Rally de España: Day 1
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing makes a strong start in Spain
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team driver Elfyn Evans is just 0.7 seconds from the lead of the Rally de España at the end of a strong opening day for the team, with Sébastien Ogier making it two Toyota Yaris WRC drivers inside the top three.
Continuing his fine form after victory on the previous round in Finland, Evans made an excellent start to the asphalt event with the fastest time in all three of Friday morning’s stages. The afternoon loop provided a different challenge with more gravel being pulled out onto the road, and Evans had a wide moment on a particularly slippery corner in the beginning of SS5. He did well however to limit the time lost to his closest rival and end the day only narrowly behind overall.
Ogier, who led the drivers’ championship by 24 points over Evans coming into the penultimate round of the season, held third place throughout the day and finished it 19.4s away from the lead. He is 5.4s ahead of the driver in fourth, with a further 13.2s back to fifth-placed Kalle Rovanperä, who improved his pace during the day on his first appearance on this event in a World Rally Car.
TGR WRC Challenge Program driver Takamoto Katsuta had to stop following the first stage after damaging the front-left corner of his Yaris WRC, but the team was able to repair it and he will restart tomorrow.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“It’s been an exciting first day and as always here on these roads, the time differences are very small. That said, we saw Elfyn do such an incredible time on the first stage this morning, and it was great to see him bring the kind of speed that he also had in Finland. This afternoon we saw another very good stage time from the competition, and now it’s very close between the top two drivers tonight. For us a team it’s very positive to have Seb inside the top three as well, and Kalle has also been doing a good job without so much experience on these roads.”
Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 1)
“It’s been an OK day for us today. It was not as good as we wanted, as we came here wanting to fight for the victory and at the moment we didn’t have the rhythm for that. This morning was not a bad loop, but Elfyn had a really good start. This afternoon there were some really dirty sections, and I struggled a bit on those, not wanting to take full risk. Nineteen seconds is a bit too much of a gap tonight but we’ll keep working to improve and we’re still in a position to fight for big points, so let’s see what tomorrow brings.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“This morning was very good for us. The feeling in the car was good and we got into a pretty nice rhythm, but I was surprised to have such a strong time in the first stage. The afternoon loop was OK for the most part, it was just the middle stage where it was a bit more dirty that seemed to be a bit difficult for us. We had a big moment and hit the rear fairly hard on a kerb, but we got away with it. It’s very close now between the top two positions and it’s all to play for going into another tricky day tomorrow.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“Overall it was quite an OK day for us. The morning was quite tricky and we struggled a bit too much. But in service we made some changes to the car which actually helped quite a lot, and it was more enjoyable this afternoon. It was good learning and we gained a lot of experience today that we didn’t have before with this car. Tomorrow could also be quite tricky with stages that our rivals know quite well with World Rally Cars, but we will keep trying to improve.”
End of day one (Friday):
1 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 1h01m26.6s
2 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC) +0.7s
3 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC) +19.4s
4 Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +24.8s
5 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC) +38.0s
6 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m10.2s
7 Gus Greensmith/Chris Patterson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m28.9s
8 Oliver Solberg/Craig Drew (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m55.6s
9 Nil Solans/Marc Martí (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2m30.5s
10 Eric Camilli/Maxime Vilmot (Citroën C3 Rally2) +3m50.5s
(Results as of 18:50 on Friday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Saturday is the longest day of the rally with 117.45 competitive kilometres to be tackled across seven stages familiar from previous years. The Savallà, Querol–Les Pobles, and El Montmell tests to the north east of Salou will all be run twice either side of mid-day service, with a street stage on the Salou seafront to round out the day.
Press kit and Event pictures will be uploaded here
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