Neuville takes lead, Tanak closes on WRC title at Rally RACC


PortAventura World (Tarragona), 26-10-2019.- The tarmac section of the 55 RallyRACC Catalunya-COSTA DAURADA, Rally de España 2019, started this morning with an itinerary that included three different stages that had to be run twice: Savallà (14.08 km), Querol (21.26 km) and El Montmell (24.40 km), a day that saw Thierry Neuville /Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) take the first place ahead of Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio with another Hyundai and Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC), who was able to take the third position in the last stage of the day.

The Belgian duo achieved the fastest time in the first two stages and took the lead of the race, as they had yesterday. A good time for Kris Meeke/Sebastian Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) in Savallà allowed them to take the third place for a while, but they had an off in Querol that forced them to retire. A mechanical issue also delayed Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt with their Toyota, although they were able to salve it afterwards with the help of his team’s mechanics.

At El Montmell, Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja took their first scratch in this edition of the RallyRACC, although that did not allow them to push the Hyundais out of the first three places, with Neuville leading the race at the end of this first tarmac look, despite some issues with the brakes in the last stage, followed by Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio.

In the afternoon, the second pass through the stages saw a complete dominance by the leader of the drivers’ provisional standings, as they won the three stages and kept getting closer to the podium positions, although their main aim was keeping an eye on the provisional leader of the rally, Thierry Neuville, as the Estonian of the Toyota Team could leave Salou as the new World Champion, a feat he would achieve for the first time.

With the first places stabilized after this first day on tarmac, the only change in the afternoon loop arrived with the second pass through El Montmell, where Sébastien Loeb lost his place to Dani Sordo. Behind Tänak/Järveoja, in fifth place were Jari-Matti Latvala/Mikka Anttila, a little irregular during the whole day, as they set some notable times while others were not so good. Meanwhile, the Ford Fiestas WRC driven by Elfyn Evans/Martin Scott and Teemu Suninen/Jarmo Lehtinen are behind, although with no chance to get on the podium.

The day finished with the short urban stage of Salou, that was won by the provisional leader, Thierry Neuville, but in which Ott Tänak was able to pass Sébastien Loeb to end the day in third place behind the Hyundais and only 3’’1 behind Dani Sordo.

In the smaller categories of the World rally championship, Mads Ostberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) keep leading the WRC2 Pro, while the WRC2 had a change in the lead, with Eric Camilli/Benjamin Veillas (Citroën C3 R5) now in first position. The Spanish duo of Nil Solans/Marc Martí (VW Polo GTI R5), after a double puncture yesterday that made them lose more than 8 minutes, showed their speed again by winning 5 of the 7 stages, among them, the Salou urban stage.

Tomorrow, the third and last day of the event will also take place on tarmac with two passes through the stages of Riudecanyes (16.35 km) and La Mussara (20,72 km), with the second pass through this last stage acting as Power Stage, which will give additional points to the first five that will be added to the points obtained in the final overall standings. The day will feature 74.14 timed km of a total of 236.61.

Provisional classification of the 55 RallyRACC after the 2nd day

1-Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC), 2h.25’15”8
2-Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC), +21”5
3-Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC), +24”6
4-Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC), +25”2
5-Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC), +46”8
6-Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC), +1’09”2
7-Teemu Suninen/Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC), +1’24”5
8-Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC9, +4’09”9
9-Mads Ostberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5, WRC2 Pro), +6’35”2
10-Eric Camilli/Benjamin Veillas (Citroën C3 R5, WRC2), +6’38’’2



Photos, Sam Tickell, words PR