Spain countdown: rally route
Major changes to WRC’s penultimate fixture
A category victory on the mixed surface roads of Tarragona will secure the WRC 2 crown, having won his second Cross-Country Rally World Cup in Morocco two weeks ago and a remarkable 11th Middle East Rally Championship in Jordan last weekend.
Although six drivers remain in contention for the WRC 2 title with two rounds remaining, Al-Attiyah is the only one who can win it in Spain and clinch back-to-back championships after his 2014 success.
Both the Qatari and nearest challenger Esapekka Lappi are contesting their final points-scoring round, while four other drivers can count points from Spain and the season-ending Wales Rally GB (12 - 15 November).
The scoring permutations, in which drivers count their best six results from their first seven rounds, are varied and complex. But wins in Mexico, Portugal and Australia make Al-Attiyah favourite.
Al-Attiyah, Lappi and the Finn’s team-mate, Pontus Tidemand, the rank outsider of the six challengers, are driving Skoda Fabia R5s. The other three are in Ford Fiestas, third-placed Yuriy Protasov and fourth-placed Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari in Regional Rally Cars and Finn Jari Ketomaa in a R5 model.
Lappi’s challenge could be helped by team-mate Jan Kopecky, who won in Germany, while Frenchman Julien Maurin, winner at the previous round in Corsica this month, will be strong once the event switches from mixed surfaces to his favoured asphalt for the final two legs.
In the Production Cup within WRC 2, top two Max Rendina and Gianluca Linari are absent. It allows Joan Carchat, in third, and fourth-placed Alain Foulon to boost their title hopes in Mitsubishi Lancers.