Sat 22 Oct 2022

Ogier breaks free of Toyota tussle

Sébastien Ogier stretched his RallyRACC - Rally de España lead to almost double figures with a clinical performance on a shortened Saturday morning.

"It's great," he smiled. "I think so far the car is working well and I am enjoying it. I am not yet at the absolute maximum but we have to carry on like this."

It was a positive morning for Neuville. He, too, outpaced Rovanperä on both tests and moved to within 4.5sec of the young Finn at the day’s midpoint. The Belgian was not completely satisfied, however, feeling there was still room for improvement with the set-up of his i20 N. 

"We are still working a bit on the car," Neuville explained. "When the road gets dirty I start to lose the feeling in the car and I don't know the limits. I feel there is more performance to come if we can find the right settings."

WATCH: Greensmith crashes on Saturday morning

Ott Tänak began to lose touch with his Hyundai colleague but still held onto fourth, albeit 13.0sec further back. He ended the loop 39.0sec ahead of fellow i20 N driver Dani Sordo, who was frustrated to be so far off the pace.

Sordo has finished on the podium in the past five rounds he has contested - but the Spaniard just couldn’t seem to hook things up on his local roads and now has just 3.0sec in hand over sixth-placed Toyota driver Elfyn Evans.

"I don't like excuses," he blasted at the end of SS10. "There are no problems with the car. I am just trying to go fast but the times are not very good."

The positions of Craig Breen and Takamoto Katsuta remained unchanged in seventh and eighth overall, while M-Sport Ford Puma youngsters Adrien Fourmaux and Pierre-Louis Loubet completed the leaderboard.

Loubet - who was dealt a 10sec penalty overnight for cutting a chicane - moved into the top 10 at Greensmith’s expense when the Briton retired following a heavy impact with an armco barrier. 

• 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.

The eight-time world champion, who ended Friday’s opening leg just 4.8sec clear of Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate Kalle Rovanperä, extended his advantage with a masterful drive on smooth and flowing roads in the Costa Daurada hills.

Hyundai Motorsport’s Thierry Neuville won the opener at Savallà before Ogier settled back into stage-winning form on the very next test. 

The Frenchman, most importantly, took time out of GR Yaris partner Rovanperä on both runs and, following the cancellation of El Montmell when Gus Greensmith crashed into a barrier, arrived back to service 9.7sec in the clear.

World champion Rovanperä was hesitant to push any harder for fear of breaking his already comfortable rhythm. Ogier was also in his happy place - enjoying dry conditions and a clean road.

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