WRC Spain: Neuville closes on win, Tanak nears title

Thierry Neuville is on the brink of his third World Rally Championship victory of the year on Rally of Spain as Hyundai team-mate Dani Sordo resisted Ott Tanak's advances

WRC Spain: Neuville closes on win, Tanak nears title

But third place for Tanak would be enough for him to claim his first WRC title, provided he either beats or is just one place behind Neuville on the powerstage later on Sunday afternoon.

Despite holding a secure 21.5-second lead, Neuville came out the blocks with a fastest stage time on Riudecanyes, stretching his lead by a further 0.7s over Sordo in second. Sordo was 0.4s quicker than Tanak through the test as his gap over the Toyota grew to 3.5s.

On the La Mussara powerstage dress rehearsal Tanak was strong but Sordo was even stronger. He eked another second clear to hold Tanak to a 4.5s deficit.

Neuville's lead stands at 17.5s with two stages remaining as he opted to back off with brake fade.

Loeb remains fourth for Hyundai but has lost touch with the podium places. He lost 7.5s to Tanak on Riudecanyes as he struggled to find confidence in the i2 Coupe WRC.

He then lost a further 11.6s on La Mussara to lie 19.7s adrift overall, and is in danger of falling into the clutches of Toyota's Jari-Matti Latvala who is now just 10.1s behind.

Elfyn Evans broke further clear of his M-Sport team-mate Teemu Suninen across Sunday morning's two stages and nicked some time from Latvala ahead too.

But Latvala's buffer is still secure as the Toyota driver "took it a bit easier" on Sunday morning to protect his fifth place by 21.3s.

Suninen was consistently around three seconds slower than Sebastien Ogier across Saturday's stages, and the trend continued on Sunday morning with Suninen exactly three seconds off Ogier's pace on Riudecanyes.

But a strong time on La Mussara spurred by "hating being Seb plus three seconds" bucked the trend as he went five seconds quicker.

Ogier remains in eighth overall, one place behind Suninen, on a day where his six-year reign as world champion looks set to come to an end. But due to his hydraulic issues on Friday, the gap between the pair stands at 2m47.4s.

The leading WRC2 runners occupy ninth and 10th places. Mads Ostberg heads the WRC2 Pro category in ninth but had been under pressure from recently crowned champion Kalle Rovanpera.

Rovanpera took over 30s from Ostberg on five of Saturday's six stages only to lose 40s and position to team-mate Jan Kopecky on the short Salou stage with broken suspension. Eric Camilli heads the WRC2 class and is 10th in a Citroen C3 R5.

Kris Meeke restarted on Sunday following his crash into an armco barrier on Saturday morning.

Esapekka Lappi, whose Citroen ground to a halt on Friday's final test, missed a second day of action with an engine related issue denying him the opportunity to compete.

Pos Class Driver Team Car Time Gap Laps
1 RC1 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 2h35m29.3s - 0
2 RC1 Dani Sordo, C.del Barrio Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 2h35m51.5s 22.2s 0
3 RC1 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 2h35m55.0s 25.7s 0
4 RC1 Sebastien Loeb, D.Elena Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 2h36m03.1s 33.8s 0
5 RC1 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 2h36m21.8s 52.5s 0
6 RC1 Elfyn Evans, S.Martin M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 2h36m40.2s 1m10.9s 0
7 RC1 Teemu Suninen, J.Lehtinen M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 2h36m59.9s 1m30.6s 0
8 RC1 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia Citroen Total WRT Citroen 2h39m42.3s 4m13.0s 0
9 WRC2 Pro Mads Ostberg, T.Eriksen Citroen Total WRT Citroen 2h42m30.3s 7m01.0s 0
10 WRC2 Eric Camilli, F-X.Buresi Eric Camili Citroen 2h42m33.3s 7m04.0s 0
11 WRC2 Pro Jan Kopecky, J.Hlousek Skoda Motorsport Skoda 2h43m11.3s 7m42.0s 0
12 WRC2 Pro Kalle Rovanpera, J.Halttunen Skoda Motorsport Skoda 2h43m25.4s 7m56.1s 0
13 WRC2 Pierre-Louis Loubet, V.Landais Pierre-Louis Loubet Skoda 2h43m41.6s 8m12.3s 0
14 WRC2 Kajetan Kajetanowicz, M.Szczepaniak Kajetan Kajetanowicz Volkswagen 2h43m57.3s 8m28.0s 0
15 WRC2 Emil Lindholm, M.Korhonen Emil Lindholm Volkswagen 2h44m04.3s 8m35.0s 0
16 WRC2 Pro Gus Greensmith, E.Edmondson M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 2h45m24.6s 9m55.3s 0
17 WRC2 Ole-Christian Veiby, J.Andersson Ole Christian Veiby Volkswagen 2h45m40.4s 10m11.1s 0
18 WRC2 Jose Antonio Suarez, A.Iglesias Jose Antonio Suarez Skoda 2h45m53.6s 10m24.3s 0
19 WRC2 Fabio Andolfi, S.Scattolin Fabio Andolfi Skoda 2h45m59.0s 10m29.7s 0
20 WRC2 Jan Solans, M.Barreiro Jan Solans Ford 2h48m14.6s 12m45.3s 0
21 WRC2 Guillaume de Mevius, M.Wydaeghe Guillaume de Mevius Citroen 2h48m19.6s 12m50.3s 0
22 WRC2 Nil Solans, M.Marti Nil Solans Volkswagen 2h50m36.6s 15m07.3s 0
23 WRC2 Nikolay Gryazin, Y.Fedorov Nikolay Gryazin Skoda 2h54m05.0s 18m35.7s 0
24 RC2 Jean-Michel Raoux, L.Magat Jean Michel Raoux Skoda 2h55m50.3s 20m21.0s 0
25 WRC2 'Pedro', E.Baldaccini Pedro Ford 3h01m06.4s 25m37.1s 0
26 RC4 Sergi Francoli Comellas, M.S.El Hage RACC Motorsport Peugeot 3h05m38.4s 30m09.1s 0
27 RC4 Ruairi Bell, D.Garrod Ruairi Bell Peugeot 3h07m25.8s 31m56.5s 0
28 RC4 Jose Luis Pelaez, R.Del Barrio Tineo Auto Club Peugeot 3h07m32.4s 32m03.1s 0
29 RC4 Delbin Garcia, C.Carrera RACE Peugeot 3h11m09.2s 35m39.9s 0
30 RC2 Eamonn Boland, M.J.Morrissey Eamonn Boland Ford 3h11m31.8s 36m02.5s 0
31 RC2 Francisco Antonio Lopez, B.Odriozola RMC Motorsport Ford 3h12m59.4s 37m30.1s 0
32 RC4 Fabrizio Zaldivar, F.Mussano Fabrizio Zaldivar Ford 3h15m43.2s 40m13.9s 0
33 RC1 Kris Meeke, S.Marshall Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 3h17m37.9s 42m08.6s 0
34 RC4 Georg Linnamae, V.Korsya ALM Motorsport Peugeot 3h17m50.1s 42m20.8s 0
35 WRC2 Adrien Fourmaux, R.Jamoul Adrien Fourmaux Ford 3h18m14.3s 42m45.0s 0
36 RC4 Miquel Labarias, J.S.Prades Escuderia Motor Terrassa Peugeot 3h18m15.6s 42m46.3s 0
37 RC4 Jean-Christophe Guibert, L.Gracial Jean Christophe Guibert Ford 3h20m26.0s 44m56.7s 0
38 RC4 Carlo Covi, S.Angi Carlo Covi Ford 3h20m55.0s 45m25.7s 0
39 RC4 Paulo Moreira, M.Macedo Paulo Moreira Peugeot 3h21m38.1s 46m08.8s 0
40 RC4 Nabila Tejpar, H.Magalhaes Nabila Tejpar Peugeot 3h25m59.6s 50m30.3s 0
41 RC1 Takamoto Katsuta, D.Barritt Tommi Makinen Racing Toyota 3h30m45.8s 55m16.5s 0
42 RC2 Mauro Miele, L.Beltrame Mauro Miele Skoda 3h34m31.1s 59m01.8s 0
43 RC5 Roberto Antonucci, H.Antonucci Roberto Antonucci Renault 3h47m27.7s 1h11m58.4s 0
44 RC2 Fabrizio Arengi Bentivoglio, M.Bosi Fabrizio Arengi Skoda 3h56m18.4s 1h20m49.1s 0

WRC Spain: Hyundai's Neuville extends lead as Tanak closes on title
Previous article

WRC Spain: Hyundai's Neuville extends lead as Tanak closes on title

Next article

WRC Spain: Toyota's Tanak takes '19 title, Neuville wins for Hyundai

WRC Spain: Toyota's Tanak takes '19 title, Neuville wins for Hyundai
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

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

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

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?

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

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?

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

Jan 1, 2023
Autosport writers' most memorable moments of 2022 Plus

Autosport writers' most memorable moments of 2022

The season just gone was a memorable one for many of our staff writers, who are fortunate enough to cover motorsport around the world. Here are our picks of the best (and in some cases, most eventful) from 2022

Formula 1
Dec 31, 2022