Thu 27 Oct 2022

The Inside Line: Spain

The penultimate round of this year’s FIA World Rally Championship is done and dusted - and what a weekend it was for Toyota Gazoo Racing! Join us as we reflect on RallyRACC - Rally de España.

Star drive 
The world had been waiting for Sébastien Ogier to take his first win of the WRC’s hybrid era and it finally came in Salou. It took longer than expected, of course, although the Frenchman could have won the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo but for a penultimate stage puncture. 

There were no such dramas last week as Ogier showed exactly why he's an eight-time titelist. Competition was tight between him and 2022 champion Kalle Rovanperä but Ogier quickly closed the door on his Toyota team-mate with a particularly masterful drive on Saturday. 

Even more special was the fact that co-driver Benjamin Veillas, who won’t be in the car for FORUM8 Rally Japan, was able to end their partnership on a high with a maiden victory.

Most memorable stage 
There’s something special about rallying in the dark. It’s a journey into the unknown with a unique atmosphere as the spotlights flicker and the brake discs glow red. 

Sunday’s early morning opener at Pratdip gave us some amazing pictures - particularly the rearview camera on Jourdan Serderidis’ M-Sport Ford Puma. With the first car starting at 7AM, it certainly was a cool wake-up call. 

Biggest surprise
With back-to-back podiums in the previous five events, Dani Sordo was expected to maintain - if not better - that record on home soil. But that wasn’t the case for the Hyundai man as he finished down in fifth. 

Sordo’s podium bid took a punishing on Friday as he struggled to match the pace of the frontrunners despite there being no problems with the car. Set-up tweaks on Saturday unlocked a new turn of speed but by then it was too little, too late.

One to forget
Kajetan Kajetanowicz started the rally with a seven-point advantage over main WRC2 title rival Emil Lindholm but ended on an identical score to his Škoda Fabia Rally2 opponent after finishing sixth in the category. 

A Friday morning spin was partly to blame, although the Pole was never really in a position to challenge the leading crews. Lindholm finished fourth and won the Wolf Power Stage - meaning that Kajetanowicz must finish ahead of him in Japan to stand any chance of winning the title.

Best save
M-Sport Ford’s mechanics pulled off yet another mammoth task by fixing Gus Greensmith’s Puma, which suffered heavy damage when he ran wide into an armco barrier. 

It was important for the British team to get Greensmith back out on Sunday so that he could rebuild his confidence. Within just a few hours of the car arriving to the service park on the back of a truck it looked like new again. 

Quote of the rally 
"I came into this sport as a young lad and I followed the dream. I leave as a husband and a father with five wins and so many memories." 

Paul Nagle, co-driver to Craig Breen, bowed into retirement after 102 WRC starts. His reaction at the finish was pretty special.

You’ll never believe it 
Jan Černý finished just 9.0sec behind WRC3 winner Lauri Joona, who also clinched the championship title. Had Černý beaten his rival, the Czech driver would have become champion. 

The worst part is that Černý was dealt a 10sec penalty for arriving one-minute late to Saturday’s final stage. Without that, he’d have been spraying the champagne.

Number of the rally

55. The number of WRC victories Ogier now has under his belt. His foe Sébastien Loeb still comfortably holds the record for career wins with 80 in total. 

Fun fact 
Toyota Gazoo Racing has now won every available title for two years on the bounce - the manufacturers’, drivers’ and co-drivers’ crowns.

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM