WRC Rally Spain: Loeb takes dramatic win as Ogier grabs points lead

Sebastien Loeb claimed an incredible first World Rally Championship win since 2013 on an unpredictable Rally Spain, as Sebastien Ogier moved into the lead of the title race

WRC Rally Spain: Loeb takes dramatic win as Ogier grabs points lead

The nine-time WRC champion carried a 7.1-second advantage over Ogier into the final two stages, but suffered issues on both that took the result down to the wire.

On SS17, while donutting at a roundabout, he used too much throttle and the rear of his Citroen C3 spun around. He lost close to eight seconds after coming to a stop.

M-Sport's Ogier, by contrast, was fastest through the stage by 3.5s over team-mate Elfyn Evans.

Loeb, making his last planned appearance for Citroen of the season, was only 3.6s ahead heading into the powerstage. But his run was plagued with persistent understeer through right-hand corners.

Again, Ogier enjoyed a smooth run but Loeb held on to win the event by 2.9s - his ninth Rally Spain triumph, six years after his last.

It also meant that Citroen scored back-to-back wins on the event, following on from Kris Meeke's victory last season.

Pre-event points leader Thierry Neuville enjoyed a pace resurgence during the final day, but in the closing section of the last stage he suffered a rear-right broken wheel when he clipped a rock that had been thrown out of a cut.

"I tried to avoid it but there was no chance," said the Hyundai driver.

That combined with Ogier's team-mate Evans setting the powerstage's fourth fastest time, meant Evans moved up to third overall, ahead of Neuville.

Ahead of the Australia season finale, Ogier now leads Neuville by three points on 204.

A further 20 points behind is Toyota's Ott Tanak who had looked odds on for the rally win until a Saturday puncture cost him his half-minute lead.

But he set the fastest time on the powerstage to score five points and his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala deliberately slowed, boosting Tanak to sixth overall - behind Dani Sordo on his home event - and keeping the Estonian's slender title hopes alive.

Toyota endured a disappointing Rally Spain, considering both Latvala and Tanak had topped the order.

Third driver Esapekka Lappi struggled for pace all weekend, and his stablemates's issues meant the Yaris trio ended up sixth, seventh and eighth.

Craig Breen had shown flashes of pace, but struggled to find a rhythm in his C3 and wound up ninth ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen and Teemu Suninen.

Gymkhana star and former World Rallycross driver Ken Block rolled his Ford Fiesta WRC out of the rally on the gravel of SS7.

In WRC2, Kalle Rovanpera beat class champion Jan Kopecky to score his second win in a row.

Third in class meant 2003 WRC champion Petter Solberg was the best of the Volkswagen Polo GTI R5s as the car made its competitive debut. Eric Camilli had been the clear VW and WRC2 leader until Saturday gearshift issues.

Final result

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Sebastien Loeb, D.Elena Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 3h12m08.0s
2 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 2.9s
3 Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 16.5s
4 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 17.0s
5 Dani Sordo, C.del Barrio Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 18.6s
6 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 1m03.9s
7 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 1m16.6s
8 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 1m26.4s
9 Craig Breen, S.Martin Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 2m07.0s
10 Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 2m48.2s

Powerstage results

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 8m02.5s
2 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 2.1s
3 Sebastien Loeb, D.Elena Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 2.8s
4 Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 3.2s
5 Dani Sordo, C.del Barrio Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 4.7s

Drivers' standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Sebastien Ogier 204
2 Thierry Neuville 201
3 Ott Tanak 181
4 Esapekka Lappi 110
5 Jari-Matti Latvala 102
6 Andreas Mikkelsen 84
7 Dani Sordo 71
8 Elfyn Evans 70
9 Craig Breen 61
10 Hayden Paddon 55
11 Teemu Suninen 54
12 Mads Ostberg 52
13 Sebastien Loeb 43
14 Kris Meeke 43
15 Jan Kopecky 17
16 Pontus Tidemand 12
17 Henning Solberg 8
18 Simone Tempestini 4
19 Bryan Bouffier 4
19 Marijan Griebel 4
21 Kalle Rovanpera 3
22 Gus Greensmith 2
23 Lukasz Pieniazek 2
24 Chris Ingram 2
25 Pedro Heller 1
26 Stephane Lefebvre 1
27 Yoann Bonato 1


shares
comments
WRC Rally Spain: Returning Loeb takes shock lead for Citroen
Previous article

WRC Rally Spain: Returning Loeb takes shock lead for Citroen

Next article

WRC 2019: Sordo's part-time Hyundai deal to be announced this week

WRC 2019: Sordo's part-time Hyundai deal to be announced this week
Why Monte Carlo success could spark another past master’s WRC revival Plus

Why Monte Carlo success could spark another past master’s WRC revival

Some 39 years on from his Monte Carlo Rally debut, World Rally Championship legend Francois Delecour continues to pick up silverware. Proving that age is purely a number, the 60-year-old's desire to compete against the WRC’s latest young talents could be the start of a new chapter in the Frenchman’s storied career

WRC
Jan 31, 2023
How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master Plus

How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master

He may only be contesting a part-time campaign in the World Rally Championship these days, but Sebastien Ogier underlined that he's lost none of his speed in the 2023 season opener. Storming to yet another victory on the Monte Carlo Rally, the eight-time world champion rewrote the history books again as Toyota served notice of its intentions with a crushing 1-2

WRC
Jan 23, 2023
How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling Plus

How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling

Audi should have been invincible in the snowy conditions that typically greeted the World Rally Championship paddock in Monte Carlo. But unexpectedly warm weather for the 1983 season opener, combined with some left-field thinking from the Lancia crew turned the tables. Forty years on, team boss Cesare Fiorio reflects on a smash and grab

WRC
Jan 21, 2023
Why M-Sport has pinned all its efforts on a WRC reunion Plus

Why M-Sport has pinned all its efforts on a WRC reunion

M-Sport had a disastrous 2022 with its Rally1 Ford Pumas following Sebastien Loeb’s first-time-out win on the Monte. But now things are looking up with 2019 world champion Ott Tanak leading its attack, and the Cumbrian operation has optimism that it can challenge for a first title since Sebastien Ogier's departure at the end of 2018

WRC
Jan 19, 2023
The contenders seeking to take Rovanpera's WRC crown Plus

The contenders seeking to take Rovanpera's WRC crown

As Kalle Rovanpera begins his World Rally Championship title defence in Monte Carlo, the Finn knows he has a target on his back. But who is best placed to knock the Toyota ace off his perch?

WRC
Jan 19, 2023
Why Rovanpera is anticipating a fight to defend his WRC title Plus

Why Rovanpera is anticipating a fight to defend his WRC title

Question: what could be harder than becoming the youngest-ever World Rally champion? Answer: becoming the youngest-ever two-time World Rally champion. That's quite the challenge facing Toyota's Kalle Rovanpera in 2022, particularly against rejuvenated opposition in the second year of the WRC's hybrid regulations

WRC
Jan 18, 2023
From F1 to WRC: Why Hyundai's new boss could be an inspired signing Plus

From F1 to WRC: Why Hyundai's new boss could be an inspired signing

OPINION: New Hyundai WRC team boss Cyril Abiteboul admits he’s got a lot to learn as he leads the marque's efforts to dethrone Toyota. But could his Formula 1 experience and evident strengths mean he turns out to be an inspired choice?

WRC
Jan 18, 2023
The ultimate rally car project the WRC is glad COVID killed Plus

The ultimate rally car project the WRC is glad COVID killed

Toyota was unstoppable in the 2021 World Rally Championship, with an excellent 75% strike rate from 12 rallies. But in a scary proposition for its rivals, the Japanese marque had built a car for the final year of the previous regulations set which it believes was much faster and could feasibly have crushed the opposition completely. Here the story of its mothballed world-beater

WRC
Jan 1, 2023