Wrc.com stage summary
Stage data: SS3, Terra Alta 1 (44.02 kilometres - asphalt and gravel)
By Prodrive WRC Team co-driver Carlos del Barrio: “Firstly this is a very long stage. The first eight kilometres is brand new for everybody. It’s not very easy because you change from wide to narrow from muddy sections to loose. It’s quite difficult and very demanding for the drivers. When you get to the village, which was the start last year it’s more comfortable because this part is more-well known and it’s a Tarmac part. It’s a demanding stage because of the length and I have approximately 70 pages of pace notes.”
How the action unfolded:
Mads Ostberg inched ahead of Ott Tanak in their battle for the RallyRACC-Rally de Espana lead at the end of the mammoth 44-kilometre Terra Alta stage.
The two satellite Ford drivers stayed clear of their factory competition even as weather conditions improved slightly on the final stage of the morning loop.
Ostberg spun on the stage, but recovered his composure in time to pull 2.7s clear of Tanak at the front of the field.
The works Citroens started stretching their legs again as the rain eased, but despite Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen being first and second fastest on the lengthy stage, they did not take a great deal out of Ostberg and Tanak's advantage.
Hirvonen is 13s off the lead, and 6s ahead of Loeb.
The Citroens fared much better than the remaining factory Ford. Jari-Matti Latvala decided not to receive rivals' split times and was too cautious. He lost a lot of time and is now nearly one minute from the lead.
Jarkko Nikara's superb debut for the Prodrive MINI team continued as he moved to within 14s of Latvala in sixth place, while keeping Evgeny Novikov's Autotek Ford five seconds behind.
Nikara is now Prodrive's hope for a good result, as his team-mate Dani Sordo got stuck off the road on stage three.