Catalunya WRC: Latvala leads Ogier and Loeb into final day

Jari-Matti Latvala became the fourth different leader on Rally Catalunya after the Saturday stages, as the Toyota driver chases his first World Rally Championship victory in 20 months.

Catalunya WRC: Latvala leads Ogier and Loeb into final day
Listen to this article

The changing weather conditions meant running order proved critical across the afternoon’s four asphalt stages; those late onto the routes struggling in heavy rain.

After Ott Tanak suffered a puncture on the morning’s final leg that cost him his commanding 32.9-second lead, Hyundai’s returning Dani Sordo had led his home event.

But Sordo lost out to Latvala on the first use of Savalia – after the morning’s run was cancelled due to badly placed spectators. Compounding his woes, on SS13 he was slowest of the WRC field and so dropped to sixth.

That allowed a consistent Latvala, who has not won in the WRC since Sweden last season, to steal a 4.7s march, despite what he considered to be a poor performance on the reversed El Montmell stage.

“It was quite muddy and I was too cautious because Ott had a puncture here,” he said. “I was too cautious with the exits. I was not confident in the car. Not great driving, it’s poor, I didn’t drive well.”

As Tanak admitted that his title hopes were over, Sebastien Ogier climbed from fifth to second as he hunts down championship leader Thierry Neuville.

However, the M-Sport driver still lamented lost time on SS13. It began in dry conditions, allowing Neuville on soft tyres to set the fastest time - although Ogier, on wet tyres, was only 0.9s off the benchmark,

He said: "It has been a difficult afternoon unfortunately. It is a team sport, we all work together, but we trusted our [meteorologist] and there was no rain all afternoon.”

After his leg had ended, wet weather moved in. That meant Sebastien Loeb was unable to take advantage of the extra grip available from his soft tyres and so fell behind Ogier.

Conditions continued to deteriorate, however, for those behind him, and the nine-time WRC champion hangs on to a potential podium by 1.3s ahead of Elfyn Evans.

Neuville lies fifth, ahead of Sordo and Esapekka Lappi who suffered a high-speed, sixth gear spin also on SS13. 

Citroen’s Craig Breen – who reckoned he had “the most horrible stage I’ve ever driven in my life” during the morning – and Tanak are eighth and ninth.        

Gearshift issues for Eric Camilli on SS11 look set to deny the Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 a WRC2 victory on its maiden competitive event, as Skoda Fabia driver Kalle Rovanpera moved to top of the class.

Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

Photo by: Austral / Hyundai Motorsport

shares
comments
Catalunya WRC: Tanak drama gifts Sordo narrow lead
Previous article

Catalunya WRC: Tanak drama gifts Sordo narrow lead

Next article

Catalunya WRC: Loeb takes lead ahead of final stages

Catalunya WRC: Loeb takes lead ahead of final stages
How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy Prime

How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy

Thierry Neuville led a maiden Hyundai 1-2-3 in the World Rally Championship, as the previously soft i20 N became a battle-hardened Greek warrior at the Acropolis Rally. But with team orders in play between the winner and Hyundai’s title protagonist Ott Tanak, could the result come back to haunt the team?

WRC
Sep 12, 2022
How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders Prime

How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders

After runaway World Rally Championship leader Kalle Rovanpera made his first major mistake of the season, the chance to take advantage was wide open for the chasing pack. Several of his rivals faltered to grasp the opportunity, but Ott Tanak made no such mistake and demonstrated his class with a third win of the campaign

WRC
Aug 22, 2022
Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life Prime

Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life

Toyota locked out the top four places in the World Rally Championship's recent Safari Rally Kenya in a clear indication of its GR Yaris Rally1 hybrid's pace and durability. Motorsport.com was recently given a tour of the new factory where its cars are designed, tested and built, and it reveals much about the commitment of the Japanese marque to continued WRC success.

WRC
Aug 19, 2022
How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession Prime

How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession

Finland may have a small population, but it has long enjoyed rallying success. Now that the nation has a new star to cheer in the form of Kalle Rovanpera, interest in the discipline is surging once again.

WRC
Aug 10, 2022
How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera's Finnish homecoming Prime

How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera's Finnish homecoming

Kalle Rovanpera and Toyota went into Rally Finland as overwhelming favourites but came away as runners-up to a resurgent Ott Tanak and Hyundai. While it may have dampened the homecoming party, it still moved the Finn closer to the ultimate World Rally Championship prize

WRC
Aug 8, 2022
Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home Prime

Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home

Hyundai is one of the World Rally Championship's big three, and has a brand-new travelling facility befitting of that status. The team invited Motorsport.com for a behind-the-scenes look at its state-of-the-art HQ, which comes complete with all the bells and whistles you'd expect of a top Formula 1 outfit.

WRC
Jul 27, 2022
How Rovanpera's latest masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped Prime

How Rovanpera's latest masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped

After trailing Toyota teammate Elfyn Evans for much of Rally Estonia's opening day, WRC points leader Kalle Rovanpera took advantage of a change in the weather and never looked back afterwards. Winning for a fifth time this year at the scene of his 2021 breakthrough, and with a breathtaking powerstage bonus for good measure, his advantage is already looking difficult to topple.

WRC
Jul 18, 2022
How the WRC captures its stunning visuals Prime

How the WRC captures its stunning visuals

Whether it’s the mountains of Monte Carlo, the snow of Sweden or the Kenya Savannah, the World Rally Championship is able to beam some of motorsport’s most spectacular footage to television screens while operating in the harshest of environments. Motorsport.com went behind the scenes to unearth the secrets that make this logistical challenge possible

WRC
Jul 7, 2022