Stage data: SS7, La Mussara 1 (20.48 kilometres - asphalt)
By Prodrive WRC Team co-driver Carlos del Barrio: “It’s another very well known stage where Sebastien Ogier had engine failure last year when it was included on the last day. It’s very demanding for the tyres and very nice for the fast downhill section. It will be good to start on Tarmac.”
How the action unfolded:
Jari-Matti Latvala has flown to his second stage win of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana with a storming time through Saturday’s opener, La Mussara, beating asphalt master Sebastien Loeb in the process.
Driving a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Latvala was 7.1s quicker than nine-time world champion Loeb, who has won in Spain on seven previous occasions for Citroen. “It’s a good start, the car is working really well,” said Latvala. “I’m surprised Sebastien was not flying on this stage but you never know, there is always something coming from him.”
Loeb said he wasn’t entirely happy with the handling of his DS3 WRC. “It was too hard for this condition, it should get dry later. I couldn’t trust the rear of the car, it was sliding and nervous and I didn’t want to take big risks.”
Nevertheless, the French legend has trimmed Mads Ostberg’s overall lead to 24.9s after what he described as a “careful” run in the cool and slightly damp conditions.
There was frustration for Spanish hero Dani Sordo, whose MINI John Cooper Works WRC dropped onto three cylinders midway through the stage. “I made a mistake yesterday so this can happen,” said Sordo. “It’s life and I will try to do something now. It’s frustrating because my time was very good until then.”
Thierry Neuville, back in action following his exit on Friday morning, reported a loss of brakes on his Citroen, while Ott Tanak said he found it difficult to get into the right rhythm at the stage start. Meanwhile, Evgeny Novikov said his car’s brakes lost performance with eight kilometres left to run.