Friday | 24 Oct 2014

Neuville cuts Ogier's lead

Sébastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville shared fastest times through the opening two stages of Friday afternoon’s loop at RallyRACC - Rally de España as the fight for the lead intensified.

Stage info: SS5 / SS6

Gandesa 2, 7.00km
The road from Gandesa to Bot is a repeat of last year’s stage. After 700m on asphalt, it’s fast and smooth gravel for the rest of the way on mid-to-wide undulating roads. Twisty throughout, it requires hard braking and a good balance with the car.

Pesells 2, 26.59km 
A difficult gravel test used in 2012 and 2013, Pesells is covered with a thin layer of gravel that will clean. After a slow opening, it becomes increasingly faster before a twisty final 4km. There are several short asphalt sections with barriers lining the most hazardous bends.

Ogier was quickest through Gandesa, despite admitting he tried to preserve his tyres in the high temperatures. Neuville fought back to win Pesells, cutting the Frenchman’s advantage by 5.3sec to leave the gap at 4.6sec with one test to go today.

“There was much more grip than this morning,” said Ogier. “The first one was aggressive on the tyres and I did my best to save them. The last stage will be hard for them.”

Neuville admitted to a ‘big push’ in both tests. “I was on the maximum. There’s no dust and it was more enjoyable than this morning. I tried to keep the pedal to the metal,” said the Belgian Hyundai i20 pilot.

Third in both stages kept Mads Østberg third overall in his Citroen DS3, while second fastest in both tests promoted Volkswagen’s Andreas Mikkelsen to fourth. He overhauled Mikko Hirvonen’s Ford Fiesta RS to hold a 3.9sec advantage.

Jari-Matti Latvala moved ahead of Robert Kubica into sixth, but the Finn remained unhappy. “Sometimes you don’t have the speed. Today I don’t have the speed,” he said.

Elfyn Evans lost a minute in SS5 after going off the road in his Fiesta RS, and retired after a repeat about 3km from the finish of Pesells. Dani Sordo dropped almost 30sec after a mix-up at the start of SS6 when co-driver Marc Marti miscalculated their start time.

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