Rally de España: Day 1
Toyota Yaris WRC trio applying the pressure ahead of surface switch
The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team is in contention for the top places on Rally de España at the end of a demanding opening day over gravel. Kris Meeke is fourth, Ott Tänak is fifth and Jari-Matti Latvala is sixth with two days on asphalt still to come in the season’s only true mixed-surface event.
Running first on the road as championship leader, Tänak had a consistent and strong start to the rally to end the morning loop of stages in third overall. His road position put him at more of a disadvantage in the afternoon, with the mostly gravel roads now increasingly dried out after heavy rainfall in the Catalunya region earlier in the week.
Meeke also started the day well, and although he fell back to sixth at the start of the afternoon, he fought back to fourth with the second-best time on the second pass of La Fatarella-Vilalba, the longest stage of the rally at 38.85 kilometres. He is only 13 seconds from the leader and 5.4s from third place. Tänak is 8.7s further away and still with a strong possibility of securing his maiden drivers’ title on Sunday. Eighth after the morning loop, Latvala enjoyed a very strong afternoon to sit sixth overnight, 8.4s behind Tänak.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“I think that we are in a fairly good position tonight. Of course, we would like to be even higher up, but the conditions were a bit of an unknown this morning and this made it difficult. We could change things in service and Kris and Jari-Matti were both a lot more confident in the afternoon. Ott didn’t have the best starting position, especially this afternoon, so I think he did a great job today and he isn’t so far from the front. We are confident in how our car performs on asphalt and the conditions should be a lot more consistent than today, so I’m excited to see what can happen tomorrow.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“It was a really tough and demanding day today. When you’re opening the road during the first loop, it’s constantly slippery, but in a way it’s still manageable. The conditions are always more difficult in the second loop and it can be really frustrating. I pushed as hard as I could and I couldn’t do any more, so we need to be happy with that. Tomorrow is very much a new day and a very different day, and hopefully it can be a stronger day for us.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“This day on gravel was not as simple as last year. After the rain earlier in the week, the grip level was much lower, and it was more difficult this morning. Then in the afternoon, the grip was pretty consistent, but there were many ruts. I wasn’t confident enough this morning, but we made some changes with the suspension in service, and I fought back in the afternoon. I feel a lot more relaxed and confident now and I’m looking forward to the next two days on asphalt.”
Kris Meeke (Driver car 5)
“This morning I struggled a bit with the setup and so I wasn’t comfortable over the bumps, especially in the long stage, SS3. But everything came together in the afternoon. The car felt a lot different and I could trust it a lot more. I said beforehand that I needed to be within 10 seconds of the lead tonight and the gap is currently 13, so it’s not bad, we’re still there. My pace has been strong on asphalt this year and I know the Yaris WRC works really well, so I’m confident and looking forward to the rest of the rally.”
End of day one (Friday):
1 Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 1h21m24.7s
2 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1.7s
3 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +7.6s
4 Kris Meeke/Seb Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +13.0s
5 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +21.7s
6 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +30.1s
7 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +44.0s
8 Teemu Suninen/Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +51.8s
9 Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m50.3s
10 Mads Østberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +2m59.8s
(Results as of 18:30 on Friday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
The Toyota Yaris WRCs are converted into asphalt specification during an extended 75-minute service this evening. Tomorrow, the crews will tackle a loop of three stages to the north east, repeating them after mid-day service. A short stage on the Salou seafront rounds out the day.
Key stage: El Montmell (SS9 & SS12, 24.40 kilometres)
Miikka Anttila (Co-driver car 10): “The second and third stages of the loop have a very similar character, as they’re both pretty fast and not so much like the mountain roads. The latter one does become a bit slower and more narrow towards the end. When they’re dry and clean, which I think they will be, they’re pretty good fun.”
Press kit and Event pictures will be uploaded here
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