Friday | 23 Oct 2015

SS5: All change as Ogier leads

Sébastien Ogier led team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala by eight-tenths of a second after a dramatic end to Friday morning’s stages at Spain’s RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada.

Stage info: SS4 / 5

SS4: Bot 1, 6.50km
Friday’s shortest test starts in the village of Bot and climbs all the way until a final asphalt section that heads downhill into the finish outside Gandesa. The initial gravel is firm and wide, but there are a couple of off-camber corners that might trap drivers. This stage was run in the opposite direction in 2014.

SS5: Terra Alta 1, 35.68km
Terra Alta is the longest and toughest stage of the rally. It starts in Vilalba del Arcs, heading away through a well-known zig-zag which offers great views of the village and its bell tower in the background. It is mostly gravel but drivers face five surface changes, including an incredibly twisty and undulating 6km asphalt section in the middle and a tight asphalt hairpin on tyres well-used by the gravel roads before the finish.

The two Volkswagen Polo R drivers were sixth and seventh heading into the demanding mixed surface Terra Alta stage. But the leaderboard turned upside down in the longest stage of this penultimate round of the WRC season.

Latvala was fastest by 4.1sec from Ogier, the disadvantage of running first and second in the start order on slippery gravel more than compensated for by the mid-stage asphalt. Both enjoyed a clean run on the sealed surface section while those behind struggled for grip as the early starters dragged dirt and stones onto the road.

“Towards the end it started to get quite difficult with the tyres but I think we managed it quite well. I drove completely differently this time to last year. The car set-up is changed and my approach to corners is a lot more brave,” said Latvala.

Robert Kubica and Mads Østberg topped the leaderboard going into the stage. However, Kubica changed a puncture shortly after the start and picked up another on the rear left near the finish.

“I’m unsure if I had a puncture before the corner but I went into a flat right bend with massive oversteer and hit the bank. We couldn’t get the wheel on the hub and when we were back in the car the marshal stopped us as Stéphane Lefebvre was coming,” said Kubica.

Østberg drove the final 13km with a slow puncture at the rear right of Citroën’s DS 3. He dropped almost 30sec to slip to fifth.

Ott Tänak won the Bot test and third in Terra Alta promoted the Estonian to third in a Ford Fiesta RS, just 2.5sec off the lead. He was 7.2sec clear of Dani Sordo, whose consistent morning ended with third and fourth fastest times in his Hyundai i20.

Hayden Paddon struggled for grip near the finish and dropped from third to sixth, just ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen, who had brake problems in the last section. Elfyn Evans, Kris Meeke and Thierry Neuville completed the leaderboard, Neuville stalling his i20 twice.

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