WRC: Spain, Aus­tralia

The penul­ti­mate round of the World Rally Cham­pi­onship (WRC) in Catalunya saw rally leg­end Sébastien Loeb re­turn to the top spot af­ter five long years

Car India - - CONTENTS - Re­port: Ravi Chand­nani Pho­tog­ra­phy: Lulop.com

It was quite a spec­tac­u­lar round in Spain, where the nine-time World Rally Cham­pion and French ace, Sébastien Loeb, claimed his first WRC vic­tory in five years and his first Span­ish tri­umph in seven years. The vet­eran had a clean and con­sis­tent run right from the be­gin­ning and it was this con­sis­tency that led him to vic­tory in his Citroën.

As rally Catalunya kicked off, it was de­fend­ing cham­pion Sébastien Ogier who had the up­per hand as he won SS1 with 3.7 sec­onds be­tween him and the leader, Thierry Neuville of Hyundai Shell Mo­bis WRT . How­ever, on SS3, the gravel stage, Ott Tä­nak of Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing took the lead. He was fol­lowed by his team­mate, Jari-Matti Lat­vala, in se­cond and El­fyn Evans of M-Sport Ford in third. By this time, Sébastien Loeb was run­ning ninth.

By SS4, how­ever, Loeb had moved up the or­der into sixth and Ott Tä­nak was still lead­ing the way. Ogier, who was run­ning ahead, slowly fell back and by the end of the first day he was in seventh. The or­der af­ter the first seven stages was as fol­lows: Ott Tä­nak in the lead, fol­lowed by lo­cal hero Dani Sordo of Hyundai in se­cond, El­fyn Evans in third, Loeb in fourth, and Lat­vala in fifth.

Tä­nak started the se­cond day with a solid lead of 26.8 sec­onds. A few stages later, how­ever, he dropped to ninth with Dani Sordo emerg­ing as the new leader. By SS 12, Lat­vala had taken the lead from Sordo and Loeb was now run­ning in third. By the end of the day, Lat­vala man­aged to re­tain the lead; how­ever, Ogier made a su­perb come­back and was now just 4.7 sec­onds be­hind Lat­vala. Loeb, too, had a good and con­sis­tent run which saw the for­mer cham­pion end day two in third.

The fi­nal day started quite well for Loeb as he gained the lead in the open­ing stage it­self. As the day pro­gressed, Loeb con­tin­ued to de­fend his lead from a fast-charg­ing Ogier. Lat­vala, who was lead­ing ear­lier, ran into more trou­ble as he suf­fered from a punc­ture on SS17, ef­fec­tively end­ing his chances of chas­ing vic­tory. As the day came to an end, it was Loeb who grabbed his first WRC win af­ter five years. Ogier came home in se­cond, which saw him re­gain the cham­pi­onship lead by a mere three points. El­fyn Evans took the fi­nal podium spot, fol­lowed by Thierry Neuville in fourth with lo­cal hero Dani Sordo com­plet­ing the top five.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.