WRC – Tänak extends lead ahead of a tight battle for second | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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WRC – Tänak extends lead ahead of a tight battle for second

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Rally de Espana - Friday afternoon

Ott Tänak has done everything possible to keep his fight for this year’s world title alive by claiming and then extending his lead on Rally de España, the penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The Estonian has widened his morning advantage and now heads Dani Sordo by 26.8 seconds after the first and only day contested on gravel. Elfyn Evans slipped to third in the final stage, but is just 2.9 seconds further adrift of the Spaniard.

This afternoon crews returned to the same three stages and while Tänak continued to experience some damper overheating issues, his lead extended, now over Sordo who has been pushing hard in a close-fought battle between a number of drivers. The Spaniard had a better feeling with the i20 Coupe WRC this afternoon and is enjoying being in the thick of the fight on his home event. Evans was second going into the final stage of the day and was naturally disappointed to lose the position after a great day on the Spanish gravel stages.

Behind them, nine-time FIA World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb has charged from sixth to fourth and is just five-tenths of a second behind Evans after changing some of the settings on the C3 WRC that allowed him to push harder. He has a charging Jari-Matti Latvala on his heels too. After dropping to 10th with a puncture this morning, the Finn has regained his confidence and two stage wins have elevated him to fifth in the standings. He is 10.8 seconds adrift of second position and fighting those ahead as well as those behind. He has former team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen 1.5 seconds behind, the Norwegian losing a bit of ground having taken two spare wheels and worrying he had sustained damage after hitting a rock. Sebastien Ogier is seventh having lost time throughout the day running near the front of the field. He is however only three-tenths of a second off Mikkelsen. Similarly, eighth-placed Breen is a handful of seconds behind and while he is 44.7 seconds adrift of the lead, he is just 18 seconds off second position, such is the tight fight behind runaway leader Tänak. After a difficult day running first on the road, Championship leader Thierry Neuville overnights ninth. He hit a rock under braking and has pushed to the limit, admitting to being unable to do more today. Esapekka Lappi rounds out the top 10; he had a spin and was at a loss to know why he couldn’t push harder. Teemu Suninen, in his first outing in a world rally car in Spain, is 11th.

Volkswagen Motorsport is back in the WRC, but this time debuting its all-new Polo GTi R5 car. Eric Camilli is doing the team proud and leads the category having won one of the afternoon stages. Teenage sensation Kalle Rovanperä is now second having overhauled Camilli’s team-mate and former FIA World Rally Champion Petter Solberg. Rovanperä’s fine form continues, the Finn claiming two fastest times over the three stages. Peugeot driver Taisko Lario has maintained his lead over Enrico Brazolli in the FIA WRC 3 Championship.

Overnight, the teams will now swap the cars from gravel to asphalt specification during a longer than usual final service, as the event now heads onto tarmac roads for Saturday and Sunday.

Rally de España – Unofficial results after Section 4


Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja

Toyota Yaris WRC

1hr 34min 27.4sec


Dani Sordo / Carlos del Barrio

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

1hr 34min 54.2sec


Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt

Ford Fiesta WRC

1hr 34min 57.1sec


Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena

Citroen C3 WRC

1hr 34min 57.6sec


Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila

Toyota Yaris WRC

1hr 35min 05.0sec


Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

1hr 35min 06.5sec


Sebastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia

Ford Fiesta WRC

1hr 35min 06.8sec


Craig Breen / Scott Martin

Citroen C3 WRC

1hr 35min 12.1sec


Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

1hr 35min 27.1sec


Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm

Toyota Yaris WRC

1hr 35min 34.8sec