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    Cool WRC13 Rallye de Spain 24-27 Oct 13 ralk/results spoiler **

    Rnd 12 Rallye de Spain 24-27 Oct 13



    The RallyRACC-Rally de Espana has been a unique event in recent seasons of the WRC in that it has been the only true mixed surface round of the season. Nowhere else has three days of rallying been split across gravel and asphalt; in Spain the first day's competition is off-road, with the last two days running on tarmac.

    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 event is always one of the highlights of the WRC season.

    Official Website: rallyracc.com/2013/

    Listen Live: wrc.com/fanzone/wrc-live/



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    Sordo fastest at Spanish Shakedown



    Dani Sordo has gone fastest in shakedown for Rally de Espana, round 12 of the FIA World Rally Championship.

    At the wheel of a Citroen DS3 WRC, the Spaniard set a time of 1m22.7s through the 2.5-kilometre stage near Salou this afternoon.

    In dry and sunny conditions, he was 0.2s faster than Volkswagen Polo R driver Jari-Matti Latvala. Latvala’s team-mate Sebastien Ogier was third, one-tenth of a second further back.

    This year’s shakedown took place on an all-asphalt road, in contrast to the mixed asphalt and gravel of the 2012 version.

    Sordo is one of the favourites do well this week, after scoring his maiden WRC win at Rallye Deutschland in August, and taking the runner-up position on the WRC’s last asphalt counter, Rallye de France, earlier this month.

    Back at the Citroen service area Sordo told wrc.com he was feeling confident. “The four runs we did were good and I’m happy with the car. We didn’t do a pre-event test but the car still feels okay. We’re running quite a similar set-up to the one we used in France,” he said.

    However many drivers questioned the relevance of the shakedown, as its character bore little relation to the rally’s actual stages.

    Ogier said: “I think it’s the worst one we have ever had! It’s nothing, just a roundabout with a straight and some chicanes. We did the four runs we are required to do and that’s it. I’m quite happy with the car though. We tested last week and adapted our French set-up a bit. I’m feeling very confident for the rally.”

    “It didn’t give us a proper feeling for the rally,” agreed Latvala, “but we were able to check that everything on the car works okay and to look at the data. That’s the main thing we achieved.”

    Andreas Mikkelsen was fourth quickest in another Volkswagen Polo R, with Ford Fiesta RS driver Evgeny Novikov rounding off the top five times.

    After this afternoon’s prelude, the real competitive action begins on Friday evening after a ceremonial start in Barcelona. The opening 21-kilometre Querol stage begins at 2003hrs.

    Here are the shakedown times of the leading WRC crews. (+ times relative to Sordo’s):

    1. Dani Sordo: 1min 22.7sec
    2. Jari-Matti Latvala: +0.2s
    3. Sebastien Ogier: +0.3s
    4. Andreas Mikkelsen: +0.6s
    5. Evgeny Novikov: +1.5s
    6. Thierry Neuville: +1.6s
    7. Khalid Al Qassimi: +1.9s
    8. Nasser Al-Attiyah: +2.3s
    9. Mikko Hirvonen: +2.8s
    10. Hayden Paddon: +2.9s
    11. Martin Prokop: +3.2s
    12. Mads Ostberg: +3.7s
    13. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari: +5.2s

    click: wrc.com/news/19282

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    SS1: Ogier the early leader

    Newly crowned World Champion Sebastien Ogier holds a three second lead of Rally de Espana after going fastest through the opening stage, run in complete darkness in the hills north east of Salou.

    After a spectacular starting ceremony in front of the cathedral in Barcelona, the Frenchman was first to tackle the all-asphalt test, setting an unbeatable benchmark of 11m 23.6s in his Volkswagen Polo R.

    “That was okay, but it’s not easy to start in the dark,” said Ogier. “I haven’t got the confidence to push hard yet, it’ll take me a bit to adapt to the set-up, but okay, no mistakes.”

    Dani Sordo was Ogier’s closest challenger, the Citroen DS3 driver completing three seconds slower. “I think we lost two seconds near the start but after that the splits showed we were okay. The car set-up felt good, and the tyres worked really well,” he said.

    Third fastest was Ogier’s Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, who reported a frightening incident mid stage. “We had stones thrown at our windscreen,” he explained. “It’s really dangerous. Whoever did it needs to remember that there are people in these cars.”

    Thierry Neuville was fourth fastest in his Ford Fiesta RS, but arrived at the finish control shaking his head. “That was terrible,” he said. “I had no rhythm, the car was understeering and I was surprised to see the road was a little damp in places. When I saw one of the damp sections I panicked. I didn’t enjoy that. We can do better...”

    Citroen’s Mikko Hirvonen rounded off the top five times, the Finn completing the stage 6.4sec slower than Ogier.

    New Zealander Hayden Paddon got his World Rally Car debut off to a good start by going eighth-fastest in his Ford Fiesta RS. “It’s our first stage in the car so it was hard to predict the speed – which meant we were struggling with the braking points,” he said. “We had some understeer too, but okay, we’re easing our way in, so nothing too spectacular yet.”

    click: wrc.com/news/ss1



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

    SS2: Ogier shines again in the dark

    There was no stopping Volkswagen’s Sebastien Ogier as the new world champion claimed his second consecutive stage victory to extend his lead to 6.6sec over Dani Sordo with just one stage remaining of tonight’s opening leg.

    Falling temperatures meant the asphalt was becoming increasingly damp, but the Frenchman was error free and 3.6sec quicker than his Spanish rival. “I felt a bit more confident than in the first stage. It was damp in a few places but the grip stayed the same,” added the Polo R pilot.

    Sordo admitted he ‘pushed really, really hard’ but couldn’t get close to Ogier. “At the end of the stage there was some colour on the road surface. I thought maybe it was humid, but it looked like oil and I wasn’t so confident,” said the Citroen DS3 driver.

    As in the opening test, Jari-Matti Latvala was third in the second factory Polo R, the Finn 5.6sec behind his team-mate. “I felt in some places that the road looked damp and I was a bit too careful with the braking. I tried to brake like a racing driver and wasn’t so aggressive,” he added.

    Thierry Neuville was next up in his Ford Fiesta RS, 3.2sec behind Latvala, but the Belgian was far from happy. “It’s not working at all. I struggled in the dark and struggled with the settings. I couldn’t do more,” he explained.

    Evgeny Novikov’s Fiesta RS and the final Polo R of Andreas Mikkelsen completed the top six, the Norwegian struggling to find a good rhythm in the opening and closing sections of the tests.

    Mikko Hirvonen remains fifth overall in his DS3 after going seventh fastest in the stage. “For some reason it was more difficult to find a good rhythm and I struggled a bit. It was a bad drive,” said the Finn.

    He was followed by Hayden Paddon, the New Zealand driver having his hands full judging the braking and the speed in the darkness on his first outing in a WRC car.

    However, Paddon was faster than his Fiesta RS colleague Mads Ostberg, who cut a dejected figure at the finish.

    “I can’t find any rhythm. The car is OK and it’s possible to go faster, but I don’t trust my pace notes. I can feel my notes are changing. At the beginning they are quite easy, but they get harder and harder through the stage,” said the Norwegian.

    click: wrc.com/news/ss2



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

    SS3: Ogier reigns in Spain

    Sebastien Ogier completed a hat-trick of stage wins on SS3, to end the opening leg of Rally de Espana with a lead of 8.8sec over his Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala.

    Ogier delivered on his promise of a flat-out approach through Friday’s three stages, and will be first on the road when the action resumes on Saturday.

    “That stage was very twisty but, yeah, I’m happy,” said Ogier. “The car gave me a good feeling and helped me to keep the maximum speed through the corners. We had a good drive.”

    Dani Sordo was on course to end the day second, and almost matched Ogier’s pace at the 11.7km split, but chose instead to slow his Citroen DS3 near the stage end, lose six seconds, and drop to third.

    The strategic decision means he will follow both Volkswagens through Saturday’s six stages and will be able to react to any of their tactics before Sunday’s gravel stages. With the deliberate time loss however, Sordo now trails Ogier by 12.6sec.

    “It’s a complicated rally, but I want to be behind Jari-Matti tomorrow so we lost a little bit of time at the yellow board,” said Sordo, who warned before the rally that drivers would take steps to avoid running first through Sunday’s loose gravel stages.

    Latvala declared himself happy with his night’s work, but completing SS3 before Sordo, he knew nothing of his promotion to second when he reached the finish control. “I’m pleased to have driven consistently with no mistakes,” he said. “This last stage was very nice so I pushed a bit harder. Ogier was slightly faster but other than that I’m happy.”

    Thierry Neuville ended the day fourth, 19.1sec adrift of the lead after three less than comfortable stages at the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS. “We changed the settings a bit but still it’s not working the best,” he said. “Sometimes I’m struggling with understeer and I don’t know why. It’s strange. It was our first time in the dark here, and we found that difficult too. Tomorrow the conditions are very different.”

    Eight seconds behind Neuville, Citroen’s Mikko Hirvonen rounds off the top five. “So far it’s been a really good. Everything is working fine, I’m enjoying it,” he said.

    Andreas Mikkelsen and Evgeny Novikov are a close sixth and seventh, both less than one second behind Hirvonen, while a frustrated Mads Ostberg, lies almost 40sec further back in eighth.

    “That stage was okay but I struggled to find the right gear,” the Norwegian explained. “We’ve got the long-ratio gearbox for this rally, because the shorter ratio one isn’t available. Considering this I think we did an okay job but there were times we weren’t in the best gear.”

    World Rally Car debutant Hayden Paddon is ninth in his Ford Fiesta RS. “I’m definitely enjoying it but we’re still having a lot of understeer in the corners and that means we can’t carry the speed through,” he said. “We tried a few set-up changes between stages and I think they’ve improved things, now we will try and make some more improvements before tomorrow.”

    Martin Prokop rounds off the top ten, the Czech Republic driver lucky to escape a wrong turn at the famous roundabout 4.5km from the start.

    click: wrc.com/news/ss3




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    Saturday
    SS4: Sordo and Latvala joint fastest




    Dani Sordo and Jari-Matti Latvala set the same fastest time through Friday’s opening stage, ending Sebastien Ogier’s run of wins and setting the scene for a fascinating strategic battle during today’s all-asphalt competition.

    Overnight leader Ogier was first to tackle the stage in his Volkswagen Polo R, but judging by his general demeanour at the finish control, it’s not a position he wants to be in by tonight, when the road order positions are decided for Sunday’s gravel stages.

    “Sleeping all day, that’s my plan…” he joked. “I tried but I didn’t manage to go faster. It’s just my driving. It’s okay, but I’m not completely happy. I don’t know, the car was okay, maybe it’s the set-up..?” he said with a smile.

    Latvala however felt it was too early to think about his Sunday options. “I’m going to drive stage-by-stage and at the end of the day, well, let’s see what we can do. There’s no other team strategy,” said the Finn.

    Having dropped time deliberately on Friday night so he could monitor the progress of Volkswagens ahead today, Sordo was the fastest driver at the mid-point of SS3.

    “The split said I was three seconds faster than Jari-Matti and, if that’s true, then it’s very strange that we ended with the same time,” the Spaniard explained. “My plan is to try and push hard, but I think it will be difficult to catch Jari-Matti because he is driving very well. The only thing we can do is go flat-out.”

    Mikko Hirvonen was fourth fastest, 5.1sec slower than his Citroen team-mate Sordo, and feeling confident that he could unlock more speed from his DS3. “It’s okay but it was a lot more difficult to drive the car than it was yesterday. We made the set-up a little softer last night and maybe we went too far,” he said.

    After struggling to find the right set-up for Friday’s stages, Ford Fiesta RS pilot Thierry Neuville was still confused when he arrived at the finish control after stage three. “I don’t know why, but I’m sliding everywhere, there’s no traction,” he explained. “I made a made a big push here but it’s not going right. I feel comfortable, but it’s not working.”

    Neuville completed in the sixth fastest time and now lies fourth overall, 24.6sec off the lead.

    Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen is out of today’s competition after breaking the suspension of his Volkswagen Polo R. “We were nearing the end on a slow left-hand corner when the rear of the car slid wide,” he explained. “The wheel dropped into a ditch and hit a stone. Something is broken back there now.”

    Mikkelsen and co-driver Mikko Markkula parked their car at the stage end, unable to fix the broken component.

    click: wrc.com/news/ss4



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

    SS5: Sordo win delights home fans

    Dani Sordo claimed his second win this morning in a Citroen DS3 to climb to second behind Sebastien Ogier on the Rally de Espana leaderboard.

    Huge crowds gathered at the El Molar hairpin to roar on the Spaniard and he responded by beating Ogier by 2.9sec. He moved ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala by five-tenths of a second and reduced the margin from Ogier to 6.5sec.

    Constant braking and hard cornering on the smooth asphalt placed huge demands on brakes and tyres. Data from the finish line showed brake temperatures on some cars exceeded 600°C, while figures for the tyres were over 100°C.

    Such extremes required competitors to manage their driving style, as Sordo explained. “I couldn’t push more because there’s too much grip and the car moved. I tried to push, push because I knew Ogier was close, but at the same time I wanted to save the tyres,” he said.

    Ogier echoed his rival’s thoughts and apparently dismissed any prospect of playing tactics later today to engineer a better running position for tomorrow’s gravel tests.

    “It was a long stage and you can’t push all the way with the tyres. I don’t want to calculate and slow down tonight, I just have fun in the car and we will see. I say again, I’m not scared to open the road tomorrow,” said the Volkswagen Polo R pilot. Bluff or not?

    Latvala was third in another Polo R, despite feeling uncomfortable on a newly-laid asphalt section midway through. “It lasts for 6-8km and I didn’t drive well. It was slippery and I didn’t find a rhythm with my braking,” said the Finn.

    Mikko Hirvonen and Thierry Neuville were split by a second in the stage, although Neuville’s Ford Fiesta RS holds the upper hand over Hirvonen’s DS3 on the leaderboard by 3.6sec. However, the Belgian is still perplexed at his lack of pace.

    “I’m pushing to the maximum but there’s nothing I can do for the moment. I don’t know why I’m losing time. I feel like I’m driving well so we must look at the settings. There’s something strange but I have no idea,” he explained.

    Evgeny Novikov rounded off the top six, more than 17sec ahead of Qatar M-Sport team-mate Mads Ostberg, who is gradually coming to terms with his Fiesta RS.

    “It felt a bit better. It’s not even close to enough, but it’s going in a better direction and I feel more comfortable. We’ll try to work a bit more on the car and see if that can help us,” said the Norwegian.

    Just behind was World Rally Car debutant Hayden Paddon, the Kiwi still struggling with the rhythm in his Fiesta RS. “When I push the car understeers and if I back off to compensate, I don’t carry the corner speed. It’s a fine line but I haven’t found the answer yet,” he said.

    Jose Suarez and Pontus Tidemand, second and third in the JWRC standings, rolled their Fiesta R2s at the same point early in the stage. Neither continued but no injuries were reported.

    click: wrc.com/news/ss5



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

    SS6: Sordo and Latvala tie the lead



    Dani Sordo and Jari-Matti Latvala share the lead of Rally de Espana at the midpoint of Saturday’s competition, the dueling pair tied on exactly the same time of 1hr 24:16.6s after the event’s opening six asphalt stages.

    The pair were joint quickest through Saturday’s first stage, and were edging closer to overnight leader Sebastien Ogier until stage six, when a puncture for Ogier moved them both ahead, 31.4sec clear of third placed Thierry Neuville.

    First to complete SS6, his Polo R’s left-hand front wheel missing a chunk of rim, Ogier joked with the waiting media about the time loss. “It’s just part of the strategy, I don’t want to open the road on Sunday,” he laughed. “The reality is just a puncture. It happened when we hit something in a cut on one of the corners. It must have been in the grass, we didn’t have it in our notes.”

    Now sixth, and 46.8sec off the lead, Ogier’s puncture was a set-back but not a disaster in a day where being first comes with the disadvantage of running first on Sunday’s gravel stages.

    “It’s interesting and adds another aspect to the rally,” pondered Latvala. “Now Ogier is behind us, but we don’t know how much the gravel will affect things tomorrow, so we don’t know what can happen. Can he still win? You never know… All I can do is keep pushing and see what happens.”

    Sordo declared himself happy with his car and driving, and accepted that he was watching the pace of the Volkswagens very carefully. “I saw from the splits that Ogier had a problem. I’m sorry for him but it’s easy to get a puncture here. Now we’re in the same position where someone needs to be first, but nobody wants to be there...”

    Asked about his afternoon strategy, Sordo said: “I don’t know. I don’t have one yet, we have to wait until almost the end of the day and see where Jari-Matti is.”

    Thierry Neuville is now third, 31.4sec off the lead after a more encouraging stage in his Ford Fiesta RS. “This stage has exactly the same conditions that we had on our [pre-event] test so the car works fine. All the other stages so far we can forget about, we haven’t yet found a solution for those roads. I can’t push any more than I already am.”

    Mikko Hirvonen is 9.1sec further back in fourth after a generally steady run in his Citroen DS3 WRC and a near-miss on SS3. “There were some rough sections in the corners and for sure we damaged our tyres, but luckily they held up,” he said.

    Russia’s Evgeny Novikov is 5.9sec behind in fifth, after a trouble-free run in his Ford Fiesta RS. Ogier in sixth, more than a minute ahead of Mads Ostberg in seventh, the Norwegian reporting some progress in his search for a better handling set-up for his Fiesta RS.

    Fiesta driver Martin Prokop is eighth, just ahead of Hayden Padden in a similar car, who had a lucky escape after glancing a rock face on SS6 and breaking a right-hand front wheel.

    click: wrc.com/news/ss6




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    SS7: Latvala edges ahead of Sordo



    More than 42km of furious driving on the smoothest asphalt in the WRC calendar - and just one-tenth of a second separated Dani Sordo and Jari-Matti Latvala at the finish line in the village of La Palma d’Ebre in the sun-drenched Catalan hills.

    One of the longest asphalt tests of the season did, however, provide a single leader. After starting the test tied for first overall, Latvala was the quicker of the two in his Volkswagen Polo R to take the narrowest of advantages over Sordo’s Citroen DS3.

    “I was pushing very hard,” admitted the Finn. “I had a good rhythm but lost out again in the same area as this morning, in the new asphalt section. But it was better than the first pass. The temperature is higher and there’s more understeer, so it’s harder for the tyres,” said Latvala, whose time was almost 10sec slower than the first run.

    Latvala and Sordo were rarely covered by more than a few tenths of a second in the test, but the Spaniard insisted he did not receive the Finn’s split times into his car.

    “I didn’t have any splits from Jari-Matti,” he told WRC Live. “I followed the splits from Sebastien Ogier. I promise on my mother!” said Sordo.

    Ahead of the duo in the stage, but only by six-tenths of a second, was the Polo R of Ogier. The Frenchman was relatively tight-lipped, giving rise to all kinds of speculation about possible team orders within the Volkswagen squad.

    “There are some cuts in the corners but we had information from the gravel crew,” said Ogier, who displaced Mikko Hirvonen and Evgeny Novikov to climb to fourth.

    Fourth fastest Thierry Neuville was happier, the Belgian content with the handling of his Ford Fiesta RS for the first time this weekend.

    “It’s not understeering any more. I like the balance and the feeling is very different. The car is oversteering more than understeering and it seems to be quick. I had to find my marks again with a car I like, and I had to be careful with the brakes and tyres. I can’t push too much, otherwise I won’t finish,” he said.

    Hirvonen was fifth, 7.9sec slower than Ogier, and is 1.6sec behind in his DS3. “We were close to the pace of Ogier at the start but at the end the tyres started to move so much I thought something was broken,” he explained.

    Evgeny Novikov was sixth, ahead of Mads Ostberg and Hayden Paddon, both of whom were happier after making improvements to their Fiesta RS cars at service.

    click: wrc.com/news/ss7



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

    SS8: Shrewd Sordo puts Latvala first



    As the stage that determined the running order for Sunday’s competition, the repeat of Colldejou was always going to be the place where road order tactics came into play, so it was no surprise when Dani Sordo slowed to hand Latvala the lead.

    Ironically, Sordo warned before the rally that forcing the leader after SS8 to drive first through Sunday’s gravel stages would lead to deliberate slowing, and in the event he made the most from the strategy.

    Sebastien Ogier was first to complete the test which, as the Power Stage, offered three bonus points to the fastest driver. Having lost almost a minute with his earlier puncture, Ogier had no option than to push his Volkswagen Polo R flat-out.

    Next through was Latvala, who also pushed at the maximum, but was two-tenths slower than Ogier. With a chance of beating Thierry Neuville to second in the drivers’ championship, Latvala’s frustration was clear. “I lost to Ogier and I should have been quicker. I need the Power Stage points,” he said.

    And with Sordo following him through, Latvala was in no doubt that he would be first through Sunday’s stages, acting as Sordo’s road sweeper. Asked if he could still win from first on the road, Latvala replied: “We’ll see, but I think I’ll need some help with the weather.”

    Sure enough Sordo slowed his Citroen, to hand Latvala a slender 1.2sec lead. “I lost a little bit at the end so I will be in a better position,” he said. “All I can do is try my best tomorrow. The tactics really started yesterday and they have gone okay, I’m happy. Can I win? I hope so. I will do my best.”

    In a further blow to Latvala, Neuville was the stage winner, with the Power Stage points making his position of championship runner-up more secure. "Compared to this morning the feeling in the car is completely different,” he said. “The set-up is right, I have confidence that the car will turn in and I can drive normally.”

    Evgeny Novikov was fifth-fastest to move up to fifth overall, ahead of Mikko Hirvonen who struggled for grip. “I destroyed my tyres on the long stage,” explained Hirvonen. “I tried to take it carefully but I was sliding all the way through.”

    click: wrc.com/news/ss8



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

    SS9:Latvala leads but Sordo holds aces



    Jari-Matti Latvala ended the second leg of Rally de Espana with a slender 1.6sec lead, but clever tactics from second-placed Dani Sordo set up an absorbing final leg tomorrow as the event switches from asphalt to gravel.

    Sordo trailed Latvala by 0.1sec heading into the penultimate stage, after which tomorrow’s start order was calculated. The Spaniard measured his pace to stay behind Latvala, ensuring the Finn starts first tomorrow.

    He must sweep the loose gravel roads in his Volkswagen Polo R, leaving a cleaner and faster line for Sordo to capitalise on behind. But, intriguingly, an early start means dust could hang in the still air behind Latvala, negating Sordo’s advantage and handing the initiative back.

    In an effort to reduce the dust threat, organisers have increased the gap between the top cars from two to three minutes – but will that be enough?

    Sordo’s Citroen DS3 was fastest in the opening two stages to climb from third to second, reducing Sebastien Ogier’s lead to 6.5sec.

    When Ogier broke his Polo R’s front left wheel in the final morning test after hitting a stone not marked in his pace notes, he lost 50sec to leave Sordo and Latvala tied at the top. Latvala then edged ahead on the opening afternoon test before Sordo’s tactics came into play.

    As the drivers arrived back at Salou for an extended 75 minute service to allow teams to transfer their cars from asphalt to gravel specification, Latvala pondered tomorrow’s situation.

    “Going from asphalt to gravel after two days won’t be easy,” he said. “It’s a new challenge but I have a good feeling. I hope the weather will give me some support. A little bit of moisture to dampen the loose gravel would be nice....” he smiled.

    “I lost a bit of time at the end of the stage so I could be in a better position tomorrow,” said Sordo, who manoeuvred himself behind Latvala last night to monitor tactics from the Finn and respond accordingly. “All I can do is try my best. The tactics started yesterday and have gone OK. Can I win? I hope so, it’s a big challenge.”

    Thierry Neuville is third, 29.3sec behind Latvala after a frustrating morning when he was unhappy with the balance of his Ford Fiesta RS. Changes in service revitalised the Belgian.

    “It was all about settings,” he said. “When we found that, then I had the usual rhythm and was on the pace. Maybe we can catch Dani tomorrow, but Sebastien is close behind as well.”

    Ogier recovered to fourth, 46.5sec off the lead and cannot be ruled out. “I don’t know what’s possible. There’s 140km to go and I’m starting fourth on the road. We’ll push and see what we can do,” promised the Frenchman.

    Mikko Hirvonen lies fifth in a DS3, only 0.1sec ahead of Evgeny Novikov’s Fiesta RS. There is a 90sec gap to Mads Ostberg in seventh, the Norwegian increasing in confidence as changes to the suspension of his Fiesta RS improved its handling.

    Similar changes improved Hayden Paddon’s feeling on his World Rally Car debut. Despite a final stage spin, the New Zealander is ninth, 1.9sec behind Martin Prokop’s similar car. WRC 2 leader Robert Kubica completed the leaderboard in 10th.

    Andreas Mikkelsen retired after hitting a stone in the opening stage and breaking his Polo R’s rear suspension, while Nasser Al Attiyah crashed his Fiesta RS in the penultimate test.

    click: wrc.com/news/after ss9





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  7. #6

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    Sunday
    SS10: Leaders push but Ogier closes




    After two days of asphalt stages, the competition on Rally de Espana switched to gravel for Sunday’s final leg, and the short opening stage gave a taster of the exciting battle ahead.

    Rally leader Jari-Matti Latvala has the dubious honour of driving first through today’s stages – a position he was forced into thanks to some shrewd tactics from Dani Sordo on day two.

    But despite dry conditions, which kept the gravel at its slippery worst, Latvala was pleasantly surprised when he arrived at the finish control.

    “It was slippery in places, but not as bad as I was thinking,” said Latvala, who drives a Volkswagen Polo R. “The worst bits were the concrete sections with gravel on – they were very slippery. But in this position, all I can do is push and go as fast as I can.”

    Citroen driver Sordo was next to complete, but despite a cleaner racing line he was 1.5sec slower than Latvala. “That was okay but there are clouds of dust in the stage [from Latvala's car] so it’s difficult to see. It’s best to be first on the road maybe…” he said.

    Third placed Thierry Neuville set the fifth fastest time, the Belgian also struggling for visibility. “There’s more and more dust and I made a few mistakes,” he said. “I could have done better but I couldn’t see. It will be a problem I think. Okay, the road is cleaning a bit, but when you can’s see where you’re going it doesn’t mean anything...”

    Volkswagen’s Sebastien Ogier began the day 46.5sec off the lead, but reduced that to 42.8sec with a terrific time through Gandesa – reigniting the four-way fight for victory. “It was a massive push, not easy because there was a lot of dust in the air, but we tried. I don’t know if I can close the gap but for sure I’m going to try,” he said.

    Ogier’s time was later eclipsed by his team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, who was four seconds quicker from his position of eleventh on the road.

    click: wrc.com/news/ss10



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

    SS11: Ogier reignites victory hopes



    Slippery gravel, hanging dust and low early morning sun delivered a fiendishly difficult combination, but Sebastien Ogier delivered a stunning performance to reignite hopes of a sensational win in this penultimate round of the WRC.

    The world champion was 12sec faster than leader Jari-Matti Latvala and 18.8sec quicker than Dani Sordo as he ousted Thierry Neuville from third overall and reduced the margin to Latvala to 30.8sec with four stages to go.

    Ogier benefited from cleaner roads having started fourth, but that advantage was negated by huge clouds of dust hanging in the still morning air and blinding sunshine. But the Frenchman attacked hard in his Volkswagen Polo R.

    “It’s very hard. I had to trust my pace notes because so many times I was lost in the dust. I didn’t know where I was on the road. It’s crazy, the visibility was really bad,” said Ogier.

    Even first-on-the-road Latvala was hindered by the dust as the switchback roads twisted and turned through the Catalan hills. He was fourth fastest in his Polo R and said: “I was struggling with the sun. It was really bright in my eyes. Even I had the dust and the sun, and it was difficult to drive at the end.

    Dani Sordo, the third driver in the battle for victory, was sixth quickest in his Citroen DS3 and the Spaniard was an animated man at the finish.

    “There was a lot of dust at the end. It was flat, flat, flat but then it was difficult to brake for the slow corner near the finish. I drove really badly and I’m surprised I didn’t lose more time. It was nice at the beginning but easy to make a mistake at the end. I’m not surprised by Jari-Matti’s time from first on the road,” he said.

    Thierry Neuville lost almost a minute after puncturing the right rear tyre on his Ford Fiesta RS in the opening part of the stage. He slipped to fifth, behind Ogier and Mikko Hirvonen, but was unsure how the puncture happened.

    “I don’t know, no idea,” he said. “You can see nothing in places. In sixth gear you discover the dust and sun and sometimes you are not on the road because you can’t see,” explained the Belgian.

    Mikko Hirvonen was fifth in his DS3 and the Finn admitted visibility was so bad he almost had to stop twice.

    Andreas Mikkelsen, starting 10th on the road, enjoyed the cleanest conditions of the top drivers and sped to a second straight win in his Polo R, 9.3sec ahead of Ogier. “I have a good rhythm. It was hard to see sometimes but I have a clean road and the conditions are better for me,” he said.

    click: wrc.com/news/ss11



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

    SS12: Ogier closes on Spain lead

    As expected, the overnight switch from asphalt to gravel roads has made a huge difference to Rally de Espana, and this morning’s three stages have thrown the outcome wide open.

    With three stages to go, overnight leader Jari-Matti Latvala is still out front in his Volkswagen Polo R, and by an increased margin of 11.5seconds thanks to road conditions that weren’t as slippery as he had feared.

    On Saturday, Citroen’s Dani Sordo engineered Latvala’s start position of first on the road in a bid to give himself a cleaner racing line today. But while this strategy was successful, the Spaniard was instead hampered by clouds of dust kicked up by Latvala’s car that hung in the still air.

    However the biggest concern for both drivers today has been the astonishing pace of Sebastien Ogier behind. Ogier began the day fourth, 46 seconds off the lead, but he returns to midday service third and less than 15 seconds away after a clean sweep of stage wins.

    Ogier was the rally’s early leader but dropped to sixth on Saturday after a puncture. This morning the Frenchman turned his position of fourth on the road to his advantage, making the most of roads swept of loose gravel by the cars ahead, and having absolute confidence in his pace notes as he drove his Polo flat-out into the wall of dust.

    With three stages to go, and less of a road position advantage on the repeated stages, the question now is whether Ogier can make up one or perhaps two places before the finish.

    The man himself knows it will be tough. “It won’t be possible to make up the same sort of time, but I still think we can be faster. It will be close,” he said.

    “He is flying,” reflected Latvala. “He has a very good road position and the [road] cleaning effect is bigger that I expected. There’s nothing I can do about that. Let’s see what we can do, we have three more stages to go.”

    Sordo finds himself in an uncomfortable position. The Spaniard doesn’t have Latvala’s advantage of clear forward vision – although an afternoon breeze would quickly change that - and he is under most pressure from the hard-charging Ogier who was 18sec quicker on SS12.

    Things were looking good on the last stage of the morning loop, when he was 4.8sec quicker than Latvala at the 19.50km split, but he ended up being 1.5sec slower. “The time was good at the middle but after that I tried to push more I pushed too hard,” he admitted. “I ended up out of the clean lines – that cost a lot of time.”

    Thierry Neuville has been the highest profile casualty of Sunday morning’s stages. The Belgian was third overnight, just 29sec off the lead, but returns to service fifth, 1m 20s back after a puncture on stage 11 and a suspected transmission problem on stage 12. “I think we’ve broken a differential, we have wheelspin in fourth and fifth gear,” he explained. “Maybe it’s something connected to the puncture earlier.”

    Neuville’s problems promoted Mikko Hirvonen to fourth, 38.7sec behind Ogier, with Neuville now fifth, another 25.9sec further back. Behind them in sixth Evgeny Novikov leads a quartet of Ford Fiesta World Rally Cars drivers Mads Ostberg, Martin Prokop and Hayden Paddon.

    WRC 2 category leader Robert Kubica rounds out the top 10.

    click: wrc.com/news/ss12





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    SS13: Ogier piles pressure on Latvala

    Sebastien Ogier stepped up the pressure on Jari-Matti Latvala by winning this afternoon’s opening stage to climb to second and reduce the deficit to his team-mate to just 10.4sec.

    A breeze meant hanging dust was no longer an issue and the Frenchman was fastest in his Volkswagen Polo R by 2.5sec from Thierry Neuville. However, more importantly, he was 4.0sec quicker than Latvala and 4.2sec ahead of Dani Sordo, who was relegated to third on the leaderboard.

    “I could not have gone faster, except for maybe a little bit at the beginning,” said Ogier, for whom this was his 100th stage win of the season. “I’m not leading yet, but I want to be in the lead at the end of the last stage, I don’t care about here.”

    First-on-the-road Latvala found improved grip in his Polo R compared to the morning pass, but it still wasn’t ideal.

    “There’s more grip on the gravel but still in some places it’s slippery,” said Latvala. “There’s loose gravel on top of the clean line. Sometimes I thought something was wrong because I was sliding, and then on the next corner the grip was OK. That’s part of the job of opening the road.”

    Sordo was content but the Spaniard could not match the pace of his rivals. “At the beginning I was slower than Jari-Matti but then we took a bit of time back. It was very hard for the tyres but I had a good feeling on the gravel,” he explained.

    Neuville was much more upbeat than this morning. “We changed the settings in the differential which has given us more traction. We checked the car in service and couldn’t find anything, so I think I had a few options this morning and probably took the wrong one,” said the Belgian.

    Mads Ostberg slotted in third fastest in his Fiesta RS after a good run but Mikko Hirvonen lost time with a spin.

    “I did the same thing as when I retired in Sardinia, but this time I didn’t get stuck. At a hairpin I went off the road and had to reverse back. It was stupid to throw the time away,” said the Finn, who remains fourth, 21.6sec ahead of Neuville.

    Also spinning was Andreas Mikkelsen, who dropped more than 10sec in his Polo R.

    click: wrc.com/news/ss13



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

    SS14: Ogier leads, Sordo out, Latvala ablaze



    The penultimate stage of Rally de Espana was high on drama, with Dani Sordo crashing out, Jari-Matti Latvala completing with flames licking his car's engine bay and, to top it all, a new rally leader in Sebastien Ogier.

    Sordo was first to hit trouble, the Spaniard’s podium challenge coming to an end in the opening section. Pushing hard to try and reclaim second place, he was 0.7sec quicker than Latvala at the 4.1km split point, but put his car off two kilometres later and stopped with broken suspension.

    While this information was being digested, Jari-Matti Latvala arrived at the stage end with flames clearly visible under the bonnet of his Polo R. Fire marshals were quickly on the case with extinguishers, and Latvala roared off towards the next stage without any explanation.

    Despite the blaze Latvala managed a decent time, but it wasn’t enough to keep his Volkswagen team-mate from snatching the lead.

    Ogier was 6.5sec faster than anybody else, to pull a 1.5sec rally lead over Latvala with only the final 35km Terra Alta to go. “Another great stage,” he acknowledged. “It’s a big shame for Dani to stop on his home rally. Now we have one more stage to go and I need to do another good one…”

    Citroen’s Mikko Hirvonen is third, 55.2sec behind Latvala.

    click: wrc.com/news/ss14



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

    SS15:

    Sebastien Ogier won Rally de Espana this afternoon to take his eighth victory of the FIA WRC season and add the manufacturers' world title for Volkswagen Motorsport to the drivers' crown he won in France earlier this month.

    The Frenchman won the 12th round of the series by 32.9sec in a Polo R. His team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala completed the last stage in second place, with Mikko Hirvonen third, 1m 13.7s behind Ogier.

    Robert Kubica claimed the WRC 2 category honours in a Citroen DS3 RRC and that was sufficient to secure the world title in his first season of top-level rallying.





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    Supreme Ogier reigns in Spain



    Sebastien Ogier delivered a driving masterclass today to overturn a 45sec deficit and win an absorbing Rally de Espana in a Volkswagen Polo R.

    The Frenchman’s eighth victory of the year guaranteed Volkswagen Motorsport the manufacturers’ world title in its first season, adding to the drivers’ crown that Ogier secured in France earlier this month.

    Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala survived late dramas to finish 32.9sec behind Ogier and Mikko Hirvonen completed the podium in a Citroen DS3, another 40.8sec behind. Former leader Dani Sordo’s hopes of victory in his home rally ended in the penultimate test with broken suspension in his DS3.

    After losing almost a minute and the lead with a broken wheel rim yesterday, Ogier began today’s third and final leg in fourth place.

    Gravel tracks replaced the asphalt of the opening two days, and his lower start position guaranteed faster roads as his rivals ahead swept them clean of stones. However, dust hanging in the still morning air negated the advantage and combined with blinding low sunshine to restrict visibility.

    Ogier set an incredible pace, overhauling Sordo early this afternoon before moving ahead of overnight leader Latvala in the penultimate test. He sealed victory with another crushing performance in the final stage.

    “It was a fantastic day. We pushed really hard. We didn’t know if it would be possible because we knew dust would be a problem but we took risks this morning. We were fast and I trusted my pace notes 100 per cent,” he said.

    An emotional Ogier dedicated his win to Sean Edwards, leader of the Porsche Supercup championship, who died in a testing accident 12 days ago. Edwards was Ogier’s team-mate during his guest appearance in the Supercup race at the Monaco Grand Prix in May.

    “I realise sometimes that there are more important things in life. I lost a really good friend and I want to dedicate this victory to him and to his family,” he added.

    Latvala was lucky to finish after completing the penultimate stage with a fire in the engine bay of his Polo R. Marshals reacted quickly to extinguish the flames, caused by a leaking fuel pipe, but the Finn also had a differential problem, which he carried through the final stage.

    Mikko Hirvonen enjoyed a quiet day and looked set for fourth, despite a small spin this afternoon. However, team-mate Sordo’s demise as he battled to stay in touch with Latvala and Ogier, promoted Hirvonen onto the podium.

    “It was a shame for Dani. It would have been nice to see him on the podium at his home event,” said a generous Hirvonen.

    Thierry Neuville finished fourth in a Ford Fiesta RS. The Belgian struggled with his car’s set-up on asphalt and was similarly unhappy this morning, when he also dropped a minute with a puncture. Changes to the differentials improved his confidence and he stays second in the drivers’ standings, 14 points ahead of Latvala.

    Team-mates Evgeny Novikov and Mads Ostberg were fifth and sixth in Fiesta RS cars, the duo separated by 25.0sec. Ostberg was happier on gravel and posted a string of top three times.

    Czech driver Martin Prokop was seventh, almost two minutes ahead of Hayden Paddon. The Kiwi was relieved to finish his World Rally Car debut but spent the entire event modifying the set-up on his Fiesta RS after virtually no testing.

    WRC 2 winner Robert Kubica was ninth, with Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, normally his rival for the category title but driving a Fiesta RS World Rally Car here, completing the top 10.

    Today’s other major retirement was Andreas Mikkelsen. The Norwegian won today’s opening two stages but retired after the penultimate test with suspension damage to his Polo R.

    click: wrc.com/news/ogier-reigns-in-spain/

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

    Next Rnd 13 Wales Rally GB 14 - 17 Nov 13




    Wales Rally GB returns to its traditional slot as the season finale in November. This is following complaints about attendances when the event was allocated a mid-September date in recent years.

    But while the calendar slot is familiar, just about everything else about this year’s rally is new.

    The headquarters and central Service Park will move from the Welsh capital Cardiff, where they have been based since 2000, to a new home 180 kilometres north on Deeside in Flintshire.

    This year’s itinerary features 24 competitive stages, more than half of which are either totally new or haven’t been featured in the World Championship since the Nineties.

    Official Website: walesrallygb.com

    Listen Live: wrc.com/fanzone/wrc-live/


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