’s hopes of victory were dealt a huge blow when he suffered a puncture.

    Citroen DS3 WRC driver Loeb started the test 16 seconds behind Latvala’s Ford Fiesta RS WRC but moved in front when Latvala spun and then suffered a front-right puncture.

    “I’m quite happy to be at the finish, especially in this one in the night,” said Loeb.

    Latvala, who is now 30.6s adrift of Loeb, said: “It’s incredible difficult to drive in the darkness with the dust. We spun first and after that there was massive rocks on the road I couldn’t avoid. I hit the rocks and I’ve lost a lot of time. [My pace on Tarmac] is not going to be enough [tomorrow].”

    Ford driver Mikko Hirvonen questioned the wisdom of running a mainly gravel stage in the dark. He said: “You couldn’t see anything in some places, even a gap of four minutes was not enough.”

    Click: wrc.com/RACC Spain SS6



    --------------------------
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    Friday wrap:



    Sebastien Loeb has completed day one of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana leading the world championship qualifier by more than half a minute in his Citroen DS3 WRC.

    The seven-time world champion had trailed Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala by 16 seconds at the start of the final stage but moved in front when Latvala lost time with a spin and a front-right puncture in his Fiesta RS WRC.

    Latvala grabbed top spot on Friday afternoon’s opening test by capitalising on a cleaner and consistent gravel surface. By winning stage five the Finn was seemingly in control starting the day’s final run. But his delay through the dust-coated Les Garrigues night stage handed the initiative back to Loeb who hasn’t been beaten in Spain since 2005 and begins Saturday’s six all-asphalt stages with a clear lead.

    “It’s been a very hard day,” said Loeb. “Luckily I had a bit of dust on the first stage but in the afternoon the road has been really difficult and I should have lost much more time.”

    Loeb, running first on the road, grabbed the early initiative in his DS3 WRC when hanging dust created by the dry gravel roads slowed the bulk of his rivals due to a lack of visibility. But the cleaning effect when the stages were repeated in the afternoon was more apparent than in the morning and Loeb struggled.

    Dust was also a factor on the night stage, where a virtual absence of wind meant the hanging dust from the gravel sections failed to disperse, which caused significant visibility problems for the drivers chasing Loeb, including Finn Latvala.

    “It’s incredible difficult to drive in the darkness with the dust,” said Latvala. “We spun first and after that there was massive rocks on the road I couldn’t avoid. I hit the rocks and I’ve lost a lot of time. [My pace on Tarmac] is not going to be enough [tomorrow].”

    Read More: wrc.com/Friday WRC Wrap

    ------------------

    Friday PWRC wrap



    Patrik Flodin will take a lead of 35.9s into day two of the Production Car World Rally Championship battle in Spain despite reporting a power glitch at the completion of the Friday's final stage.

    Patrik Flodin will take a lead of 35.9s into day two of the Production Car World Rally Championship battle in Spain despite reporting a power glitch at the completion of the Friday’s final stage.

    The Swede said the problem developed following a hefty bump on the penultimate test but is confident that repairs at overnight service in Salou will restore his Subaru Impreza’s engine to full power.

    “We were on three cylinders, even two cylinders at one point,” said Flodin. “We are very happy to be in the lead but Kosciuszko is still very close so we have to stay focused to keep him behind.”

    Michal Kosciuszko is second in his Mitsubishi Lancer. The Pole said: “We hit a tree on stage two and smashed the rear right window so a lot of dust came into the car which made it more difficult. We can feel that the pace is there so we will try to push a bit more to catch Flodin.”

    Read: wrc.com/Fri PWRC Wrap

    -----------------------

    Friday SWRC Wrap



    Juho Hanninen is on course to win the Super 2000 World Rally Championship after his main rival Ott Tanak hit trouble and retired on stage one. But despite the Estonian's early exit, Finn Hanninen said it had been an extremely tough opening day.

    “It’s been very hard finding the right pace and the right consistency after Tanak stopped,” said the Red Bull Skoda driver. “You can’t take risks because you can make a mistake but you can’t not push completely because you lose the rhythm. We are trying to stay focused.”

    Despite his more conservative approach, Hanninen remains in the battle for top spot, one second behind Nasser Al-Attiyah in a Ford Fiesta S2000.

    “I’m happy to be in the lead but the rally is still very long and the gap at the front is very close so everything is possible,” said the Qatari. “Tomorrow we go back to Tarmac and the aim is to improve on that surface as it’s not our favorite.”

    Irishman Craig Breen, who has taken over Eyvind Brynildsen’s registration for this event, is a strong third overnight in his Fiesta, 24.6s behind Al-Attiyah.

    Read: wrc.com/Fri SWRC Wrap


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    Saturday

    SS7: Loeb rapid




    Sebastien Loeb cemented his position as the leader of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana by going fastest through the grueling all-asphalt 45.97-kilometre El Priorat stage, the longest of Spain’s world championship qualifier.

    Loeb’s performance in his Citroen DS3 WRC means he now heads Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala on the mixed-surface round by 34.9s.

    “It’s a long stage but the car was very well balanced, which is very important on a long stage like this,” said the defending world champion following his run through Saturday’s first test. “It was a very good drive, constant start to the end, with no mistake.”

    Latvala impressed by recording a time just 4.3s slower than Loeb, an established asphalt expert. He was thrilled at the stage finish: “It’s the best performance on this stage ever, I have never been so quick but on the other hand it’s not enough. We are taking two spares [compared to Loeb’s one] so we have a bit of extra weight. It means there are some places towards the end where the rear of the car is sliding a bit but it is going very well on Tarmac.”

    Click: wrc.com/RACC Spain SS7



    --------------------------

    SS8: Latvala continues to pressure Loeb

    Jari-Matti Latvala continues to pile the pressure on Sebastien Loeb in the battle for victory on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana but once again was fractionally slower than the event leader through Saturday’s second test.

    Latvala, in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, took 1.1s longer than Loeb to complete the Riba-roja d’Ebre run, a new stage for 2011. As a result his gap to the Citroen driver is now 36.0s.

    MINI’s Spanish ace Dani Sordo continues to edge closer to third-placed Mikko Hirvonen after setting the third fastest time in his John Cooper Works WRC, 1.4s slower than Loeb. Sordo is now 49.4s behind Hirvonen.

    Click: wrc.com/RACC Spain SS8



    -------------------------

    SS9: Latvala fastest



    Jari-Matti Latvala has trimmed Sebastien Loeb’s lead of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana by 3.2s after winning the Punta de les Torres stage, another new addition to the event itinerary.

    Latvala is now 32.8s behind Loeb at the completion of Saturday morning’s loop of three stages.

    “It’s a new stage, the grip was good and I had a good feeling,” said the Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver. “It has to be all the time this way if I want to pressurise him.”

    Loeb, in a Citroen Total World Rally Team DS3 WRC, reported slightly damp sections in the stage. He admitted he was slightly cautious as a result.

    Click: wrc.com/RACC Spain SS9



    Overall:
    36. 43 K. BLOCK M 2:56:33.8 +36.8 +31:35.8

    -------------------------

    Sat Midday wrap

    Overnight pacesetter Sebastien Loeb continues to top the RallyRACC-Rally de Espana leaderboard in his Citroen DS3 WRC at the midday halt in Salou. However, with Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala edging closer the Frenchman can't back off just yet.

    After winning Saturday morning’s opening brace of all-asphalt stages, Loeb - unbeaten in Spain since 2005 - was able to stretch his advantage out front to 36.0s. However, Latvala narrowed that margin with the fastest time through stage nine, when Loeb reported a more cautious approach due to a slightly damp road surface.

    With the morning tests repeated this afternoon, Latvala will continue to try to eat into Loeb’s lead as he attempts to take points from the Frenchman, currently equal on points with Latvala’s team-mate Mikko Hirvonen in the battle for the world title.

    “It was not foggy, but there was some humidity in the first part,” said Loeb at the completion of stage nine. “There are a lot of stones by the side of the road and you have to be very precise.”

    Latvala, who has impressed throughout the morning, said: “The grip was good and I had a good feeling on the last stage. But it has to be all the time this way if I want to pressurise him.”

    Hirvonen is third overall but lacking the potency to close up to the top two. “I really try as hard as I can but this is as fast as I can go now,” said the despondent Finn.

    Read: wrc.com/Sat Midday wrap

    .
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    Kimi’s exit caused by fuel leak



    Citroen Racing Technologies' boss Benoit Nogier has confirmed that a fuel leak caused Kimi Raikkonen's retirement from RallyRACC-Rally de Espana on Friday morning.

    Raikkonen, Formula One world champion in 2007, was fighting back from the time lost on the dust-coated opening stage when he stopped on stage three.

    “We had a problem with a fuel leak and he had to stop in the stage,” said Nogier. “It was a very, very small leak but we lost a lot of fuel. It was something almost invisible and it was really difficult to find what the problem was.”

    Nogier, who said a full analysis of the fuel leak problem would take place in order to establish the precise cause, confirmed Raikkonen’s Citroen DS3 WRC had briefly caught fire although there was little damage as a result of this.

    Raikkonen elected not to restart under SupeRally rules this morning, even though his car had been repaired.

    “Kimi took the decision to keep the car for the next rally, the last event of the season, which will be very important,” said Nogier. “We prefer not to take any risks to keep the full potential for the next rally.”

    Click: wrc.com/news/kimis-exit

    --------------------------

    SS10: Loeb impressed by Latvala pace



    World champion Sebastien Loeb admitted he was surprised by Jari-Matti Latvala’s pace on the second run through the 45.97-kilometre El Priorat stage, the longest all-asphalt run in this year’s WRC.

    Latvala, in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, was 3.2s quicker than Loeb through the test to trim the Citroen driver’s overall lead to 29.6s with two stages of day two remaining.

    “He’s driving fast, it’s surprising,” said Loeb. “I had a good drive, no mistake. For sure I am not here to try everything. I lose some time where drivers from the first loop were cutting the corner. I don’t cut but go in the gravel.”

    Latvala said: “I pushed a lot, it was like driving on the race circuit and it felt really good. The car is very good and when we find the set-up I find the confidence.”

    While Latvala celebrated his fourth stage win in Spain, Ford team-mate Mikko Hirvonen was far from happy with his performance. “Everything feels okay but the times aren’t getting there,” he said. “I am confused.”

    Click: wrc.com/RACC Spain SS10



    --------------------------

    SS11: Sordo fastest for MINI



    Dani Sordo has recorded his first fastest stage time on this year’s RallyRACC-Rally de Espana.

    The Spaniard’s performance on his home round of the WRC has halted Jari-Matti Latvala’s run of wins by going quickest on the penultimate stage of day two, the 12.27-kilometre Riba-roja d’Ebre test.

    Driving a MINI John Cooper Works WRC, Sordo was 2.3s faster than event leader Sebastien Loeb to close to within 32.5s of third-placed Mikko Hirvonen.

    Loeb, in a Citroen DS3 WRC, now heads Ford Fiesta RS WRC driver Latvala by 29.8s in the battle for first place. Hirvonen, level on points with Loeb in the drivers’ standings is now 1m23.1s behind Loeb.

    Click: wrc.com/RACC Spain SS11



    --------------------------

    SS12: Hirvonen hits back



    Mikko Hirvonen has staved off Dani Sordo’s advances in the battle for third place by beating the Spaniard through Saturday’s final stage.

    Hirvonen, in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, increased the margin to the fourth-placed MINI John Cooper Works WRC driver to 37.4s heading into Sunday’s final six stages after he went second fastest.

    The Finn’s performance ended a frustrating day during which he struggled to make an impact. “Dani is getting close so I have to push hard,” said Hirvonen. “But at least it’s been a good end of the day.”

    In the battle for outright victory on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana, Jari-Matti Latvala has edged closer to leader Sebastien Loeb after clocking the fastest time through the stage. The Ford driver is now 27.6s behind his Citroen rival heading to the overnight service halt in Salou.

    Kris Meeke impressed with a time that was 1.0s slower than his more experienced team-mate Sordo. “I took the pressure off myself today and accepted I have to get the experience,” said Meeke. “When I’m not trying the times come.”

    Click: wrc.com/RACC Spain SS12



    Overall:
    31. 43 K. BLOCK M 3:39:22.9 +46.8 +33:21.6



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    Saturday WRC wrap

    Sebastien Loeb continues to lead RallyRACC-Rally de Espana following another strong display in his Citroen DS3 WRC.

    But while Loeb maintained his advantage out front, Jari-Matti Latvala shone with a trio of stage wins in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

    Finn Latvala reached service in Salou this evening 27.6s behind Loeb after impressing throughout the day’s all-asphalt stages alongside co-driver Miikka Anttila, who became a father during the night.

    “It’s been the best day of my career ever on Tarmac to be fighting in Catalunya with Loeb,” said Latvala. “I’ve not been able to catch him so much but I am still pleased for my day. I will pressurise him tomorrow.”

    Loeb, whose lead at the end of Friday stood at 30.6s, began day two with a brace of stage wins. But while he wasn’t able to match Latvala’s pace in the afternoon, he is confident that he can extend his winning run in Spain to seven events.

    “I have a good feeling and my car is going well,” said Frenchman Loeb. “I have a good rhythm but I am having to push because Jari-Matti is surprisingly fast on Tarmac. My lead should be enough tomorrow if I make no mistake.”

    Read: wrc.com/Sat WRC wrap

    -------------------------

    Saturday PWRC wrap



    Patrik Flodin is six stages away from claiming his first victory in this year's Production Car World Rally Championship. However, with Michal Kosciuszko just 11 seconds behind, success for Flodin is by no means guaranteed.

    Flodin, in a Subaru Impreza, has maintained his lead throughout the day but was far from satisfied at the completion of Saturday’s closing stage.

    “I’m struggling with my driving,” said the Swede. “We tried to adjust a little bit our driving style to see if we could improve but it didn’t go very well. I don’t know what the problem is but I can’t find a good rhythm on the Tarmac.”

    Kosciuszko could have overtaken Flodin on Saturday’s final stage but lost time when his Mitsubishi Lancer developed a left-rear brake problem. “I had almost no brakes for the final four kilometres,” said the Polish driver. “We will have a nice fight tomorrow.”

    Benito Guerra remains on course for his maiden podium finish despite losing three minutes when he had to stop and change a puncture on stage seven.

    Read: wrc.com/Sat PWRC wrap

    ------------------------

    Saturday SWRC wrap



    Nasser Al-Attiyah's once comfortable lead in the Super 2000 World Rally Championship category has been slashed to 0.4s following a fraught afternoon for the Qatari on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana.

    Driving a Ford Fiesta S2000, Al-Attiyah had increased his margin to more than 20s at the midday service halt in Salou. But an off-road moment on stage 10 damaged his car’s gearbox to the extent his lead over Red Bull Skoda driver Juho Hanninen has been slashed to less than a second.

    “It was a very good morning because we won all the stages and progressed a lot on Tarmac,” said Al-Attiyah. “When we went off we damaged the oil cooler of the gearbox and we were actually lucky to come back onto the road. The car was not good after that and the gearbox temperature was quite high.”

    Al-Attiyah probably would have lost the lead altogether had Hanninen not been driving with the SWRC title in mind. The Finn just needs to maintain his position to clinch the crown following archrival Ott Tanak’s day one exit.

    “I just need to come to the finish so it’s better not to think about Nasser,” said Hanninen. “I need to find a good rhythm because there is still a long way to go.”

    Read: wrc.com/Sat SWRC wrap

    ------------------------

    one more thing ....

    High praise for Latvala in Spain

    Jari-Matti Latvala said he received a huge boost when Sebastien Loeb congratulated him after he went fastest for a third time on the all-asphalt second day of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana.

    Latvala, in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, has been a revelation on the World Rally Championship qualifier with a succession of stage wins alongside co-driver Miikka Anttila.

    “Sebastien came up to me after the last stage to shake my hand and congratulate me on my time,” said the 26-year-old Finn. “It was a great feeling to have the seven-time world champion congratulate me for beating him on his favourite surface.

    “My driving on this surface is improving all the time. It’s smoother and I used every centimetre of the road. I’ve never driven such a good car on asphalt as this Fiesta. It’s so stable and handled like a racing car. When it feels as good as that I have the confidence to drive as if I was on a race track. That was the best day of my career on asphalt.”

    Ford team boss Malcolm Wilson was also full of praise for Latvala: “It was a sensational day for Jari-Matti and I believe he has come of age on asphalt.”

    Click: wrc.com/high praise for latvala


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    Sunday

    SS13: Ogier sets early pace




    Sebastien Ogier has gone fastest on Sunday’s opening stage despite reporting that he slowed down towards the end of the run fearing he had a puncture.

    The Citroen DS3 WRC driver dropped out of contention for victory on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana with a brace of punctures earlier in the event. He remains in fifth overall after going 0.1s faster than team-mate Sebastien Loeb.

    “It’s a surprise because we slow down at the end when we had a feeling something was wrong with our front tyres - we had the same feeling when I had a puncture,” said Ogier. “We have to try otherwise the rally is so long. We stay in a good rhythm.”

    Loeb, who was second fastest to maintain his overall lead, said: “It’s not easy because the stage is quite fast and with the headlights [in the dark] you discover everything quite late compared to daylight. You have to be very concentrated. But the grip was good in the stage so no problem.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala, in second overall, reported a moment after moving back onto the wide road following the narrow mid-stage section in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC. “I did a mistake,” said the Finn, who is now 31.1s behind Loeb. “I didn’t realise how quickly the road was turning. I thought I would overshoot so I pulled the handbrake. I went massive sideways but I didn’t lose too much time.”

    Mikko Hirvonen, bidding to fend off Dani Sordo for third, said: “I found the rhythm and I was understanding how to drive the car. I’m getting the hang of it now.”

    ^^shouldnt he(mikko) have been doing that since day 1 !!

    Click: wrc.com/RACC Spain SS13



    --------------------------

    Araujo and Block hit trouble

    The World Rally Car contingent on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana has been reduced by two after Armindo Araujo and Ken Block both went off the road on Sunday's first stage, the 26.51-kilometre Santa Marina test.

    Although full details of their exits are not yet known, both drivers are understood to have hit trouble within the opening three kilometres of the stage, which was held under the cover of darkness, albeit in dry conditions.

    Portuguese Araujo was 15th at the time. Block, from America, was in 31st. Both drivers and their co-drivers are reported to be uninjured.

    It marks the second event in a row that Araujo, in a Motorsport Italia MINI John Cooper Works WRC, has retired on the first stage of the closing morning of a world championship qualifier after he also went out early on Rallye de France Alsace’s final day.

    Block was recovering from his exit on Friday’s dust-coated first stage, when he broke his steering striking a drainage culvert in his Monster World Rally Team Fiesta.

    Click: wrc.com/news/araujo-and-block-hit-trouble

    -------------------------

    SS14: Hirvonen quickest



    Mikko Hirvonen proved he’s not going to give up on his dream of winning his first world title without a fight after setting his first fastest stage time on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana.

    In a remarkable transformation of form following his lacklustre showing on Saturday, Hirvonen was 4.0s faster than world championship rival Sebastien Loeb through Sunday’s second test. Although his performance won’t impact on the overall classification, it’s proof that the factory Ford driver has what it takes to run at the front.

    “It was difficult yesterday but I finally realised how to drive with this set-up,” said Hirvonen. “I’m glad I found it finally.”

    Ford team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala once again underlined his emergence on asphalt with another strong stage time in his Fiesta RS WRC. He is now 29.4s behind leader Loeb with four stages left to run.

    “It was a good stage but we lost a little towards the end when it was a bit more technical,” said Latvala.

    Loeb, who like Latvala is carrying two spare soft compound tyres to counter the threat of rain, said: “There was some [damp] in the first part of the stage so I didn’t want to take any risks. It’s okay.”

    Click: wrc.com/RACC Spain SS14



    --------------------------

    SS15: Loeb flies on Power Stage rehearsal



    Sebastien Loeb marked himself out as the favourite to win the event-closing Power Stage when he set the fastest time on the first Coll de la Teixeta run, which will be used for the live television spectacular when it’s repeated later today.

    “I tried to do a good stage to see how it’s working [for the Power Stage later],” said Citroen driver Loeb. “The feeling was not bad but with a few little mistakes. We have to correct it.”

    With the Power Stage offering bonus points for the fastest three drivers, the results could be crucial in the outcome of the world championship battle between Loeb and Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen.

    “I tried soft [compound tyres] in the front for the Power Stage but didn’t work out,” said Hirvonen, who was 3.2s slower than Loeb. “At least we know now.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala wasn’t entirely happy with his performance in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC and is now 31.1s behind Loeb. Of the time lost to the Frenchman, Finn Latvala said: “It was a bit too much actually. I thought I was driving well but I started to understeer in some places.”

    Dani Sordo reported a problem with the steering of his MINI John Cooper Works WRC, while Sebastien Ogier said the rear of his Citroen DS3 WRC was stepping out under braking on a handful of occasions.

    Click: wrc.com/RACC Spain SS15




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    sorry late posting was at Rally NY !

    -------------------------

    SS16: Loeb closes on Spanish success



    Sebastien Loeb has moved a step closer to winning RallyRACC-Rally de Espana for a seventh time after his closest rival, Jari-Matti Latvala, confirmed he wouldn’t be taking any risks in a last-ditch attempt to catch the Citroen ace.

    Ford driver Latvala was second fastest through the stage and is now 28.2s behind Loeb with two stages left to run. He said: “I didn’t want to take any risks. I took no cuts and made no mistakes. It was a smooth run.”

    Loeb said: “I was just looking at the splits of Jari-Matti, there is no more to do. I just try to stay on the road and hope not to have any puncture like always. I didn’t cut anywhere.”

    Mikko Hirvonen, in the second factory Fiesta, said: “Now there’s no pressure [from fourth-placed Dani Soro] I don’t have to take risks or anything. Maybe I have to look after the tyres a bit more [for the Power Stage].”

    Click: wrc.com/RACC Spain SS16



    --------------------------

    SS17: Trouble for Ogier, Wilson

    There was more drama on the penultimate stage of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana when Sebastien Ogier and Matthew Wilson both failed to complete the run.

    Ogier, in a Citroen DS3 WRC, suffered an engine-related problem, while Wilson damaged his M-Sport Stobart Fiesta following a rare off-road moment.

    Wilson started the stage under mounting pressure from Dennis Kuipers with the FERM Power Tools World Rally Team driver just 7.7s behind. The Briton is reported to have taken the front-left wheel off his car, which has handed the final drivers’ championship point to Dutchman Kuipers as things stand.

    Out front Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb continues to lead with Ford pair Jari-Matti Latvala second and Mikko Hirvonen third respectively.

    Latvala, who was fastest through the stage, said: “I had a fantastic feeling and I really enjoyed driving this stage. The confidence is so good between myself and the car on Tarmac.”

    Click: wrc.com/RACC Spain SS17



    -------------------------

    SS18: Meeke wins Power Stage , Loeb wins event

    Kris Meeke has won the RallyRACC-Rally de Espana Power Stage to claim his first stage victory in the World Rally Championship in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC.

    In slippery conditions caused by a sudden downpour prior to the run, Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle headed MINI team-mate Dani Sordo by 0.2s with rally winner Sebastien Loeb third fastest in his Citroen DS3 WRC.

    Meeke, who had never tackled a Power Stage before, took full advantage of an inspired tyre choice when he opted to leave mid-morning service in Salou with a combination of two soft compound tyres and two hard compound tyres in the knowledge that rain was being forecast for the afternoon. Crucially he also had two spare soft tyres onboard - ideal for damp conditions - which he, like Sordo, was able to bolt on prior to the rain-hit stage.

    “It’s unbelievable,” said the Northern Irishman. “I have to say a big thank you to the team. It was their call with the tyres, I thought it was wrong because we had two long stages before but it was right. Beating Dani is also something special.”

    Event winner Loeb said: “We got one point for the Power Stage and that is very important. With the MINIs on soft tyres we had no chance but we have done the best we could.”

    Click: wrc.com/RACC Spain SS18




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    Sunday WRC wrap:



    Sebastien Loeb has won RallyRACC-Rally de Espana for a seventh time in his Citroen DS3 WRC following three days of dramatic action on the Costa Daurada south of Barcelona

    By clinching one bonus point for clocking the third fastest time on the event-closing Power Stage, Loeb will head to Great Britain for the final round of the World Rally Championship next month with a narrow lead over Ford driver Mikko Hirvonen in his bid for an unprecedented eighth WRC drivers’ crown.

    Loeb’s success in Spain, alongside co-driver Daniel Elena, earned sufficient points for Citroen to clinch the FIA manufacturers’ title for a seventh time, despite his team-mate Sebastien Ogier retiring from fifth on the penultimate stage with an engine fault.

    “It was a really good rally for us coming from three bad rallies,” said Loeb, whose tally of five stage wins during the event means he has broken Markku Alen’s record of 801 fastest stage times. “We did the perfect race I would say with no mistakes. Mikko has taken a lot of points so we stay very close in the championship but the point for the Power Stage could be very important.”

    Jari-Matti Latvala began the final day in a strong second place following an inspired performance behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC, which he described as his best performance on asphalt. However, with team-mate Hirvonen needing as many points as possible for his championship aspirations, Latvala incurred a two-minute time penalty to drop behind Hirvonen to third overall.

    Dani Sordo gave the thousands of Spanish fans lining the route reason for cheer when he finished fourth in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC. Delays caused by a rear-left puncture on stage 14 and a steering problem on the next test had dropped Sordo into Ogier’s clutches. But when Ogier hit trouble on the penultimate run, Sordo was clear in fourth with team-mate Kris Meeke claiming his first finish of 2011 in fifth.

    Briton Meeke drove without error and rounded out a strong showing by going fastest on the event-closing Power Stage, his first overall stage win in the WRC.

    Read: wrc.com/Sunday WRC wrap

    -------------------------

    PWRC wrap:



    Patrik Flodin moved into second place in the Production Car World Rally Championship with a thrilling victory on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana, defeating Michal Kosciuszko in a close final-stage showdown.

    Flodin, from Sweden, feared his chances of winning the category were over when his Subaru Impreza suffered a front puncture one kilometre from the finish of the penultimate stage, which he completed with an advantage of 2.3s over Kosciuszko.

    Despite the Pole going faster than him on the event-closing Power Stage in his Mitsubishi Lancer, Flodin did just enough to secure victory, albeit by a slender margin of 2.0s.

    “We were really struggling yesterday with the driving on Tarmac,” said Flodin. “Last night we reset everything and tried to do our best today and the driving was working better. We tried to go a bit smoother, braking earlier and really focus on the exit of the corner. I saw in the fast sections we were faster than him and we could see that on the split times. Without the puncture it could have been quite safe. We did just enough.”

    Flodin’s co-driver Goran Bergsten revealed it had been an anxious wait at the end of the final stage while they waited for Kosciuszko and Maciej Szczepaniak to reach the finish of the rain-hit stage.

    “We didn’t know if he had the soft tyres,” said Bergsten. “It was really slippery and we were sliding a lot. We just had to do our best.”

    Behind Kosciuszko, Mexico Benito Guerra celebrated his maiden podium finish in the PWRC in third position with Abu Dhabi Junior Team driver Bader Al Jabri a hugely impressive fourth in his Impreza.

    Read: wrc.com/PWRC wrap

    -------------------------

    SWRC wrap:



    Juho Hanninen has clinched the Super 2000 World Rally Championship in style with his third victory of 2011 on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana today.

    Co-driven by Mikko Markkula, the Red Bull Skoda star knew the coveted title would be his by providing he reached the finish in Salou this afternoon following rival Ott Tanak exit on Friday’s opening test when he broke his Ford Fiesta’s suspension on a drainage culvert hidden by thick clouds of dust.

    Despite not having to claim victory to secure the crown, Hanninen nevertheless took top spot after brake problems hampered overnight leader Nasser Al-Attiyah on Sunday morning. The Qatari battled on to take second with Martin Prokop third.

    Ott Tanak’s restart under SupeRally regulations netted sixth place, which was enough to secure second overall in the final championship standings from Prokop.

    Read: wrc.com/SWRC wrap

    ...


    -------------------------

    Final Round 13 - Wales Rally GB 10-13 Nov



    Britain’s World Rally Championship counter has been a qualifying round of the series every year since the WRC was established in 1973.

    Its origins date back to 1932 and, for many years, it was known as the RAC Rally in deference to the organiser, the Royal Automobile Club, before the advent of commercial sponsorship brought about a change of name.

    While the event used to roam around England, Scotland and Wales, making it a test of endurance rather than a demonstration of all-out speed, since 2000 the action has been contained in south Wales prior to the inclusion of stages further north into mid-Wales in 2008.

    Official Website: walesrallygb.com/

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