World Rally Championship teams are taking on Rally de Espana this weekend with a mixture of asphalt and gravel roads,
Dani Sordo has gone fastest in shakedown for Rally de Espana, round 12 of the FIA World Rally Championship.
At the wheel of a Citroen DS3 WRC, the Spaniard set a time of 1m22.7s through the 2.5-kilometre stage near Salou this afternoon.
In dry and sunny conditions, he was 0.2s faster than Volkswagen Polo R driver Jari-Matti Latvala. Latvala’s team-mate Sebastien Ogier was third, one-tenth of a second further back.
This year’s shakedown took place on an all-asphalt road, in contrast to the mixed asphalt and gravel of the 2012 version.
Sordo is one of the favourites do well this week, after scoring his maiden WRC win at Rallye Deutschland in August, and taking the runner-up position on the WRC’s last asphalt counter, Rallye de France, earlier this month.
Back at the Citroen service area Sordo told wrc.com he was feeling confident. “The four runs we did were good and I’m happy with the car. We didn’t do a pre-event test but the car still feels okay. We’re running quite a similar set-up to the one we used in France,” he said.
However many drivers questioned the relevance of the shakedown, as its character bore little relation to the rally’s actual stages.
Ogier said: “I think it’s the worst one we have ever had! It’s nothing, just a roundabout with a straight and some chicanes. We did the four runs we are required to do and that’s it. I’m quite happy with the car though. We tested last week and adapted our French set-up a bit. I’m feeling very confident for the rally.”
“It didn’t give us a proper feeling for the rally,” agreed Latvala, “but we were able to check that everything on the car works okay and to look at the data. That’s the main thing we achieved.”
Andreas Mikkelsen was fourth quickest in another Volkswagen Polo R, with Ford Fiesta RS driver Evgeny Novikov rounding off the top five times.
After this afternoon’s prelude, the real competitive action begins on Friday evening after a ceremonial start in Barcelona. The opening 21-kilometre Querol stage begins at 2003hrs.