ERIC CAMILLI SHOWED STRONG PACE ON SPAIN’S ASPHALT ROADS TO BUILD A COMFORTABLE OVERNIGHT LEAD IN WRC 2 AT RALLYRACC CATALUNYA - RALLY DE ESPAÑA ON SATURDAY.
After finishing Friday’s gravel stages in second position, the Frenchman stole the lead from Pierre-Louis Loubet during Saturday’s opening Savallá speed test. As the rally turned to Tarmac, Camilli was at home in his Citroën C3 and ended the day with a 1min 00.7sec lead.
Loubet set the pace during the opening day but was no match for his fellow countryman on Saturday. His Skoda Fabia R5 was rarely inside the top-five times on each stage. A puncture and a brief stall during the afternoon added to the drama, but the title favourite held onto second place as the rally approached its final day.
Kajetan Kajetanowicz enjoyed a day-long tussle with Finnish pilot Emil Lindholm. The pair, both driving Volkswagen Polos, traded times on every stage but it was Kajetaonwicz who held onto third at the end of the day, claiming a 10.5sec advantage over his rival.
Ole Christian Veiby dropped over two minutes in SS9 when his Polo picked up a puncture, but still managed to end his day in fifth. He inherited this position when Nikolay Gryazin crashed out during the closing Salou speed test.
Nil Solans was undoubtedly the star of Saturday. Although he was not in contention for a top result after a double puncture on Friday, the Spaniard took five fastest stage times in his Ford Fiesta and proved he has what it takes to mix it with the regulars.
Benito Guerra's championship hopes were dashed after his Fabia succumbed to mechanical issues and he was forced to retire for the day.
Mads Østberg endured a frustrating day in WRC 2 Pro but still held onto first place as the crews returned to the Salou service park. The Norwegian struggled with the handling of his Citroën C3 on the twisty Tarmac roads and was beaten on every stage.
Nevertheless, he did enough to stay in the lead by 42.1sec, a margin which would have been much slimmer had it not been for a late mistake by Kalle Rovanperä.
“It was quite frustrating this morning - I was not comfortable with the car and I was fighting it really hard. We managed to change some parts in service and quite quickly the car was better,” explained Østberg.
Rovanperä had shown true class on each stage and managed to reduce the gap to Østberg to just 9.8sec heading into the finale. However, the youngster’s hard work came undone when he hit a post in the Salou stage and damaged the rear axle on his Skoda. He dropped to third.
Swapping positions with his team-mate, Jan Kopecky moved into second whilst Gus Greensmith ended the day a distant fourth, almost three minutes adrift of the leaders in his Fiesta.