WRC

Rally Catalunya: Subaru leg one summary

Starters 102 crews left the service park at PortAventura, Salou this morning for leg one Route The first four stages of leg one took place to the north east of Salou, starting 71km from the service park. Consisting of two individual ...

Starters

102 crews left the service park at PortAventura, Salou this morning for leg one

Route

The first four stages of leg one took place to the north east of Salou, starting 71km from the service park. Consisting of two individual stages each run twice, the newly installed concrete barriers designed to stop corner-cutting reduced the amount of dirt brought onto the route, making the second pass more predictable for the drivers. Stages five and six followed the second service of the day, heading west along the coast to include the infamous El-Lloar -- La Figuera section.

Weather

Torrential rain arrived late on Thursday and continued into the night, leaving the day's early stages wet. Temperatures picked up by mid-morning to dry the route by midday, only for the rain to return for the duration of SS6. Temperatures started at 13 degrees Celsius, reaching a high of 23 degrees Celsius.

Retirements

Stohl (Citroen); Perez Companc (Ford); Kopecky (Skoda)

Subaru World Rally Team summary

The Subaru World Rally Team has all three cars within the top ten at the end of leg one, after a tough day on the asphalt roads of Rally Catalunya. With conditions starting damp, the asphalt was greasy and the level of grip hard to predict for the first two stages, but dry by the time the drivers started SS4 at 13:34. As grip was improving, the drivers were thrown a final curveball when heavy rain fell just as SS6 started, catching most teams by surprise on a dry setup for the last 26.48km of leg one. Petter Solberg finished the day sixth overall, Chris Atkinson eighth and Xevi Pons ninth.

Petter Solberg and Phil Mills had a consistent day in the top six. The duo finished with a solid drive to fourth fastest in the treacherous conditions on SS6 while being unable to change from a dry setup for the sudden rain. The Norwegian's confidence in the car allowed him to close on Francois Duval in fifth position to narrow the gap to just 9.6 seconds. Using the day to make small setup changes, Petter felt the balance of the car improved, and there is still more to come for the next two legs.

With conditions for SS1 damp and slippery, Chris Atkinson took a gamble on harder tyres, finishing sixth fastest in the first stage but experiencing a serious lack of grip in the second. He overshot a junction and, while the car was undamaged, had slipped to 11th by the time he finished. The first service of the day allowed a change of BFGoodrich compound that allowed Chris and co-driver Stephane Prevot to return to posting top-six stage times and climb the overall standings steadily to eighth at the end of leg one, 11.0 seconds behind Latvala in seventh.

After an encouraging shakedown session in which Xevi Pons was second fastest, Friday morning was a little more challenging for Subaru's local boy, who encountered brake troubles during the first loop of two stages. Having improved the situation, he climbed to seventh overall before a stall dropped him to ninth by the end of SS3. Buoyed by the enthusiasm and cheers of the local fans, Xevi drove through the rain on SS6 with malfunctioning windscreen wipers, greatly impeding his visibility, to consolidate ninth overall by the end of the day.

Team quotes

Subaru World Rally Team Managing Director, Richard Taylor:

"Following our recent good pace on asphalt in Germany and in tests here in Spain, today has been disappointing for the team. The results have not been what we expected, so tonight we will check all our data very carefully and start tomorrow afresh with a view to getting all our drivers higher up the leaderboard."

CAR NUMBER 7 Petter Solberg:

"We've had no real problems today - just a stall on a start line one time - but that's it. The weather conditions certainly made things interesting, and it was very tricky at times, but overall I'm happy with what I've done here. Tomorrow we'll try to do the same again, but of course we'll always be looking for improvement wherever we can. I think it's possible to beat Duval -- that would be good."

CAR NUMBER 8 Chris Atkinson:

"It's been okay. We didn't get off to the best start, with the wrong tyre choice for the opening section, and the changeable weather and the rain this afternoon have made it quite a tricky day all round. But it's good to get through, and good to gain experience in these conditions, which I guess I don't really have much of on asphalt. It's all valuable knowledge. We'll make some changes to the car tonight and see if we can't go a little quicker tomorrow. I think we can move up a place, but beyond that depends on how good it all feels."

CAR NUMBER 14 Xevi Pons:

"It's been a difficult day for me. We had some problems with the brakes in the morning and on the last stage my windscreen wipers broke right when the rain started to fall, so on balance it's hard to be too positive. Okay, we're in ninth position now, and there's still a long way to go, but getting a good result on this rally is going to be extremely hard. I'll do my best tomorrow, but from now on I'm going to be preparing a little for the next rally in Corsica at the same time as completing this one."

Tomorrow's leg

Leg two takes the drivers on an anticlockwise loop to the north west of service park, consisting of four stages every one of which is run twice. Typically scenic, leg two includes Coll del Grau, the closest the WRC gets to a race track, and La Serra d'Almos, the shakedown route run in reverse and the shortest of the rally at only 4.11km.

-credit: swrt.com

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Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team