Saturday | 24 Oct 2015

SS13: Ogier capitalises on deflated Latvala

Sébastien Ogier ended Saturday morning’s stages at Spain’s RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada with a lead of nearly a minute after team-mate and closest rival Jari-Matti Latvala broke a wheel.

Stage info: SS12/13

SS12: Poboleda 1, 10.63km
This is another test that is reminiscent of a race track and speed and lines are crucial. It starts after the village of La Vilella Baixa and the roads are twisty until the Carthusian monastery of Escaladei. Then it’s all new, on more open and flowing asphalt, to the finish before the village of Poboleda.

SS13: Capafonts 1, 19.80km
A historic test last used when the rally was part of the European Championship. The first section runs through forests on twisty but good asphalt. It becomes faster and climbs, before a final descent to Alcover on a road that is wider but of poorer quality. It is a more open and flowing stage than Saturday’s other tests, and the second half is extremely quick.

The Frenchman added a third stage win in Poboleda and returned to the mid-leg service in Salou with a 51.4sec advantage over Dani Sordo’s Hyundai i20.

“We pushed hard this morning to try to make a difference. When Jari-Matti punctured the gap became bigger so it’s not the same level of attack. I’m having great fun and I’ll keep the same approach so that I can enjoy driving these fantastic stages,” said Ogier.

Latvala’s hopes of taming his Volkswagen Polo R colleague ended in Poboleda after, ironically, he had cured the brake dramas that blighted him in the opening two tests.

“I’ve been fighting all morning with my brakes. It was only there that I finally got them right and started a big attack. I cut a corner and there was some concrete on the inside. I hit it and broke the wheel straight away,” explained the Finn, who drove 10km with a flat tyre.

He dropped to fourth, 7.5sec behind Sordo and 6.0sec adrift of third-placed Andreas Mikkelsen. Sordo’s despondency at the handling of his i20 was replaced by a more upbeat attitude after Capafonts.

“We made some changes to the car and it’s better. The last section was really, really nice. A bit too fast in some places but better and better. A big push,” said the Spaniard.

Mads Østberg was fifth, but frustrated with his morning performance, and Citroën team-mate Kris Meeke narrowed the gap to 11.6sec. Hyundai duo Hayden Paddon and Thierry Neuville were seventh and eighth, with Martin Prokop and WRC 2 leader Pontus Tidemand completing the leaderboard.

M-Sport’s disappointing morning became worse in Capafonts. Having earlier lost Ott Tänak from third (pictures below), Elfyn Evans retired when his Ford Fiesta RS went off into a ditch.

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