Stage data: SS1, Gandesa (7.00 kilometres - gravel)
By Prodrive WRC Team co-driver Carlos del Barrio: “It’s a short stage but brand new for everybody. It starts on Tarmac and then goes downhill with tricky braking points. There is a quite a loose surface and it’s not very wide. Everybody will take care because it’s easy to make a mistake considering we only run once and it’s brand new. But it’s a good warm-up for the next stage.”
How the action unfolded:
Jari-Matti Latvala began his final rally with Ford in style by setting the pace on the wet first stage of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana.
In increasingly damp conditions, Latvala ran hard tyres on the front and softs on the rear as he set a time of 4m40.5s.
That was half a second faster than an impressed Sebastien Loeb, who ran the more appropriate soft tyres all round and had plenty of respect for Latvala's time.
Loeb's Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen drove tentatively after an early scare, but was still within 1.7s of the lead.
Petter Solberg was fourth quickest, while just one tenth of a second covered Ott Tanak, Thierry Neuville and Mads Ostberg in fifth through seventh places. Ostberg coped well with running four hard tyres.
Jarkko Nikara upstaged Prodrive MINI team-mate Dani Sordo on their first stage together, pipping the Spaniard - who made a small mistake - by 1.2s.
Martin Prokop completes the early top 10 despite stalling at the stage start.
Sardinia runner-up Evgeny Novikov began his rally with a muted 13th fastest, while Citroen debutant Hans Weijs had a quick spin.