Loeb claimed his first WRC victory in more than five years during an intense final day at RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España, and there are few changes to the series’ only mixed surface fixture for the 24 - 27 October encounter.

Salou’s PortAventura World theme park is the nerve centre for a 15th season and the town’s seafront hosts Thursday evening’s ceremonial start.

The action begins with the cars in gravel specification for Friday’s opening leg, the longest of the event at 129.70km. A gentle opener on the dirt roads of Gandesa (7.00km) and a reworked Horta-Bot (19.00km), leads into the fiendishly difficult 38.85km La Fatarella-Vilalba.

The longest stage of the rally mixes gravel and asphalt with frequent surface changes and those drivers who can master the 6.6km sealed surface section up to the midpoint on tired tyres can make decisive time gains.

Service in Salou precedes a repeat of the three tests before an extended 1hr 15min evening service in which teams race against the clock to convert their cars to asphalt trim.

Saturday is identical to 2018, featuring two loops of Savallà (14.08km), Querol (21.26km) and El Montmell (24.40km) before the traditional and spectacular Salou (2.24km) seafront special stage.

Sunday’s finale opens with the popular Riudecanyes (16.35km), complete with its famous roundabout junction, and the return of the twisty and technical La Mussara (20.72km) for the first time since 2014.

Both will be driven twice, separated by mid-morning service in Salou, with the second pass of La Mussara forming the Wolf Power Stage and offering bonus points to the fastest five drivers.

Drives face 17 tests covering 325.56km ahead of the Salou seafront podium ceremony.

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