PIERRE-LOUIS LOUBET EDGED A STEP CLOSER TO LIFTING THE WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE AS HE ESTABLISHED A SLENDER OVERNIGHT LEAD AT RALLYRACC CATALUNYA - Rally de España ON FRIDAY.
The championship leader, driving a Skoda Fabia R5, capitalised on the misfortune of home hero Nil Solans to end Friday’s challenging stages with a 1.5sec lead in the category.
Solans set the early pace on his local event, with fastest times on the two opening speed tests. However, the Spaniard’s run of luck came undone when his Volkswagen Polo suffered a double puncture in the La Fatarella-Vilalba stage and he dropped over eight minutes.
Eric Camilli was hot on Loubet’s heels in second position on Friday evening. The Frenchman enjoyed a clean run across all six stages, taking two stage wins in his Citroën C3.
Norwegian youngster Ole-Christian Veiby was the fastest man through the opening pass of La Fatarella-Vilalba. He ended the day with third place in the category, 22.5sec back from the leaders.
Kajetan Kajetanowicz was a further 7.8sec further back in fourth place and Nikolay Gryazin rounded out the top-five, inheriting his position when Simone Tempestini’s Hyundai i20 ground to a halt in SS6. Other retirements included Adrian Fourmaux, whose Fiesta suffered an oil leak.
Mads Østberg was a dominant force in WRC 2 Pro. The Norwegian was never headed, taking six out of six stage wins to lead the category by 41.2sec overnight in a Citroën C3.
Fresh from sealing the championship title in Britain, Kalle Rovanperä struggled to find a comfortable rhythm in his Fabia and ended the day in second place.
“I don't know. I tried my best but the speed is just not there. I hope it will be better on the Tarmac because today was really bad,” said the young Finn.
Rovanperä’s teammate, Jan Kopecký, kept his nose clean on the tricky gravel stages to hold third place overnight, whilst a rear-left puncture in SS3 meant Gus Greensmith ended the first leg over two minutes adrift of the leaders in his M-Sport machine.