Catalunya WRC: Loeb leads Hyundai 1-2-3

Sebastien Loeb has launched himself into the lead of Rally Spain, sealing a Hyundai 1-2-3 ahead of Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo.

Catalunya WRC: Loeb leads Hyundai 1-2-3

Despite "pushing really hard," Toyota's Ott Tanak has slipped from third to fifth place, 20 seconds behind Neuville.

But as things stand Tanak, who will switch to Hyundai next season, is provisionally set to clinch his first WRC title on Sunday subject to powerstage points.

Loeb was a man on a mission, jumping up from sixth to fourth on stage four before overhauling Tanak into third with a stage win on Horta-Bot.

With a "perfect" car, Loeb "tried very hard" and destroyed his competition on La Fatarella-Vilalba by 8.9s to fly into the lead. He is 1.7s ahead of Neuville ahead of Saturday's Tarmac stages.

Sordo and Neuville began Friday afternoon separated by just one second in first and second, but Sordo quickly found an edge and grabbed 3.2s from his teammate on Gandesa to establish a 4.2s lead.

Another 0.4s were eked out over Neuville on Horta-Bot but he struggled on La Fatarella-Vilalba. A confused Sordo lost 10.5s to Neuville to trail by 5.9s in third.

Kris Meeke and Elfyn Evans had been embroiled in a squabble all day, 0.3s apart prior to the afternoon loop.

The pair matched each other on Gandesa before Evans surrendered 1.8s and the position on the stage five, not quite happy with the handling of his M-Sport Fiesta. But it got worse for Evans on La Fatarella-Vilalba and he lost 29.5s to Meeke with a sick sounding engine.

Meeke meanwhile was impeccable on the 24-mile test and vaulted into fourth position ahead of teammate Tanak, 5.4s shy of the podium. Evans fell behind a rejuvenated Latvala to seventh who felt he was "back on the map" after struggling for confidence on Friday morning.

La Fatarella-Vilalba was a tricky stage for M-Sport. Teemu Suninen was in the mood and setting strong times throughout the afternoon but gave up 23.5s to Meeke on Friday's final stage to lie eighth, 7.8s behind teammate Evans overnight.

Sebastien Ogier lost over three minutes with hydraulic problems aboard his Citroen C3 WRC in the morning, seemingly leaving his title hopes in tatters.

Wrestling his Citroen through two stages with no power steering left blisters on his hands, and a mistake on Gandesa where he got crossed up and overshot a hairpin compounded his troubles. Ogier confessed to having no motivation as he languished well outside the top 10 places.

Citroen's weekend got worse when Esapekka Lappi retired from seventh place with a technical problem on the second stage of the loop, Horta-Bot. Lappi's demise promoted Takamoto Katsuta up to ninth, while Citroen could find some solace in Mads Ostberg leading the WRC2 category in 10th.

Tonight the cars will be converted from gravel to Tarmac specification for Saturday and Sunday's legs on asphalt.

shares
comments
Tanak to leave Toyota for Hyundai in shock 2020 move

Previous article

Tanak to leave Toyota for Hyundai in shock 2020 move

Next article

Catalunya WRC: Neuville back ahead, Meeke crashes

Catalunya WRC: Neuville back ahead, Meeke crashes
Load comments

About this article

Series WRC
Event Rally Catalunya
Author Luke Barry
Why there's no easy fix for Hyundai's operational Achilles Heel Prime

Why there's no easy fix for Hyundai's operational Achilles Heel

Hyundai Motorsport boss Andrea Adamo was vocal in his criticism of his team's tyre choices on Rally Croatia and declared that he "had better move my ass and solve it". Doing so will be vital to getting Hyundai's 2021 WRC title hopes back on track, but finding the root of the problem won't be the work of a moment

WRC
Apr 28, 2021
How Ogier survived road crash drama to triumph in Croatia Prime

How Ogier survived road crash drama to triumph in Croatia

Sebastien Ogier was already in an incredibly tight fight at Rally Croatia before a surprise collision with public road traffic at the start of the final day. But the defending champion held his nerve to take a narrow victory and create further World Rally Championship history

WRC
Apr 26, 2021
Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads Prime

Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads

With all three major manufacturers committing to the World Rally Championship’s hybrid era from 2022, the future of the series is assured for now, but it could lead to trickier twists and turns further down the road

WRC
Apr 1, 2021
How Tanak froze out the competition at the Arctic Rally Prime

How Tanak froze out the competition at the Arctic Rally

Ott Tanak made up for a disastrous Monte Carlo Rally by leading all the way on the snow-kissed stages of the Arctic Rally Finland and in the process hit back at an event Toyota had been expected to dominate…

WRC
Mar 1, 2021
What to look out for in the 2021 WRC Prime

What to look out for in the 2021 WRC

As the 2021 World Rally Championship prepares to launch amid tight COVID-19 restrictions in Monte Carlo, here are the eight things unrelated to the pandemic that you should keep an eye on this year

WRC
Jan 21, 2021
Evans on the talking points of WRC 2021 Prime

Evans on the talking points of WRC 2021

He came close to the title last year, and now Toyota's Elfyn Evans gives his verdict on what to expect from 2021 as the World Rally Championship prepares to reconvene for the Monte Carlo season opener.

WRC
Jan 20, 2021
Why Britain's continued WRC absence is a wake-up call Prime

Why Britain's continued WRC absence is a wake-up call

With Rally GB dropping off the World Rally Championship calendar for the second year in a row, one of Britain's best-attended sporting events faces an uncertain future. It's an unfortunate situation that points to troubling times ahead

WRC
Jan 12, 2021
The Top 10 WRC drivers of 2020 Prime

The Top 10 WRC drivers of 2020

A drastically-shortened 2020 season gave the World Rally Championship protagonists precious little stage mileage to strut their stuff, but as ever the cream rose to the top across the seven events. We rank the year's best performers

WRC
Jan 4, 2021