Stage data: SS5, Terra Alta 2 (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:
Sebastien Loeb began his pursuit of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana leader Mads Ostberg with a storming stage win on the 44-kilometre Terra Alta test.
Loeb had been a muted presence so far in his final event as a full-time World Rally Championship contender, drifting to 35s off the lead in fourth place amid the horrible stage conditions that Friday initially delivered.
But as the weather improved a little by mid-afternoon, Loeb raised his game and delivered his and Citroen's first stage victory of the weekend.
That brought him up from fourth to second, and cut Ostberg's overall lead to 25s.
"I tried really hard. In this one it was a bit better," said Loeb. "I think in the previous stage it was getting muddy after the passes of the cars. Finally in this one I had a good drive."
Loeb's Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen lacked the confidence to take those risks and was a full 45s slower. That dropped him behind Jari-Matti Latvala to fourth in the overall standings.
There was plenty of drama in the battle for the rest of the top 10 spots too.
Ott Tanak was similar concerns to Hirvonen and tumbled from second to fifth overall.
Stage four winner Evgeny Novikov slid into a ditch, forcing him to retire, while Chris Atkinson parked his MINI with differential damage.
Fellow MINI man Jarkko Nikara was also in trouble, stopping to change and puncture and then grappling with a jack issue.
That means he is now back in seventh place, behind World Rally Car debutant Hans Wiejs in Nasser Al-Attiyah's usual Citroen.