Catalunya WRC: Tanak drama gifts Sordo narrow lead

Rally Catalunya turned on its head during the Saturday morning stages, as a puncture for World Rally Championship title hopeful Ott Tanak gifted the lead to Hyundai’s Dani Sordo.

Catalunya WRC: Tanak drama gifts Sordo narrow lead

Heading into the final stage of the morning, Tanak held a comfortable 32.9-second lead over Sordo courtesy of a Toyota strategy gamble that was fortunate to pay off.

Both Tanak and teammate Jari-Matti Latvala gambled on full wet tyres, due to the conditions on the day’s opening SS8 as the rally returned to asphalt routes.

Due to badly placed spectators, however, the stage was cancelled and both appeared to be at a disadvantage until unexpected heavy rain hit SS9 and 10.

That allowed Tanak to boost his lead to more than half a minute, as he chases down Thierry Neuville and Sebastien Ogier in the race for the championship.

But on the first use of El Montmell, Tanak was forced to change the front-right tyre on his Yaris after picking up a puncture. He lost close to two minutes, and now resides down in ninth place.

Toyota team principal Tommi Makkinen said: "It is very, very strange. He was fastest in the UK [where he also retired from first place] and here but it’s a stupid puncture here that we cannot understand."

Although Latvala still had the pace advantage in the slippery conditions and was fastest through the final stage, Sordo did just enough to move into the lead at his home event by 0.3s over Latvala.

M-Sport’s Elfyn Evans, who had started the day in second, blamed a low running order for dropping to third as those ahead of him dragged dirt onto the road.

Despite complaints of a nervous car, Sebastien Loeb is now just 2.5s behind Evans as the nine-time WRC champion hunts a podium on his final planned appearance of the season for Citroen.

Compatriot Sebastien Ogier is fifth heading into the afternoon, 17.3s clear of points leader Neuville.

Ogier felt his Ford Fiesta WRC was too "snappy", putting it down to incorrect tyre choice. By comparison, Neuville was surprised to be so far off the pace despite, what he felt were, strong runs.

Esapekka Lappi began a fight back after his torrid start to the event, capitalising on a torrid brace of stages for Craig Breen. The Citroen driver had been fastest through SS9 until a spin rid him of his rear bumper and spoiler.

The loss of aero cost him 30s on the next stage, a leg he described as: "Absolutely disgusting, it was the most horrible stage I've ever driven in my life. The car just wanted to swap ends everywhere. I just want to enjoy it, but with the wing gone it is just undriveable."

In WRC2, Kalle Rovapera found a staggering 17.4s over Eric Camilli's Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 to move top of the class.

shares
comments
Catalunya WRC: Tanak stretches lead as Ogier, Neuville struggle
Previous article

Catalunya WRC: Tanak stretches lead as Ogier, Neuville struggle

Next article

Catalunya WRC: Latvala leads Ogier and Loeb into final day

Catalunya WRC: Latvala leads Ogier and Loeb into final day
Load comments
The WRC star that's earned the right to lead M-Sport's revival Prime

The WRC star that's earned the right to lead M-Sport's revival

Part-time opportunities with Citroen and Hyundai have offered brief glimpses of what Craig Breen can do in a World Rally Championship car. Now signed up by M-Sport to lead it into the WRC's new hybrid era, Breen has been given the chance he's pursued for so long and is determined to make the most of it

WRC
Jan 18, 2022
Why the WRC's 'modern Group B' era was rallying at its bonkers best Prime

Why the WRC's 'modern Group B' era was rallying at its bonkers best

The World Rally Championship has brought down the curtain on the aggressive, aero-laden generation of cars first introduced in 2017 that have been likened to the 1980s Group B icons. As the championship prepares to begin a new era of Rally1 hybrid cars, its stars explain just why the outgoing machines were so special

WRC
Dec 24, 2021
Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2021 Prime

Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2021

On the eve of a new hybrid era for the World Rally Championship, the 2021 season was a blockbuster fought out between Toyota's two top dogs, with a familiar figure eventually emerging on top after a final showdown at Monza. We pick out the 10 best performers from the top class and its supporting cast

WRC
Dec 21, 2021
Why Ogier's WRC swansong was a season to savour Prime

Why Ogier's WRC swansong was a season to savour

He’s shuffling into semi-rally-retirement, but Toyota star Sebastien Ogier was at the peak of his powers in the final season for the high downforce era-World Rally Championship cars. Despite Toyota's domination, there was still much to enjoy as the old master emerged atop a fierce title fight against teammate Elfyn Evans.

WRC
Dec 19, 2021
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