Spain countdown:
2016 rewind

We begin our build-up to RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España [5 - 8 October] with a look at the 2016 encounter when Sébastien Ogier had his eyes on a fourth consecutive WRC title.

Thursday 13 / Friday 14 October
Ott Tänak splashed to fastest time through a rain-lashed opening stage in Barcelona on Thursday evening, but home favourite Dani Sordo was in control on Friday, when the action switched to gravel tracks in the hills above the Costa Daurada.

Torrential rain turned the stages into a mudbath but Sordo stormed through in his Hyundai i20, building a 17.0sec lead over Ogier in a Volkswagen Polo R. Ogier's team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen completed Friday's podium, 18.1sec behind.

Sordo's team-mates Thierry Neuville and Hayden Paddon were split by just 1.2sec in fourth and fifth. Neuville led after SS2 and was second when he spun and clipped a tree in SS5, while Paddon’s anti-lag system failed to work all day. Mads Østberg was sixth after struggling with transmission problems.

Kris Meeke rolled his Citroën DS 3 in the opening stage after touching a bank. He recovered to seventh ahead of team-mate Craig Breen. Ott Tänak and Eric Camilli completed the leaderboard in Ford Fiesta RS cars. Jari-Matti Latvala became the rally's highest-profile casualty when he was sidelined with broken suspension on Friday afternoon.

Sordo was the early leader

Saturday 15 October
Having switched cars from dirt to asphalt specification, the action resumed on Saturday in hot and sunny conditions. The day ended with Ogier all but securing his fourth title after passing Sordo and ending the leg with a 5.8sec lead. Neuville was a further 58.1sec behind.

Ogier trimmed Sordo's lead to 7.7sec by mid-leg service with two stage wins. Three more fastest times followed in the afternoon to leave Ogier sitting pretty. Sordo struggled with understeer and even reduced his pace to try to improve grip.

Mikkelsen was distanced by the leading duo and slipping towards Neuville’s clutches when his Polo R drifted into a barrier in a fast right corner before rolling heavily.

Paddon made it three i20s in the top four. He was 16.1sec behind Neuville and 37.9sec ahead of Meeke. Østberg completed the top six in a Ford Fiesta RS ahead of the similar car of Ott Tänak.

Camilli retired when his car jammed in fifth gear while Breen snapped his DS 3’s front driveshaft and drove all morning with rear-wheel drive.     

Sunday 16 October
Ogier held on to take the rally win by 15.6sec from Sordo and seal his fourth title.

Neuville claimed the final podium place, a further 59.4sec behind. Paddon completed a strong weekend for Hyundai in fourth, 12.8sec further back.

Østberg secured his best result since April by finishing fifth. The Norwegian inherited the place after Meeke’s weekend came to a premature end when his Citroën DS 3’s engine failed in Sunday’s opening stage.

Tänak completed the top six ahead of Kevin Abbring, for whom seventh was a career-best result. WRC 2 winner Jan Kopecký finished eighth in a Skoda Fabia R5, with team-mate Pontus Tidemand and Breen completing the leaderboard.

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