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WRC - Tänak secures maiden FIA Drivers’ Championship* while Neuville wins Rally of Spain

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Rally de España - Sunday

2019 WRC - Rally of Spain - 2019 WRC Champions O. Tänak / M. Järveoja

Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul scored victory at the Rally of Spain for Hyundai, snatching the lead in Saturday’s first stage and maintaining their position at the top until the finish line. But it was not enough to stop the championship points leaders Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja in their mission: the Estonian pair dominated the Power Stage, claiming maximum score and taking away second place from Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio to claim a maiden World Rally Championship title*.

Conditions were dry and typical of the Spanish round, with air temperatures just over 20 degrees celsius, ensuring the drivers had plenty of grip on the asphalt for Sunday’s two loops of two stages.

Neuville controlled the lead of the rally in first position from Saturday’s first morning speed test, but his teammate Sordo, in second overnight, had the pressure of Tänak on his heels. Sordo managed to keep Tänak at bay for most of the final day, taking two additional stage wins on Sunday morning, but the Estonian set a scorching time in the Power Stage, gaining six seconds on the Spaniard, which promoted him to second place and enabled him to secure the 2019 WRC title*.


2019 WRC - Rally of Spain - Final podium

Sébastien Ogier had also started the Rally of Spain with a relative chance to stay in the title race for the season finale in Australia, but his hopes were dashed at the start of Friday when an hydraulic issue caused his power steering and paddle-shift gear selector to fail. The defending champion finished eighth overall after losing over four minutes.

Hyundai showed dominant pace across the rally, occupying the top 3 spots of the timesheets at one point during five stages in a row on Saturday. Sébastien Loeb, who was the rally leader on Friday evening following a day on gravel, did not manage to find the right feeling in his car on tarmac. The 2018 event winner dropped back behind both his teammates Neuville and Sordo on Saturday and then fell behind Tänak after the evening’s street stage in Salou into fourth place, where he finished the rally.

Jari-Matti Latvala scored solid points for Toyota in fifth, the Finn ending 6.3s behind Loeb. The M-Sport Ford pair of Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen finished sixth and seventh respectively. Evans had been fighting Latvala for a top five finish earlier on the event but the Welshman suffered technical issues on Friday. Teemu Suninen finished seventh, despite a spin in the rally-ending Power Stage.

Ogier, in the only remaining Citroën, recovered to eighth after his power steering problems on the opening day but was unable to prevent his former M-Sport teammate to claim the 2019 title. The second Citroën driver, Esapekka Lappi, was forced to retire on Friday’s final stage with an engine related issue and could not start again.

Behind Ogier, FIA WRC 2 Pro winner Mads Østberg and FIA WRC 2 winner Eric Camilli, both driving Citroën R5s, completed the leaderboard in ninth and tenth respectively.

Kris Meeke was fighting the Hyundai trio for a podium place but crashed on Saturday morning’s second stage. The Ulsterman restarted on Sunday to finish in 30th position overall. Takamoto in the last WRC car – a privately entered Toyota Yaris – had set his sights on a Top 10 finish he dropped to 40th overall as a gearbox problem cost him over 30 minutes.

* subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA.


2019 Rally of Spain – Final official results:

1. Thierry Neuville (BEL) / Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL)Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC3hr 07min 39.6sec
2. Ott Tänak (EST) / Martin Järveoja (EST)                         Toyota Yaris WRC3hr 07min 56.8sec
3. Dani Sordo (SPA) / Carlos Del Barrio (SPA)Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC3hr 07min 57.2sec
4. Sébastien Loeb (FRA) / Daniel Elena (MON)Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC3hr 08min 33.5sec
5. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) / Mikka AnttilaToyota Yaris WRC3hr 08min 39.8sec
6. Elfyn Evans (GBR) / Scott Martin (GBR)Ford Fiesta WRC3hr 08min 53.8sec
7. Teemu Suninen (FIN) / Marko Salminen (FIN)Ford Fiesta WRC3hr 09min 27.2sec
8. Sébastien Ogier (FRA) / Julien Ingrassia (FRA)Citroën C3 WRC3hr 12min 00.1sec
9. Mads Østberg (NOR) / Torstein Eriksen (NOR)Citroën C3 R53hr 16min 04.2sec
10. Eric Camilli (FRA) / Benjamin Veillas (FRA)Citroën C3 R53hr 16min 26.8sec