Spain Debrief: Part 2
In the second part of our debrief from RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España, we ponder quotes, rollercoasters and whether Hyundai could be after a fifth driver next year.
Saturday's opening El Montmell stage was where this rally was decided. The swap from gravel to asphalt was always going to shake things up, and when Kris Meeke completed Stage 7 a whopping 3.6.sec quicker than his rivals, it was clear that the Briton's Citroën C3 was going to take some beating.
From an overnight position of third, Meeke leapt into the lead, 9.1sec ahead of Sébastien Ogier. And from there he never looked back.
Quote of the rally
Meeke has been nominated many times in this year's 'rally to forget' category, so we make no apologies for including him twice today, when things are going rather better.
Standing at the stage end having secured his second win of the year, Kris channelled his inner Rocky Balboa to answer his critics and underline his determination. "It's not so important how many times you're knocked down - it's more important how many times you stand up again. And I've had to stand up a few times in my career..." he said. Stirring stuff.
Thrill of the rally
Rallying is already a tense and exciting sport, but the atmosphere in the service park this year was given extra drama by frequent screams of terror from Port Aventura's newest rollercoaster: Red Force.
The highest and fastest vertical accelerator in Europe, it shoots from zero to 180 km/h in 5 seconds and reaches a height of 112 metres. And all just a stone's throw from the service park arrival control. It was impossible to ignore. See for yourself in the video below.
You wouldn't believe it
We are right in the middle of the WRC silly season, when rumours spread about which drivers might end up where next year. Before Spain, reigning champion Ogier seemed to be heading down one of three routes in 2018: M-Sport, Citroën, or perhaps even retirement.
But Spain brought talk of another option - an audacious bid by Hyundai to get Seb in an i20 next year. With four drivers already on their books, we didn't see that one coming. Can it be true? We'll find out soon.
Video: Fastest WRC service park viewing position?
Spain debrief: part 1
We go in-depth from the WRC’s only mixed surface fixture
Wilson counts on home win
British squad poised to seal manufacturers' crown
Hyundai rues 'fragile' i20
Team acknowledges WRC machine lacks strength to be title challenger