Friday | 23 Oct 2015

SS7: Latvala demotes team-mate Ogier

Jari-Matti Latvala became Friday’s third different leader of Spain’s RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada when he relegated team-mate Sébastien Ogier out of pole position.

Stage info: SS6 / 7

SS6: Móra d’Ebre - Ascó 2, 9.62km
Friday afternoon’s opener blends slippery gravel roads with short asphalt sections through a wind farm between the villages of Móra d’Ebre and Ascó. It starts with 500m of asphalt before climbing on a narrow gravel road to the mountain top. The track becomes wider at the start of a steep descent, with several stretches of asphalt leading to a fast finish. A new stage for 2015.

SS7: Caseres 2, 12.50km
Apart from a new opening 1.68km, this is last year’s Pesells stage. The new section is fast and narrow before an undulating road heads through a wind farm and on to a tricky hairpin just before the finish, where drivers must brake on gravel before turning left on dirty asphalt.

The Finn moved to the front in his Volkswagen Polo R on the repeat of the Móra d’Ebre - Ascó test. Second fastest in the following Caseres enabled Latvala to head off to the final two stages of the first full day of action with a 1.6sec advantage.

But it wasn’t Ogier in second. Ott Tänak won SS6 in a Ford Fiesta RS and fourth fastest in the next stage put the Estonian 1.2sec clear of Ogier.

Higher temperatures and rougher gravel roads than this morning’s opening pass made tyre management of paramount importance with the tough 35.68km Terra Alta stage to follow later today.

“The grip was high but it was hard on the tyres. We were playing with them,” said Latvala, whose comment was typical of most drivers.

Mads Østberg, who dropped to fifth after a puncture this morning, was fastest through Caseres in Citroën’s DS 3 to close to within 5.3sec of fourth-placed Dani Sordo’s Hyundai i20.

Thierry Neuville produced his best performance of the rally with third in Caseres. The Belgian tweaked the ride height on his i20 during the mid-leg break and although that improved the feeling, Neuville felt the rear differential settings were affecting the handling.

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