Cycling star joins WRC aces in Spain

A total of 72 crews will start the upcoming RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España (5 - 8 October), an event that boasts a full house of entries across all WRC categories - and a very special guest from the world of pro cycling.

The 11th of this year's 13 rounds, Spain is the only mixed-surface rally in the calendar, and the unique challenge has attracted competitors in the WRC, WRC Trophy, WRC 2, WRC 3 and Junior classes.

Alongside the WRC regulars, the entry list also features a high-profile newcomer in the shape of three-time world champion cyclist Óscar Freire.

The 41-year-old Spaniard, [below] who won four Tour de France stages and the points classification in 2008, retired from cycle racing in 2012 and last year took up rally driving. He will make his WRC rally debut at the wheel of a Kia pro_cee'd GT.

There are 13 crews on the list in 2017-spec World Rally Cars. Entries are headed by championship leader, and last year's winner in Spain, Sébastien Ogier, who will drive a Ford Fiesta along with M-Sport team-mates Ott Tänak and Elfyn Evans. Andreas Mikkelsen will make his i20 competitive debut when he joins Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo at Hyundai, while Hayden Paddon will sit this round out.

Citroën will be represented by C3 drivers Kris Meeke, Stéphane Lefebvre and Khalid Al Qassimi, while Toyota will run Yaris World Rally Cars for Esapekka Lappi, Jari-Matti Latvala and Juho Hänninen. Norway's Mads Østberg and co-driver Torstein Eriksen will return in a 2017-spec M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC after missing the previous round in Germany.

Valeriy Gorban and Jean-Michel Raoux will battle in the WRC Trophy category for pre-2017 World Rally Cars.
       
Sixteen crews are registered in WRC 2, including Rally Italia Sardegna winner Jan Kopecky and WRC rising star Teemu Suninen. WRC 2 front-runners Eric Camilli and Ole Christian Veiby are also on the entry list, but have not nominated the rally as a scoring round.

Five crews in Ford Fiesta R2s will contest the Junior WRC category, including championship leader Nil Solans. These drivers and France's Raphaël Astier are registered in WRC 3.

Click here to see the complete entry list.

Video: Óscar Freire

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