Stage data: SS17, Santa Marina 2 - POWER STAGE (26.51 kilometres - asphalt)
By Prodrive WRC Team co-driver Carlos del Barrio: “This stage is exactly the same as last year expect we did it in the dark before sunrise on the final day. It’s a very nice stage with good grip and very wide for eight kilometres. In the middle part it’s tricky, not so wide with gravel on top. Everybody knows this and it will be demanding for the tyres, especially on the last downhill section.”
How the action unfolded:
Jari-Matti Latvala has thanked the factory Ford team after winning RallyRACC-Rally de Espana’s Power Stage to earn three FIA World Rally Championship bonus points.
Latvala, who beat event leader Sebastien Loeb by 10.7s to cut the nine-time title winner’s advantage to 9.1s with one stage remaining, said advice from his engineers to use hard compound tyres paid dividends.
“I have to be honest and say thank you to the team,” said Latvala. “We did absolutely the correct choice. We were expecting only a little rain so hard tyres was the right decision. Unfortunately we are now running out of kilometres [to catch Loeb].”
Latvala’s performance means he is virtually assured of third place in the final drivers’ standings ahead of Mads Ostberg, who trails Mikko Hirvonen in fourth overall.
Ostberg narrowed the gap to Hirvonen to 7.2s but has conceded the deficit is too great for the final 4.11-kilometre test. “I tried at least,” said Ostberg, who was fourth quickest and outside of the bonus point positions. “I couldn’t do anything more. That’s it.”
Dani Sordo was second fastest to earn two bonus points in his Prodrive-run MINI. “It was impossible to do the best time when there is raining,” said Sordo. “Jari-Matti do really well in the stage before but on this stage it was all the time with the wipers and in the middle it was sliding and wet [but dry for him].”
While Latvala flew, Loeb rued his decision to use a combination of soft and hard compound tyres in the mistaken belief it would rain heavily on the stage. “It was not wet enough, we expected rain but we got just a few drops,” said Loeb, who claimed the final bonus point with the third best time for Citroen. “We had two softs and two hards [tyres] and we really pushed hard to do this time. We are still in the lead but the gap will be a bit smaller now. There are only four kilometres to go so we will see.”