Adrien Fourmaux’s impressive Saturday on Rally Spain fell apart on SS11 as he nudged a barrier, damaged his front-left wheel and losing almost nine minutes.
Fourmaux had been fairly anonymous through Friday as he tried to bed himself into the event with M-Sport having not conducted a pre-event test.
But he’s been rejuvenated on Saturday, claiming he now understands how to drive the Spanish roads with a particularly noteworthy second fastest time on the first pass of Querol – Les Pobles.
However the second pass was a disaster for Fourmaux and co-driver Alexandre Coria as the pair faltered on a narrow mountain section.
Threading his way through the section, Fourmaux was a touch greedy and got his line wrong, clipping a barrier on the inside of a small left kink that pitched his car into a half-spin.
Fourmaux and Coria were soon out of the Ford to assess the damage and carried out repairs, but when they got back in they were unable to get the car moving. They therefore dropped yet more time before setting on their way albeit at a reduced pace.
That was best exemplified by the entertaining cat-and-mouse chase between Fourmaux and Sébastien Ogier towards the end of the stage as Ogier caught Fourmaux’s Fiesta WRC rapidly, almost glued to his bumper come the flying finish.
Although Ogier raised a hand in despair when he coasted to the finish-line, Fourmaux had cost him no time as Ogier shared the stage win with rally leader Thierry Neuville, pulling further clear of fourth-placed Dani Sordo.
Neuville and Ogier were 1.6s quicker than Elfyn Evans, meaning Neuville’s rally lead has extended further to 12.7s and his stage winning streak continues. He’s only been beaten to two stage victories from 11 outright so far.
Behind Kalle Rovanperä’s quiet yet effective run in fifth, Gus Greensmith fared far better than his team-mate Fourmaux, continuing his mission to salvage back the positions he lost to a puncture in the morning, Greensmith battered the two 2C Competition Hyundais on SS11.
Outpacing Nil Solans by 11.4s and Oliver Solberg by 5.2s, Greensmith has moved up a net two places with Fourmaux’s issues, but Solberg is still 27.7s clear of the M-Sport driver.
Solans was overhauled by Greensmith but because of Fourmaux’s capitulation he actually remains in eighth place. Solberg is up to sixth with Greensmith seventh.
1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota) 10m30.5s
= Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +0.0s
3 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +1.6s
4 Dani Sordo/Candido Carrera (Hyundai) +2.4s
5 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +4.2s
6 Gus Greensmith/Chris Patterson (Ford) +4.5s
Leading positions after SS11
1 Neuville/Wydaeghe (Hyundai) 1h49m17.2s
2 Evans/Martin (Toyota) +12.7s
3 Ogier/Ingrassia (Toyota) +33.4s
4 Sordo/Carrera (Hyundai) +39.0s
5 Rovanperä/Halttunen (Toyota) +1m00.3s
6 Oliver Solberg/Craig Drew (Hyundai) +3m01.2s
7 Greensmith/Patterson (Ford) +3m28.9s
8 Nil Solans/Marco Marti (Hyundai) +3m35.7s
9 Eric Camilli/Maxime Vilmot (Citroën) +7m01.1s
10 Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov (Skoda) +7m11.6s