Dani Sordo has wasted no time in making his move in the battle for third place on Rally Spain, jumping past Sébastien Ogier on the very first stage of Sunday.
Ogier began Sunday just 1.2 seconds clear of Sordo overall, losing several seconds on Saturday’s final Salou street stage with a stall at a hairpin.
The first pass of Santa Marina began at 6am local time, meaning the stage was held in darkness. Sordo woke up in determined mood and edged Ogier by 1.7s on the test to create a 0.5s gap for himself.
It’s a position change that could have big ramification in the World Rally Championship title race as it costs Ogier three points to Elfyn Evans who is currently in second place. Their battle is set to go down to the final round in Monza; Ogier holding a 24-point lead before this rally.
“It was a little bit difficult in the night, some corners are difficult to calculate but let’s see, it looks an interesting day,” said Sordo.
“Let’s see how Séb wakes up today and we try and fight to the end,” he added before knowing Ogier’s time.
“For sure we have to,” Ogier said when asked if he needed to keep pushing. “I didn’t see very well there so I struggled a bit.”
In fairness to Ogier, who was fourth fastest, Sordo’s pace was strong as he won his first stage of the weekend, edging Hyundai team-mate and rally leader Thierry Neuville by 0.7s.
Neuville yet again extended his lead to Evans though, beating Evans by 0.7s to lead by 17.1s with three stages remaining.
“I wasn’t sure it was enough, a lot of cuts and I’m still afraid to get a puncture,” Neuville admitted.
“I had a clean run but I think it’s definitely enough to start the morning in the dark, now in the daylight it’ll be a little better.”
Kalle Rovanperä was on cruise mode on Sunday’s opener, electing not to push with nothing to fight for in a lonely fifth place.
“Yeah it was basically just a check of the notes for me,” he said of his pace, the slowest of the World Rally Car runners.
“We have nothing to drive for so I didn’t want to take any risks.”
Nil Solans closed up to Oliver Solberg in the all-2C Competition battle for seventh place. It’s a fascinating battle of differing experience levels, with Solans predominantly learning the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC and Solberg needing to master the Spanish roads on his first attempt.
Solans bettered Solberg by 2.9s to close to exactly five seconds behind, but both were beaten by M-Sport’s Gus Greensmith who moved 2.6s clear of Solberg in sixth overall.
1 Dani Sordo/Candido Carrera (Hyundai) 5m05.5s
2 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +0.7s
3 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +1.4s
4 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota) +1.7s
5 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +2.1s
6 Nil Solans/Marc Marti (Hyundai) +5.1s
Leading positions after SS14
1 Neuville/Wydaeghe (Hyundai) 2h08m51.9s
2 Evans/Martin (Toyota) +17.1s
3 Sordo/Carrera (Hyundai) +39.2s
4 Ogier/Ingrassia (Toyota) +39.7s
5 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +1m22.0s
6 Gus Greensmith/Chris Patterson (M-Sport Ford) +3m50.6s
7 Oliver Solberg/Craig Drew (Hyundai) +3m53.2s
8 Solans/Marti (Hyundai) +3m58.2s
9 Eric Camilli/Maxime Vilmot (Citroën) +8m11.9s
10 Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov (Skoda) +8m23.7s