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Mon 17 Oct 2022

Rally Rewind: Spain 2021

The hills behind Spain’s Costa Daurada are about to witness a weekend’s worth of fast-paced FIA World Rally Championship action. But first, let’s cast our minds back to what happened on the smooth asphalt roads in 2021.

1. Fiery Neuville overcomes late drama
Thierry Neuville was on fire as he sped to a convincing RallyRACC - Rally de España win but a late drama almost sent his victory hopes up in flames.

The Belgian dominated the event and won 10 of the 17 smooth asphalt speed tests in the Costa Daurada hills to secure his second win of the 2022 season by 24.1sec - but his calm progress erupted into a full-on drama at the regroup ahead of the closing Wolf Power Stage.

His Hyundai i20 refused to start and flames leapt from the rear of the car as the crew battled to push-start it.

“Literally the car was on fire,” Neuville explained at the time. “We were making some flames but it is a problem that we have faced several times this season.

"Luckily, we were not far from the regroup and Martijn [co-driver Wydaeghe] and I were able to push it into regroup and we got help from the marshals. There were enough of them to help us and give us the support and it started and fired up immediately."

2. Sordo’s Sunday charge
Hyundai stalwart Dani Sordo drew praise from then team boss Andrea Adamo when the Spaniard reeled in Toyota's Sébastien Ogier with a huge push on Sunday. 

Despite starting the closing leg 1.2sec behind his former Citroën team-mate, Sordo landed a clean sweep of four stage wins in his i20 World Rally Car. The perfect Sunday gave him third place by 6.8sec, securing a double podium for the Alzenau-based squad with title-chasing Ogier one place behind.

“We have to thank Dani,” Adamo lauded. “He has done something on the final day that I have not seen in many years – he’s better when he’s catching the guy in front! It was amazing."

3. Ogier’s performance dwindles
Dropping to fourth overall behind Sordo capped off another frustrating weekend for the Frenchman as he struggled with the set-up of his Toyota Yaris.  

Having led the series by 44 points before the previous round in Finland - where he finished fifth - Ogier left Spain just 17 points clear of team-mate Elfyn Evans. Luckily for Ogier, however, he was able to seal the deal at the following round in Monza.

4. Katsuta’s early exit
Takamoto Katsuta made the worst possible start to the rally when he slammed his Yaris into a roadside barrier in the opening speed test.

The Japanese driver was too fast into a tightening right bend near the finish of the Vilaplana special stage and ploughed into the metal barrier.

Katsuta limped to the finish with heavy damage to the front left suspension of his Yaris and with two more stages to tackle before service, he had no option but to retire for the day.


5. Pajari’s crowning weekend
It was a history-making weekend for Sami Pajari as he clinched the 2021 FIA Junior WRC title in an M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally4.

At 19 years and 325 days old, Pajari became the youngest driver and first Finn to take the honours in the championship’s 20-year history.

  • Full coverage from RallyRACC - Rally de España will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.