In the first part of our driver summary from Dayinsure Wales Rally GB, we reflect on the performances of the WRC stars as the 2016 championship took another step towards reaching its conclusion.
Hayden Paddon (Hyundai i20). Result 4th
Paddon [above] struggled on Friday’s opening stages, citing the characteristics of the roads as not being best suited to his aggressive driving style. Promised to attack on Saturday but that plan was put on the back burner as he struggled to find any kind of traction on the slippery roads. The resultant time loss meant he was unable to challenge team-mate Neuville and he narrowly missed out on a podium place for the second successive event.
Craig Breen (DS 3). Result: DNF
The Irishman settled into sixth place after the first four stages – only 4.6sec slower than team-mate Meeke. However, he couldn’t build on his promising start after crashing out on the second run through Myherin. The inside wheel of his DS 3 dug in to a ditch as he negotiated a fast left-hand bend and that pitched the car into a series of rolls. The car was deemed too badly damaged to continue and his event was over.
Ott Tänak (Ford Fiesta RS). Result: 2nd
Equalled his best-ever WRC result on the Rally GB stages. The Estonian fired a warning to his rivals by setting the pace at shakedown and he carried his impressive turn of speed on the muddy gravel stages into the rally. Okay, his soft tyres were perfectly suited to the conditions but he still had to wring all he could out of his Fiesta RS – and keep it on the road. His end-of-day charge at rally leader Ogier was admirable, but the gap proved too much to claw back. He missed victory by 10.2sec.
Dani Sordo (Hyundai i20). Result: 6th
After starring on Spain’s inconsistent dirt stages at the previous WRC round and finishing second overall, the Spaniard hoped for a similarly confident feeling on Welsh tracks that are famous for offering little in the way of grip. But it wasn’t to be. He never settled in the slippery conditions and that affected his pace. He made it to the finish and scored some points but the fact that he was more than four minutes off the pace highlighted how much he struggled.
Eric Camilli (Ford Fiesta RS). Result 10th
The Frenchman’s inexperience on the Rally GB stages showed and two punctures on the opening morning didn’t help his cause – especially with only one spare in the boot and no tyre fitting zone until after the first loop. The time lost on Friday dropped him to 16th at one point but he kept his nose clean for the rest of the rally and recovered to 10th at the finish. This will go down as a useful learning experience.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R). Result 7th
On the event where he made his WRC debut way back in 2002, much was expected of the Finn. He started well and held third place as the opening day neared its conclusion. However, his Polo R suffered the same transmission failure as team-mate Mikkelsen on Friday’s penultimate stage and the time loss was dramatic as he struggled with only two driving wheels. Dropped to eighth at the end of the first leg but recovered to pass Østberg for seventh on the final day.