Ogier strikes back at Sordo in Spain podium fight

While Thierry Neuville extends his lead, Sébastien Ogier makes third more secure


Sébastien Ogier responded to pressure from the pursuing Dani Sordo, pulling three seconds out of his rival to consolidate his hold on third position on Rally Spain.

Ogier had enjoyed a 6.2s advantage after eight of Spain’s 17 stages but headed to service just 0.2s ahead after dropping six seconds on SS9.

However the seven-time World Rally champion regrouped, altered the set-up on his Toyota once more and came out swinging to build the gap back up to 3.2s.

“I tried a bit harder for sure, and another new set-up on the car,” Ogier confirmed. “A little bit better.”

Sordo countered: “I was never good in this stage so it’s no problem. It’s very aggressive for the tires, I feel in the stage the tire was suffering a bit so I don’t want to… it was difficult.”

Thierry Neuville meanwhile has earned himself a double-figure rally lead now, winning yet another stage to increase his lead margin over Elfyn Evans to 11.1s.

Neuville has won every single stage on Saturday so far and the last seven in total counting back to Friday afternoon.

Evans was only third fastest, 2.1s down on Neuville and 0.7s shy of Ogier’s effort, and wasn’t totally content with the set-up of his Yaris WRC.

“Some bits are better, some bits are not so good to be honest,” he said. “Struggling in some areas but OK.”

Having fallen from seventh to ninth with a puncture on the final stage before service, Gus Greensmith’s mission is to try to leap past the two 2C Competition Hyundais of Oliver Solberg and Nil Solans.

Greensmith nibbled 0.8s out of Solans to trail the eighth placed driver by 4.6s, but the M-Sport driver was edged by Solberg by 1.7s, which increased the grip to 32.9s.

He appeared to have a slight issue launching his Ford Fiesta WRC, the start procedure not going quite as it should with Greensmith raising his hand slightly as he left the start, and then once on the stage he made a small error.

“I just took a corner like normal and then the loose sent me straight into the field, so it’s tricky,” he explained.

Adrien Fourmaux is 1m19.5s clear of this developing tussle after significantly upping his pace on Saturday with a better feeling aboard his M-Sport Ford.

Fourmaux is 35.9s behind Kalle Rovanperä’s Toyota in sixth overall, dropping 3.4s on SS10 as Rovanperä set an impressive fourth-best time.