WRC Rally Spain: Ogier beats rival Neuville on opening superspecial

M-Sport's Sebastien Ogier started the World Rally Championship's penultimate round in Spain by winning Thursday evening's opening stage to lead the rally overnight from Hyundai title rival Thierry Neuville

WRC Rally Spain: Ogier beats rival Neuville on opening superspecial

Ogier - who trails Neuville by seven points in the standings - completed the tight and twisty two-mile asphalt test in 3m35.3s, besting Neuville's time by a brilliant 3.7 seconds.

"It won't be easy for the rest of the weekend," said Ogier.

"We had a good strategy on the tyres but tomorrow we have a little less tyres than everyone else."

Neuville rolled on the pre-event shakedown, and thanked his mechanics at the end of SS1 for repairing his i20 Coupe WRC ready for the start.

He will open the order on Friday, running 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 Toyota driver ending the stage just 0.5s behind Neuville. Hyundai's Andreas Mikkelsen said he felt "positive" as he took fourth, ahead of Ogier's Ford Fiesta team-mate Elfyn Evans.

Despite running well down the order and in the dark, while most of his WRC2 rivals had driven in the light, Eric Camilli was a stunning sixth on the first stage Volkswagen's new Polo R5 car has completed in competition. The ex-M-Sport driver has carried out much of the testing on the new car, and comfortably topped his class.

Dani Sordo returns for his home event after a lengthy absence in the Hyundai he is sharing this season with Hayden Paddon and took seventh, ahead of WRC2's second-place man Kalle Rovanpera.

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

Camilli's team-mate Petter Solberg was 15th in the second Volkswagen Polo R5 on his first WRC outing since 2012.

The 2003 WRC champion was by far the best of the returning stars on this event.

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

Block completed two more doughnuts than were required on his run as he showboated for the spectators.

Leading positions

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 3m35.3s
2 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 3.7s
3 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 4.2s
4 Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 5.6s
5 Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 6.0s
6 Eric Camilli, B.Veillas Volkswagen Motorsport Volkswagen 7.4s
7 Dani Sordo, C.del Barrio Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 7.5s
8 Kalle Rovanpera, J.Halttunen Skoda Motorsport Skoda 8.6s
9 Craig Breen, S.Martin Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 8.7s
10 Jan Kopecky, P.Dresler Skoda Motorsport Skoda 9.0s


shares
comments
WRC Rally Spain: Points leader Neuville rolls Hyundai on shakedown

Previous article

WRC Rally Spain: Points leader Neuville rolls Hyundai on shakedown

Next article

WRC Rally Spain: Tanak trumps title rivals to lead on Friday morning

WRC Rally Spain: Tanak trumps title rivals to lead on Friday morning
Load comments

About this article

Series WRC
Drivers Sébastien Ogier , Thierry Neuville
Author Jack Benyon
Why the casualty of rallying's evolution should still be cherished Plus

Why the casualty of rallying's evolution should still be cherished

The WRC's support categories are in a process of streamlining that will spell the end of a formalised 2WD world championship-level category. While its relevance to the top level has been questioned for some time, that doesn't mean it should be swept quietly under the carpet

WRC
Apr 5, 2021
Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads Plus

Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads

With all three major manufacturers committing to the World Rally Championship’s hybrid era from 2022, the future of the series is assured for now, but it could lead to trickier twists and turns further down the road

WRC
Apr 1, 2021
How Tanak froze out the competition at the Arctic Rally Plus

How Tanak froze out the competition at the Arctic Rally

Ott Tanak made up for a disastrous Monte Carlo Rally by leading all the way on the snow-kissed stages of the Arctic Rally Finland and in the process hit back at an event Toyota had been expected to dominate

WRC
Mar 1, 2021
What to expect from the WRC's venture to the Arctic Plus

What to expect from the WRC's venture to the Arctic

This week's Arctic Rally Finland will bring the World Rally Championship into new territory. And, almost without exception, the service park can't wait for the subzero challenge to commence

WRC
Feb 25, 2021
How Ogier achieved a fitting Monte Carlo farewell Plus

How Ogier achieved a fitting Monte Carlo farewell

Against pandemic-shaped odds, the World Rally Championship season opener went ahead in Monte Carlo last weekend as a familiar face again took top spot. But for an emotional Sebastien Ogier, his record-breaking eighth win meant more than most

WRC
Jan 25, 2021
What to look out for in the 2021 WRC Plus

What to look out for in the 2021 WRC

As the 2021 World Rally Championship prepares to launch amid tight COVID-19 restrictions in Monte Carlo, here are the eight things unrelated to the pandemic that you should keep an eye on this year

WRC
Jan 21, 2021
Evans on the talking points of WRC 2021 Plus

Evans on the talking points of WRC 2021

He came close to the title last year, and now Toyota's Elfyn Evans gives his verdict on what to expect from 2021 as the World Rally Championship prepares to reconvene for the Monte Carlo season opener

WRC
Jan 20, 2021
Why Britain's continued WRC absence is a wake-up call Plus

Why Britain's continued WRC absence is a wake-up call

OPINION: With Rally GB dropping off the World Rally Championship calendar for the second year in a row, one of Britain's best-attended sporting events faces an uncertain future. It's an unfortunate situation that points to troubling times ahead

WRC
Jan 12, 2021