Sordo wins another stage, Neuville nears Spain victory

The Hyundai Motorsport drivers are holding position in first and third in their rivalry against Toyota

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Dani Sordo has continued to pull clear of Sébastien Ogier in the fight for third place on Rally Spain, but Hyundai team-mate Thierry Neuville is poised for victory with one stage remaining.

Sordo had begun Sunday just behind Ogier on the leaderboard but vaulted past him on the first pass of Santa Marina which was held before the sun had risen.

On the repeat pass in broad daylight, Sordo found another 0.7 seconds over Ogier to sit 2.3s clear ahead of the final stage. It was Sordo’s third stage win from three stages on Sunday.

“Maybe two corners I can do a little bit more but honestly I can’t do much more,” said Sordo.

Asked if Sordo was catchable, Ogier responded: “On a regular drive yes we keep on doing our job. Honestly we had a good drive in this stage, a good push, but we see we are losing too much speed anyway.”

Neuville dropped 2.3s to stage winner Sordo on SS16 but that was of little concern as he looks to simply protect his rally lead. And he was again quicker than second-placed Elfyn Evans who could only produce the sixth-fastest time, 0.7s down on Neuville.


Photo: Toyota Gazoo Racing

“There’s so many horrible cuts in here I was just erring on the side of caution how much I want to go in, so for sure that cost a bit of time,” Evans explained.

Quizzed if he would push for powerstage points, Evans – who is prolonging the fight for the World Rally Championship title against Ogier by sitting two places ahead of him – said: “They [points] all count so we need to try.”

Oliver Solberg edged his 2C Competition Hyundai team-mate Nil Solans by 1.3s on the penultimate test, allowing him to increase his advantage over him in the overall classification to 4.7s.

Solberg’s primary goal however is just to gain experience in this level of car on asphalt as Rally Spain is his first asphalt rally in the WRC in an i20 Coupe WRC.

“I struggle a lot with understeer, it’s using the tires already,” assessed Solberg. “I did some other changes which was better, some other changes which were not better.”


Solans’ approach was similar.

“I’m not focusing on the times really,” he said, “I just want to enjoy and keep learning.

“The car is stiffer, it’s like a go-kart but maybe it would work better on another set-up.”

Rally Spain is the Spanish driver’s first event in a World Rally Car as he deputizex for the injured Pierre-Louis Loubet.

For the first time on Sunday though, both drivers had the bettering of M-Sport’s Gus Greensmith who is just 4.9s up the road from Solberg in sixth.

It’ll be an emotional end to the rally for Greensmith though as co-driver Chris Patterson will head back into retirement after this weekend.


Photo: M-Sport World Rally Team

“We’re very privileged, we’re doing the best stages in the world at the moment, the car is so fantastic on these roads and with my good friend Gus so what’s [there] to complain [about],” said Patterson as he prepares for what should be his final stage in the WRC.

Team-mate Adrien Fourmaux has little chance of securing any championship points for overall position but could be a contender for powerstage points based on his pace on SS16.

The M-Sport driver is several minutes down after his collision with an Armco barrier on Saturday but was third-fastest on the penultimate stage with the same time as rally leader Neuville.

Takamoto Katsuta, recovering from his retirement on Friday, was similarly impressive, just 0.1s slower than Fourmaux on the stage.

SS16 times

1 Dani Sordo/Candido Carrera (Hyundai) 5m02.4s
2 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota) +0.7s
3 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +2.3s
4 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +2.4s
5 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +2.4s
6 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +3.0s

Leading positions after SS16

1 Neuville/Wydaeghe (Hyundai) 2h24m01.1s
2 Evans/Martin (Toyota) +21.3s
3 Sordo/Carrera (Hyundai) +36.7s
4 Ogier/Ingrassia (Toyota) +39.0s
5 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +1m26.3s
6 Gus Greensmith/Chris Patterson (M-Sport Ford) +4m04.2s
7 Oliver Solberg/Craig Drew (Hyundai) +4m09.1s
8 Nil Solans/Marco Marti (Hyundai) +4m13.8s
9 Eric Camilli/Maxime Vilmot (Citroën) +9m09.0s
10 Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov (Skoda) +9m18.4s