Tänak in test runs ahead of Rally Catalunya ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja in action in the Toyota Yaris at the Rally Catalunya on Thursday.
Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja in action in the Toyota Yaris at the Rally Catalunya on Thursday. Source: AFP/Scanpix

Estonian rally driver Ott Tänak (Toyota) is in Spain for the penultimate round of the WRC Rally Championship, still topping the table over Sébastien Ogier (Citroën) of France. Thursday's test run has already taken place, with Tänak and teammate Martin Järveoja fourth-fastest.

Tänak is on 240 points, 38 ahead of Ogier, and 41 points ahead of Belgian Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), the only other driver with a mathematical chance of winning the 2019 title.

The RallyRACC Catalunya-Costa Daurada, to give it its full name, often alternatively called the  Rally de España, is the WRC calendar's only mixed surface race, with medium-speed gravel tracks on Friday's stages being followed by faster circuit-like asphalt on Saturday. This provides a lot of work for mechanics, switching the car set up following the Friday stages.

Cars are based at Salou, which hosts the start ceremony Thursday evening, just outside Tarragona and about 100 km down the coast from Barcelona.

An iconic, if recent, stage is the La Faterella-Vilalba stretch, the longest in the race at just under 40 km, which takes place on Friday, which switches between gravel and asphalt on undulating roads, making it notably challenging.

The race also marks the return of the La Mussara stage, after a five-year absence.

The test run on Thursday saw three of Tänak's teammates, Kris Meeke (Northern Ireland), Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) and Takamoto Katsuta (Japan) running ahead of the Estonian, who could nonetheless clinch the title this weekend, depending on what happens with Ogier and Neuville.

Citroën had been experimenting with a new aerodynamics setup earlier in the week, ahead of Rally Catalunya, but these will not be incorporated for the race, ERR's sports portal reports (link in Estonian). Tänak said that: ""The (Citroën) car's appearance is quite aggressive, but at times it felt like it was just copying our car."

Tänak, 32, from Saaremaa, tweeted Thursday morning that: "Two runs of RallyRACC shakedown [are] done. Some small adjustments to do and we are ready for the rally."

ERR's sports portal is liveblogging events here (link in Estonian).

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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