Andreas Mikkelsen crashed out of third place at RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España on Saturday afternoon to move Sébastien Ogier closer to his fourth consecutive drivers’ world title.
Stage info: SS12/13
SS12: Alcover - Capafonts 2, 19.93km
The same stage as last year’s Capafonts test, but in the opposite direction. The opening section covers a fast and wide road but on broken asphalt. It becomes narrower at the midpoint, near the village of Mont-ral, as the surface also improves. After a twisty section through trees, the stage becomes flatter before the finish in Capafonts.
SS13: Querol 2, 21.26km
After two years out of the itinerary, Querol is back. It starts in the village of Pontils and the road is narrow but well-surfaced until the Esblada junction near the midpoint. From that point, it becomes narrower as the stage descends through Querol to the finish near Pont d’Armentera.
Mikkelsen’s Volkswagen Polo R drifted wide in a fast right corner early in the Alcover - Capafonts speed test and hit a barrier, before rolling several times down the road.
He and co-driver Anders Jaeger were unhurt but their demise means Ogier will secure the title unless he fails to score and Thierry Neuville takes maximum points.
Ogier was quickest through both stages in his Polo R to further reduce Dani Sordo’s lead to 2.5sec with two stages remaining in this penultimate leg. Sordo was second and third in the two stages, but the Spaniard had an air of resignation at the finish of Querol.
“It’s impossible to do any more. I’m too much on the limit. Not over the limit but I can’t go any faster. It’s a bit frustrating,” he said.
Neuville climbed to third, a minute behind Ogier. He changed his Hyundai i20 at mid-leg service to improve its handling, but understeer remained an issue. The Belgian reverted closer to his morning set-up and although the balance was better, he lacked confidence with the front.
Kris Meeke survived a 360-degree fifth-gear spin in Alcover - Capafonts which ripped off his Citroën DS 3’s front right bodywork. “I thought I’d got away with it until we lost the bumper. Too many silly mistakes this rally, I need to eliminate them,” said the Ulsterman.
Eric Camilli’s Ford Fiesta RS jammed in fifth gear in the same test and the Frenchman retired after the stage. Jari-Matti Latvala dropped 40sec with a puncture in his Polo R in SS12, but bounced back with second in the following test.