In spite of some bad luck in the morning sections, Enrique Garcia Ojeda and Jordi Barrabes took a well-deserved fourth position for Subaru Rally Team Spain in the Rallye de Villajoyosa, the first event of the Spanish Tarmac Rally Championship. Their team mates, Mario Ceballos and Borja Rozada, completed a positive debut with the second Impreza Prodrive of the Subaru España works team, finishing in tenth overall.
The rally started with problems for Ojeda who noticed before leaving the first section that the transmission was not working correctly. Despite this the current champion of Spain managed to score the third best time on the initial stage, the dirty and twisty Finestrat, and he was now leading Group N. However his problems were persisting and on the faster Sella-Relleu and Relleu-Orxeta stages Ojeda could not defend the leadership of his category, arriving at the first service park in fourth position overall and second in his group.
During the 20 minutes in the service area it was not possible to completely fix the problem afflicting the Impreza number 1 and a delay penalty of 2m 10s was applied, which added to an unfortunate puncture in the second run of Finestrat, dropped Ojeda to tenth position. In spite of these misadventures, the Cantabrian pilot was not losing heart and he completed the second section with the third best time in the fifth stage and fastest on the sixth, which moved him up to sixth position at the midday service area. Here the excellent work of the KRS technical team fixed the problem that had delayed the Subaru, which from then on worked perfectly, allowing Ojeda-Barrabes to continue recovering positions in the afternoon sections. In the two following stages, Relleu-Penaguila and Gorga-Confrides, Quique was again amongst the fastest, registering the third and then second best times which allowed him to climb up to fourth position before the last section.
The last two stages of the rally became more complicated because of rain, with some damp areas in the final part of the first stage and more slippery tarmac over almost the entire length of the second. Ojeda went through them without problems and finally completed the event in fourth position, just 2m 40s behind the winner despite the 2m 10s penalty and the time lost due to the puncture, so the final feelings for driver and team were really positive, as it was shown that they can fight for victory on their first tarmac rally with the Subaru Impreza Prodrive prepared by KRS.
Mario Ceballos's rally was much quieter. The young Cantabrian driver started with the intention of running and amassing kilometres with the new Subaru Impreza Prodrive, and he achieved his target perfectly. Driving a very consistent rally, Mario was scoring times usually near the top ten, to finish the event reaching tenth position overall. He was showing a positive progression throughout the day, without making mistakes and getting to the end with the sister car of the Subaru Rally Team Spain, completing a very positive debut in the Spanish Tarmac Rally Championship for the works team of Subaru España.
Enrique Garcia Ojeda: "It has been a tarmac debut on a very hard day, with a lot of work. We had problems with a defective part in the gearbox, which was losing oil so the clutch was slipping, and we have done practically the whole rally with problems except for some sections in the afternoon. Therefore it has been very hard but we are very satisfied with the performance of the mechanics and of the whole team and we are fourth with some valuable points that could be very useful at the end of the year."
Mario Ceballos: "A very complicated rally, we have finished which was the target; we have done a lot of kilometres and have seen different types of tyres, testing our thinking for the Cantabria Rally, where we will go better. I am very satisfied with the work of the Subaru Rally Team Spain and its entire staff and I'm very happy about finishing this rally, which for me means a lot."