Monday 27 October 2014

Rally - WRC in Spain

Following victory in Spain at the weekend, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have become only the fourth duo since 1977 to have successfully defended their WRC title. Seven victories and two second places have secured the title for the VW team ahead of Rally Wales GB.

As for Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle, their rally was all but over on SS3. After starting the day with a stage win, two punctures scuppered the Citroen team's chances. Unable to continue with only one spare tyre on board, Kris had no choice but to retire for the day.

Afterwards Kris recalled: “We went fastest on the first stage of the day. On the next stage, after three or four kilometres, I went off the line, ran wide and put a wheel off the road on a fifth-gear corner. I didn’t think that I had lost any time, but I felt that the tyre was beginning to deflate. We therefore decided to stop to change the tyre. When we set off again, we were still in the dust kicked up by the other cars. The team asked us to park at the side of the road to let Mads past. Towards the end of the stage, I realised that I’d also picked up a puncture at the front. As we only had one spare tyre, we couldn’t continue.”

The crew rejoined on Saturday for Day 2 of the rally but with a 20-minute penalty, with Kris adding: “It’s always difficult to get back into the swing of things after rejoining under Rally 2 rules. But it’s also an opportunity to learn about the stages. The result isn’t really all that important now. So I’m only concentrating on the performances. I’m trying to make the most of every kilometre and every corner!”

At the finish Kris looked back: “The double puncture at the start of the rally, with only one spare tyre on board, has proven very costly. But we had the chance to rejoin the race. We had to refocus and the times were very encouraging. It was important to show that we were on the pace with a few second places on the stages. That will also be useful for the future.”

Over in the M-Sport Ford camp Mikko Hirvonen was back on form, but team-mates Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt didn't fare quite so well. Having to accept Rally 2 regulations following a mistake on the first day of competition, the young Welshman was quick to put the disappointment behind him and used the rest of the rally to work on set-up and suspension settings.

Elfyn said: It's been a difficult rally for us. Friday was very difficult and the two days on Tarmac were okay, but maybe not what we were expecting based on the previous events. I made too many silly mistakes on Friday. If we had managed to stay on the road, then I think I would have been happy with the pace but in reality we weren't in any sort of a battle after that. Then on Tarmac we had a chance to play around with the set-up to find out what worked well and what didn't work quite so well. Of course we've learnt a lot and as a result we'll be sure to come back stronger next year."

"Now our attention turns to Wales and our home event. The preparation starts now and I'm determined to end the season with a positive result."

Malcolm Wilson added: "It's fair to say that Elfyn  was a little disappointed with the way the weekend unfolded for him. Unlike Mikko, he struggled to find a set-up that best suited his driving style and had been on the back foot because of that. It's something that comes with experience, but he felt a lot more comfortable today and was able to secure an additional manufacturers' point for the team which could make all the difference at the final round in Wales."

"With just 12 points separating second to fourth in the battle for second place in the manufacturers' title, I think that it is going to be a very exciting end to the season. If we can secure fourth place in the drivers' standings along with second in the manufacturers', it would be an absolutely fantastic achievement for the team."

1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 3:46:44.6
2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +11.3
3. Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:42.2
4. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (Citroën DS3 WRC) +2:13.3
5. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:22.2
6. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:01.0
7. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +4:02.9
8. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +8:06.8
9. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +9:12.4
10. Nasser Al-Attiyah / Giovanni Bernacchini (Ford Fiesta RRC) +12:39

14, Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta Rs Wrc) +13:15.0
16, Robert Barrable / Stuart Loudon (Ford Fiesta R5) +17:12.3
19, Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (Citroen Ds3 Wrc) +27:36.0
22, Eamon Boland / Michael Morrissey (Subaru Impreza R4) +34:15.8
27, Tom Cave / Craig Parry (Ford Fiesta R2) +42:10.4

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