Catalunya WRC: Ogier tops opener as Loeb, Block lose time

M-Sport’s Sebastien Ogier opened the World Rally Championship’s penultimate round, Rally Catalunya, by winning the first stage to lead the rally overnight from title rival Thierry Neuville of Hyundai.

Catalunya WRC: Ogier tops opener as Loeb, Block lose time

Ogier – who trails Neuville by seven points in the standings – rounded the tight and twisty 3.2km asphalt test in 3m35.3s, besting the Belgian by a brilliant 3.7s.

"It won't be easy for the rest of the weekend,” said Ogier. “We had a good strategy on the tyres but now tomorrow we have a little less tyres than everyone else."

Neuville had rolled in the pre-event shakedown, and thanked his mechanics at the end of SS1 for repairing his I20 Coupe WRC in time for the start.

Crucially, he will open the running tomorrow and run first on the road in the rally's gravel phase, clearing a path for those behind.

Ott Tanak made sure all three title rivals were at the head of the order, the Estonian just 0.5s behind Neuville. Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen took fourth ahead of Ogier’s Fiesta teammate Elfyn Evans.

Despite running well down the order and in the dark, when most of his WRC2 rivals had driven in the light, Eric Camilli gave the Volkswagen Polo R5 a stunning competitive debut in sixth. The ex-M-Sport driver has carried out much of the testing on the new car and comfortably topped his class.

Dani Sordo, returning for his home event after a lengthy absence in the car he shares with Hayden Paddon took seventh, ahead of WRC2 runner-up Kalle Rovanpera.

Behind the 18-year-old Skoda Fabia driver, Craig Breen had the honour of being the top Citroen in ninth, as WRC2 champion elect Jan Kopecky rounded out the top 10 ahead of Toyota teammates Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi.

Camilli's teammate Petter Solberg took 15th in the second Volkswagen Polo R5 in competition on his first WRC outing since 2012.

Nine-time champion Sebastien Loeb – appearing in his third event of the year in a Citroen C3 – was 15.9s slower than Ogier and well behind a group of R5 cars in 27th, as was Gymkhana star Ken Block, 26.5s down on Ogier in 32nd.

Block did two extra donuts on his stage than was required as he showboated for the spectators.

shares
comments
Neuville suffers roll during Rally Spain shakedown
Previous article

Neuville suffers roll during Rally Spain shakedown

Next article

Catalunya WRC: Title hopeful Tanak hits back to lead Ogier

Catalunya WRC: Title hopeful Tanak hits back to lead Ogier
Load comments
How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers Prime

How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers

After winning his eighth WRC title, Sebastien Ogier has drawn the curtain on his full-time rallying career. To understand Ogier's legacy, many of his former rivals, team-mates and colleagues have shared their thoughts on a vastly successful career

WRC
Nov 26, 2021
Ranking lost WRC legend Richard Burns' 10 best rallies Prime

Ranking lost WRC legend Richard Burns' 10 best rallies

Richard Burns was a determined driver who took on the best rally drivers in the world during a boom period in the early 2000s, and beat them. On the 20th anniversary of his crowning glory in winning the 2001 WRC title, and 16 years on from his death on the same date, we pick out his 10 greatest drives

WRC
Nov 25, 2021
The internal focus that made Burns a legendary world rally champion Prime

The internal focus that made Burns a legendary world rally champion

At the turn of the millennium, WRC was full to the brim with rallying's great and good - and 20 years ago on this day, Richard Burns became England's first world rally champion. Although Burns' natural talent drove him to the top, his steely determination and mental strength was the key attribute behind his title-winning form

WRC
Nov 25, 2021
How Ogier emerged from Loeb's shadow to form his own WRC legend Prime

How Ogier emerged from Loeb's shadow to form his own WRC legend

OPINION: Adding an eighth WRC title to his name, Sebastien Ogier has bowed out from full-time rallying in style. Having been compared throughout his career with nine-time champion Sebastien Loeb, Ogier has convincingly demonstrated that he can stand on his own as one of the greatest rally drivers in history

WRC
Nov 22, 2021
How confronting self-doubt drove Ogier to become a WRC legend Prime

How confronting self-doubt drove Ogier to become a WRC legend

This weekend's Rally Monza marks the end of an era in the World Rally Championship, as Sebastien Ogier prepares to bring down the curtain on his full-time career with an eighth title. For all his enduring success, the Toyota driver reveals in an exclusive interview that lingering insecurities have compelled his quest for perfection

WRC
Nov 18, 2021
The third generation McRae on his way to the WRC Prime

The third generation McRae on his way to the WRC

The McRae family name is steeped in rallying history, with eight British titles between Jimmy, Colin and Alister - plus the small matter of the 1995 WRC title too. Next on the conveyor of talent is Alister's 17-year-old Max McRae, who’s setting out in Australia to conquer the world of rallying and return the famous name to the WRC...

WRC
Nov 12, 2021
Inside Hyundai’s radical approach to prepare for the WRC hybrid era Prime

Inside Hyundai’s radical approach to prepare for the WRC hybrid era

As the World Rally Championship undergoes its biggest shift in regulations for a generation, teams are taking radical measures to prepare for its new era. Hyundai's unique approach involved conducting a private 1500km rally in Italy and Motorsport.com went to see how the team is preparing for 2022

WRC
Nov 4, 2021
How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain Prime

How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain

While all pre-event chat focused on the two World Rally Championship title fighters, their closest challenger charged into the spotlight on Rally Spain. Thierry Neuville's star turn and another strong drive from Elfyn Evans in his fight with Sebastien Ogier made for an intriguing event as the 2021 campaign nears its crunch point

WRC
Oct 18, 2021