M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs are in the fight for victory at this weekend’s RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España; Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia currently holding second place with Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt mere seconds adrift in fourth.
The competition could not be closer going into the final day and six crews are in the mix for victory at this particularly exciting dual-surface duel. The top-four are separated by less than ten seconds and the top-six by just 16.5 seconds.
A thrilling final day awaits with 61.70 competitive kilometres left to contest, and victory is anyone’s for the taking.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“Sébastien and Elfyn have both had a great day and it’s incredible to see how close the battle is. With less than 10 seconds separating the top-four and only 16.5 seconds separating the top-six we’re in for a fantastic final day.
“It’s such an exciting time for our sport. The competition couldn’t be closer, both in the rally and the championship, and I know both of our guys will be pushing hard to secure the best possible result.
“It’s been a more difficult weekend for Teemu, but he has never experienced these conditions with a world rally car and we know how long it takes these young guys to get to the top level. He showed some great improvement this afternoon and should be happy with that performance.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are in the fight for another victory this weekend. Currently holding second place in what is effectively an intense six-way battle for the lead, the reigning World Champions are just 4.7 seconds shy of their fifth win of the year.
As the action moved to asphalt and the heavens opened, the crews had to contend with wet Tarmac for the first time this year. Tyre choice proved difficult and each loop saw a variety of options. Judging the optimum choice proved tough, but Ogier made gains regardless.
Climbing five places from seventh to second, he and Ingrassia are in prime position at the end of the day with all to play for in both the rally and the championship.
SS9: 4th (+7.7)
SS10: 4th (+6.9)
SS11: 5th (+4.5)
SS12: 7th (+7.7)
SS13: 2nd (+0.9)
SS14: 3rd (+0.9)
Sébastien Ogier (2nd) said:
“It’s been a tough day with the conditions and I don’t think we made the right tyre choices, but we did the best with what we had. I tried to minimize the time loss as much as I could, but it was difficult. Some stages this afternoon were very dirty and really tricky. It’s all very close now, and we’re still in a position to fight for the victory tomorrow. It’s going to be a really close battle, but our main target is to stay ahead of Thierry.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt enjoyed another strong day at RallyRACC Catalunya – Rally de España; edging closer to the lead as the action turned to asphalt.
As heavy rain drenched the circuit-like stages, the battle for victory intensified and another strong performance ensured the Brits were in the fight.
Despite falling to fourth place overall, Evans and Barritt will be determined to bring home the silverware tomorrow – just 1.8 seconds shy of the podium and a mere 9.8 seconds adrift of the win!
SS9: 6th (+9.3)
SS10: 7th (+10.5)
SS11: 6th (+5.6)
SS12: 6th (+7.5)
SS13: 4th (+8.5)
SS14: 7th (+2.0)
Elfyn Evans (4th) said:
“It’s been another challenging but rewarding day. The conditions made for some fairly tricky stages, but we delivered a clean and tidy drive and are in a good position going into the final day. It’s so close out there and it really is anyone’s for the taking. We’re still in the hunt and we’ll keep pushing to bring home a strong result.”
SUNINEN AND MARKKULA
Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula continued to learn as they encountered wet asphalt for the first time with a world rally car. The young Finn had much to discover but gained a wealth of knowledge and will take encouragement from his improving performance as well as a third fastest time when the conditions played to his advantage through the second pass of El Montmell (SS13).
SS9: 10th (+26.8)
SS10: 8th (+22.5)
SS11: 10th (+12.8)
SS12: 10th (+35.3)
SS13: 3rd (+6.6)
SS14: 22nd (+8.7)
Teemu Suninen (11th) said:
“It’s been another difficult day for us. This was our first time driving on wet Tarmac with this car and there were a lot of new things for me to learn. We also had some issues with the brakes in the middle stage this afternoon [SS12]. But then on the last long one [SS13] I was able to set quite a good time and I was happy with that. Of course there are still some seconds to find, but we showed some improvement which was good.”
1. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:35:01.8
2. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4.7
3. Sébastien Loeb / Daniel Elena (Citroen C3 WRC) +8.0
4. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +9.8
5. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +12.7
6. Dani Sordo / Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +16.5
7. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +46.5
8. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:00.7
9. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +1:37.9
10. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2:07.3
11. Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:14.5