After one day on gravel and another on tarmac, Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson lie fourth overall at Rally de España in their DS3 WRC.Khalid Al Qassimi/Chris Patterson and Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle continued their progress as they looked to pick up more experience.After a 75-minute service period last night, all three of the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s DS3 WRCs set off on the Rally de España roads this morning in tarmac configuration.
Mads Østberg started in thirteenth position. Involved in a four-way fight with Jari-Matti Latvala, Andreas Mikkelsen and Mikko Hirvonen, he found his rhythm on the new surface to comfortably establish himself in fourth overall. He will head into the final leg, also on tarmac, around thirty seconds adrift of the final podium spot and with a 22.1-second lead over Dani Sordo in fifth.
Having rejoined under Rally 2 rules this morning, Kris Meeke took advantage of the tarmac stages to continue to rack up the miles in the DS3 WRC. He even came close to setting the fastest time on SS12.
Still working on getting the balance to his driving right and on finding the right set-up, Khalid Al Qassimi ended today’s leg in fifteenth position.
The end of day service wasn’t quite on the same scale as yesterday evening. Forty-five minutes was sufficient to service the cars in preparation for the final four tarmac stages of the season.
Parc ferme will open at 6.30am. The crews will complete two loops of two stages: La Mussara (20.48km) and Riudecanyes (15.55km), the latter also serving as the televised Power Stage on its second pass at 12.08pm. The rally is scheduled to finish in Salou at 1.16pm.
QUOTE, UNQUOTEMads Østberg: “Today’s leg on tarmac boosted my confidence. I’m pleased with my performances. I worked a lot on using the tyres well, especially on the long stage and given the particularly hot conditions for this time of year. I feel that everything worked pretty well. We have to make sure of the result tomorrow.”
Kris Meeke: “It’s always difficult to get back into the swing of things after rejoining under Rally 2 rules. But it’s also an opportunity to learn about the stages. The result isn’t really all that important now. So I’m only concentrating on the performances. I’m trying to make the most of every kilometre and every corner!”
Khalid Al Qassimi: “To begin with, I tried to find the right feeling with the new Michelin tyres. I started to drive more quickly in the second loop. Unfortunately, the surface had become very dirty. So I decided not to take any more risks.”
HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDEDSS8 – Tivissa (3.96km) – After spending the first day on gravel, the crews began day two on tarmac. First on the road, Kris Meeke got his first glimpse of this short, very uneven stage. Jari-Matti Latvala set the fastest time, whilst Andreas Mikkelsen grabbed third place overall from Mads Østberg.
SS9 – Escaladei 1 (50.00km) – The longest stage of the rally saw Kris Meeke pick up another puncture. Ahead, Jari-Matti Latvala tried to close the gap to the overall leader, Sébastien Ogier. Mikko Hirvonen also moved head of Mads Østberg.
SS10 – Colldejou 1 (26.48km) – Jari-Matti Latvala continued to reduce the gap separating him from Sébastien Ogier, at the front of the field. Positions remained unchanged behind, as Kris Meeke finished fourth on the stage and Mads Østberg was sixth.
SS11 – Escaladei 2 (50.00km) – The roads on Escaladei proved to be very muddy on the second pass. Sébastien Ogier claimed the stage win, ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke. Mads Østberg took advantage of a puncture for Mikkelsen to recover fourth overall.
SS12 – Colldejou 2 (26.48km) – Kris Meeke came very close to recording another stage win but missed out by just 0.2s to Jari-Matti Latvala. The gap between the top two, Latvala and Ogier, dipped below the thirty second mark again. Mads Østberg held onto fourth place.
SS13 – Salou (2.24km) – The day’s short final stage, held just a few hundred metres from the service park, had no impact on the standings. Sébastien Ogier ended the day ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala, Mikko Hirvonen and Mads Østberg.
STANDINGS AFTER DAY 21. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 1:29:04.02. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +27.33. Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:18.64. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (Citroën DS3 WRC) +1:48.35. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:10.46. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:33.17. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +3:48.28. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +7:31.09. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +8:28.510. Yuriy Protasov / Pavlo Cherepin (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +9:50.6…15. Khalid Al Qassimi / Chris Patterson (Citroën DS3 WRC) +12:23.0…
Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala, 4 – Andreas Mikkelsen, 2 – Kris Meeke, Hayden Paddon and Thierry Neuville, 1.
SS1 and SS2: Andreas MikkelsenSS3: Thierry NeuvilleSS4 to SS13: Sébastien Ogier