Saturday | 25 Oct 2014

Tyre scare for leader Ogier

Leader Sébastien Ogier survived a major scare with his lead intact during Saturday afternoon’s second pass through RallyRACC - Rally de España’s marathon 50km speed test.

Stage info: SS11

Escaladei 2, 50.00km
The weekend’s keynote test covers exactly 50km to mark the rally’s half-century, and the final 24km have not been used since 2002. It includes the famous El Molar hairpin at 9.40km, which attracts huge crowds. It is undulating, fast and smooth until the final 7km section on older, narrower roads with sharp edges.

The Frenchman won the stage by 4.6sec from Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, despite driving nearly half of it with a vibration from a front tyre. “For 20km I drove with a delaminated tyre, but we survived,” said Ogier, who stretched his lead to 32.9sec.

Soaring temperatures made conditions tough for tyres and brakes, and the asphalt midway through the test was recorded at 35°C.

Latvala admitted to a degree of caution. “I didn’t want to push the tyres over the limit because we still have another long stage to go,” he said.

Andreas Mikkelsen’s hopes of claiming a podium finish disappeared when he stopped to replace a damaged tyre and lost 2min 30sec. “I had a puncture. I’m not sure where but we had a big vibration. My feeling is that it delaminated, but we have to take a look,” said the Norwegian, who plunged to seventh.

His problem left Mikko Hirvonen, fourth fastest in his Ford Fiesta RS, clear in third overall. The Finn has a 25.9sec advantage over Mads Østberg, who was unhappy with his driving.

“My pace notes are not perfect in the long corners on the wide roads and I’m lifting off the throttle in the flat out sections, even when the road is 15 metres wide,” he said.

Robert Kubica’s unhappy day ended when the Pole stopped 5km from the finish after ripping a front wheel from his Fiesta RS.

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