The World Rally Championship (WRC) season continues in Spain at Rally Catalunya. Only the test stage was finished on Thursday with Toyota driver Sebastien Ogier establishing the fastest time at 2.33,6. Estonia's Ott Tänak (Hyundai) was fifth, and finished less than a full second behind Ogier (2.34,4).
The penultimate event of the season started off with a test stage on Thursday, but will continue throughout the weekend. The race will cover a total of 17 stages and more than 280 km.
The Catalunya rally can confirm a season win for and seven-time world champ Sebastien Ogier (Toyota), who holds a 24-point lead going in the drivers' rankings going into the event. He is followed by teammate Elfyn Evans and if Ogier is faster than Evans this weekend, he will inch closer to nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb in the record books.
Estonian rally driver Ott Tänak can still theoretically achieve second place, but the competition for third place is very tight. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) is currently third in the rankings at 130 points, followed by Toyota man Kalle Rovanperä at 129 points and Tänak at 128 points.
Tänak has won 14 events in the WRC series in his career, but has never achieved a victory in Catalunya. He reached the podium as a driver for M-Sport Ford in 2017 when he came in third. He finished second two years ago in his world championship campaign. Will his streak of improvement continue?
The Estonian said Catalunya is one of his favorite events. "It has been a while since we've had three days of tarmac competition at Rally de Espana. It is a very fast event and one that I really enjoy. The roads require pure, clean driving," Tänak said via press release.
"The routes in the forest are quite smooth with not many cuts and the weather is consistent there, which makes it an enjoyable event for me. After two consecutive podium finishes, it would be nice to secure a hat-trick in Spain as we aim for a strong finish to the season," the Estonian added.
In addition to Tänak, two more Estonians will take part in the event: Georg Linnamäe - James Morgan (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5) in the WRC2 category and Robert Virves - Aleks Lesk (Ford Fiesta Rally4) in the JWRC category.
#WRC Shakedown times @RallyRACC— hmsgofficial (@HMSGOfficial) October 14, 2021
2. Evans +0.2
3. #Neuville +0.4
4. #Sordo +0.6
5. #Tanak +0.8
6. Rovanpera +1.2
7. Fourmaux +1.3
8. Greensmith +1.4
9. Katsuta +1.5
10. #Solans +2.5
11. #Solberg +2.7#HMSGOfficial #RallyRACC pic.twitter.com/paeeir86vf
Catalunya rally Itinerary, with distances, start time (Estonian time) and completed stages and their winners in italics:
Thursday, October 14:
Test Coll de la Teixeta 4.31 km 10.01 OGIER
Friday, October 15:
SS1 Vilaplana 1 20.00 km 9.43
SS2 La Granadella 1 21,80 km 11.21
SS3 Riba-roja 1 17.54 km 13.24
SS4 Vilaplana 2 20.00 km 16.00
SS5 La Granadella 2 21.80 km 17.38
SS6 Riba-roja 2 14.21 km 18.59
Saturday, October 16:
SS7 Savalla 1 14.08 km 9.44
SS8 Querol - Les Pobles 1 19.17 km 10.37
SS9 El Montmell 1 24.40 km 11.38
SS10 Savalla 2 14.08 km 15.14
SS11 Querol - Les Pobles 2 19.17 km 16.07
SS12 El Montmell 2 24.40 km 17.08
SS13 Salou 2.15 km 19.00
Sunday, October 17:
SS14 Santa Marina 1 9.10 km 8.00
SS15 Riudecanyes 1 16.35 km 9.08
SS16 Santa Marina 2 9.10 km 11.29
SS17 Riudecanyes 2 (PS) 16.35 km 13.18
WRC drivers standings after Rally Finland
1. Sebastien Ogier (Toyota) 190 points
2. Elfyn Evans (Toyota) 166
3. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) 130
4. Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota) 129
5. Ott Tänak 128 (Hyundai)
6. Craig Breen 76 (Hyundai)
7. Takamoto Katsuta (Toyota) 68
8. Gus Greensmith (M-Sport) 52
WRC manufacturers standings after Rally Finland
1. Toyota 441
2. Hyundai 380
3. M-Sport 172
4. Hyundai 2C 44
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste