Sébastien Ogier leaves the 57 RallyRACC seen for sentencing
The eight-time world champion has his fourth victory in the 57th RallyRACC Catalunya Costa Daurada, which comes to an end today. The Frenchman from Toyota dominated with an iron fist three of the seven sections that were held yesterday and leads Thierry Neuville, winner of the last two editions, by 20 seconds with just over 50 timed kilometers to go. Kalle Rovanperä starts today closing the positions of honor 22 seconds from the head after losing the second place in the last stage of the day yesterday.
The man who won his only WRC crown so far in the 2019 RallyRACC, Ott Tänak, is fourth overall ahead of Dani Sordo who, although he gave flashes of his usual speed yesterday at the Spanish event, is not proving competitive so far in rally. This was where in 2021 the crew formed by Sordo/Carrera achieved the first of the five consecutive podiums that the Cantabrians had at the start of the Tarragona race. Only a major unforeseen event would give the Spaniard options to get on the podium in what will probably be his last World Cup race on Spanish soil.
The first pass through Savallà, the section in charge of opening the ban yesterday, was dominated by Hyundai's Belgian, Thierry Neuville, who was nearly a second ahead of Sébastien Ogier. The third party was not another Kalle Rovanperä. However, the new world champion continued to lose ground with respect to his teammate who in the first stages of the test began to gain a considerable distance. The one who seemed to start with bad feelings for yet another day was Dani Sordo, who was once again almost six seconds slower than the leader in what is his first rally of the year on asphalt.
Ogier on a roll
The counterattack of the French duo formed by Ogier and Veillas came in Querol-Les Pobles when the Frenchman returned to his own rights to score his first scratch of the day and endorse Rovanperä by more than four seconds, who was already losing nearly 10 seconds with respect to the leader . Neuville, second in the standings for that special, acknowledged that he "lost confidence with the car when the stage was dirty because he didn't know where the limits were."
Accident at El Montmell 1
The mythical stage of El Montmell 1 had to be canceled after Gus Greensmith suffered an accident in the middle of the stage that caused him to lose one of the wheels of his Ford Puma, which was stopped in the middle of the road. The race direction decided to cancel the stage for the WRC drivers who traveled through it respecting the speed limits of the track. Due to the accident, Greensmith and his co-driver Andersson were forced to retire with the hope of being able to rejoin the race today.
All this meant that the leader of the general classification after the morning loop was, once again, Ogier who had managed to increase the difference with Rovanperä and Neuville who had not yet given up his efforts to achieve his third consecutive victory in Salou. Almost half a minute later Tänak was riding and Sordo, more than a minute later and frustrated by his performance, closed the Top5 at lunchtime.
The first two stages of the afternoon loop were a triumphant ride for Ogier. The eight-time world champion managed to be the fastest in the second runs through Savallà and Querol-Les Pobles. In SS12 he was quicker than Tänak and Rovanperä by more than two seconds. In Querol, Ogier, Tänak and Rovanperä again dominated the leaderboard while Sordo struggled to get into the fight with the first swords.
Sordo, the fastest in SS14
The Cantabrian got his first scratch of the weekend at El Montmell 2 when he exhibited for the first time the speed that he is accustomed to on the tarmac of Tarragona. Sordo made some adjustments to the midday service that helped him find a setting that was more suited to his driving. Sordo was five seconds faster than his teammate Neuville and five seconds and a tenth faster than Ogier, who was losing ground.
"I told my friends that I wanted to win at least one stage this year, I had to try it!" Sordo acknowledged with a laugh upon arrival at the end of the stage. With that record, Sordo kept Evans at bay, who had been hot on his heels in the final stages.
The one who lost a lot of time was Rovanperä, who admitted having had problems at the start of the stage. Despite not having been a good stage for Ogier, the Frenchman benefited from Kalle's poor performance at El Montmell and extended his lead to over 20 seconds ahead of the Salou urban stage.
One more year, the special toured Passeig Jaume I in Salou at sunset, leaving prints to remember what could be the last time that the WRCs compete on Tarragona soil. Salou's promenade became the epicenter of the motor world for one afternoon with the dispute over one of the favorite sections for the thousands of spectators who gathered in Salou to see their idols up close. In a rattling, narrow and slow stage in which there was more to lose than to gain than to lose, Neuville and Tänak traced the time with Ogier, eight tenths behind the Toyotas. Rovanperä lost nearly two seconds, which was enough for Neuville to take second place from him. This Sunday the third and last stage will be held, 2 double-pass sections with a total of 56.10 timed km. It will be a short day but one that usually hides more difficulties than expected, especially when a prominent position is at stake.
The two timed ones are Pratdip (12.15 km) and Riudecanyes (15.90 km), this last pass will be the Wolf Power Stage that will give points to the 5 best in it. The first participant will leave the PortAventura World park at 6:00 a.m., will make a new step through this park from 09:14 a.m. for a 30' assistance, and at the end of the route will have a last and short step by the same 10', at 1:28 p.m., to then go to the Salou podium, where the official arrival ceremony will be held at 1:48 p.m.
Today, moreover, could be a big day for the Toyota Gazoo Racing squad that, with the permission of the Hyundais, could sing the spoils and proclaim themselves world champions once again. Unfortunately, today we could also experience the final point of the union between the WRC and Salou, given that its continuity in the framework of the World Championship is, to say the least, unlikely.