WRC A FULL 2014
MADS ØSTBERG MAKES IT THROUGH THE DUST.
Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson lie third overall at Rally de España at the end of day one.
After completing seven stages in gravel configuration, the DS3 WRCs will be converted this evening in preparation to be driven on tarmac from tomorrow.
Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle picked up two punctures on one test, and were therefore unable to complete all of today’s stages. Khalid Al Qassimi and Chris Patterson ended the leg in thirteenth position.
RallyRACC Catalunya – Rally de España (23-26/10/2014) – Day 1
24 October 2014
Before the start of this, the only mixed-surface event on the calendar, Mads Østberg had warned that the first day on gravel would set the tone for his rally.
The Norwegian managed to combine speed and consistency, despite the hanging dust which held him up more than any other driver.
Second fastest behind Kris Meeke on SS2, Mads lost several seconds on the following stage when he caught up with his team-mate after the second of his two punctures.
Having grabbed a top-three spot before the midday service by setting a good time on the 35 kilometre-long Terra Alta 1, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver edged closer to the leader before the day’s final stage.
Once again slowed by the dust kicked up by Thierry Neuville on SS7, Mads saw the seconds slip away as he was forced to focus only on avoiding making any mistakes given the very poor level of visibility.
Mads Østberg therefore ended the day in third place, less than a second behind the second-placed driver.
For Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle, the leg was over on SS3. After starting the day with a stage win on Gandesa, the British driver was running in second overall when he suffered two punctures. Unable to continue with only one spare tyre on board, he had no choice but to retire for the day. The DS3 WRC will be able to rejoin on Saturday in its tarmac version, with a 20-minute penalty.
The longest service period of the year will take place this evening in Salou. In 1 hour 15 minutes, all the cars will switch from gravel to tarmac configuration. Tomorrow, the route is completely changed, featuring six stages, including two runs on the fifty kilometre-long Escaladei. The cars are due to leave parc ferme at 8.00am. They are expected back in Salou at 5.00pm for a city-centre super special stage before concluding the day with a flexi-service at 5.32pm.
Mads Østberg: “Overall, we can feel happy with our performance today. We just lost a lot of time in the dust. But it was important to prove that we were capable of being competitive. Our goal was to finish the first leg on gravel in the top 3 and we’ve done that. We have made a lot of progress recently on tarmac. I hope we can prove that tomorrow.”
Kris Meeke: “We went fastest on the first stage of the day. On the next stage, after three or four kilometres, I went off the line, ran wide and put a wheel off the road on a fifth-gear corner. I didn’t think that I had lost any time, but I felt that the tyre was beginning to deflate. We therefore decided to stop to change the tyre. When we set off again, we were still in the dust kicked up by the other cars. The team asked us to park at the side of the road to let Mads past. Towards the end of the stage, I realised that I’d also picked up a puncture at the front. As we only had one spare tyre, we couldn’t continue.”
Khalid Al Qassimi: “I didn’t push too hard. My aim here was above all to have fun in the DS3 WRC. We tried to find the right balance, but I know that I can go a little bit quicker. We did some good work on the set-up, but tomorrow will be a very different day. If I have a good feeling on asphalt, I will try to drive a bit quicker. The long stage looks like it will be particularly tricky.”
HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS1 – Barcelona (3.20km) – Held on Thursday evening in the streets of the capital of Catalonia, this tarmac stage brought the rally action closer to the fans. Andreas Mikkelsen won the stage. Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg followed one another in sixth and seventh positions. Sébastien Chardonnet set the 13th fastest time overall, better than any of the other WRC2 competitors.
SS2 – Gandesa 1 (7.00km) – With a light breeze, the Citroën drivers took advantage of the good conditions to record their first one-two finish of the season. Kris Meeke beat Mads Østberg to the win, and moved closer to the overall lead.
SS3 – Pesells 1 (26.59km) – Kris Meeke arrived at the end of the stage having suffered two punctures, thus forcing him to retire for the day. Hampered by the dust, Mads Østberg lost a few seconds and fell back to eighth overall. Eleventh on the road, Hayden Paddon set the fastest time. Thierry Neuville moved into the overall lead. In his DS3 R5, Stéphane Lefebvre was forced to retire.
SS4 – Terra Alta 1 (35.68km) – First on the road, Sébastien Ogier avoided the handing dust kicked up as more cars completed the stage. He set the fastest time on the longest stage of the day to grab the overall lead. Mads Østberg climbed back into the top 3 with the third-fastest time.
SS5 – Gandesa 2 (7.00km) – Mads Østberg grabbed another third fastest time to reduce the gap to Thierry Neuville in second. Sébastien Ogier extended his lead at the front.
SS6 – Pesells 2 (26.59km) – Mads Østberg maintained his good form to edge closer to the leader at the end of Pessels, a stage won by Thierry Neuville.
SS7 – Terra Alta 2 (35.68km) – A puncture forced Thierry Neuville to stop on the stage to change the tyre. He set off again in front of Mads Østberg, who was forced to drive through a thick cloud of dust. The Norwegian lost quite a bit of time and with it, second position, whilst Sébastien Ogier grabbed the stage win. Jari-Matti Latvala moved up into second place… In the WRC2, Sébastien Chardonnet stopped a few kilometres from the end of the stage.
STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 1:29:04.0
2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +36.6
3. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (Citroën DS3 WRC) +37.2
4. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +37.3
5. Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +41.4
6. Robert Kubica / Maciej Szczepaniak (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +57.0
7. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:24.9
8. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:18.2
9. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:29.5
10. Nasser Al-Attiyah / Giovanni Bernacchini (Ford Fiesta RRC) +4:50.4…
13. Khalid Al Qassimi / Chris Patterson (Citroën DS3 WRC) +6:13.9…
Sébastien Ogier, 3 – Kris Meeke, Andreas Mikkelsen, Hayden Paddon and Thierry Neuville, 1.
SS1 and SS2: Andreas Mikkelsen
SS3: Thierry Neuville
SS4 to SS7: Sébastien Ogier
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