Rally Spain Pace Report

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Rally Spain Quick Recap

Thierry Neuville took a deserved Rally Spain win in which Hyundai had dominated since early on. Ott Tanak also had a clean though strengthening drive peaked with a storming Power Stage to take the championship and the headlines. Sebastien Ogier‘s competitive hopes ended on only the second stage, as his Citroen’s power steering failed and he dropped mega time wrestling the car around the rest of the loop.

Dani Sordo probably finished expecting a strong second place but was pipped by Tanak by 0.4s at the end. Sebastien Loeb led the rally on Friday evening, but had a less strong tarmac event. Jari-Matti Latvala was not far behind at the end but was not in any real battles all weekend.

Kris Meeke had another rally of setting good times but undoing all the hard work by a slam into the barrier and crashing out.

M-Sporters Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen probably went in to the tarmac side of the rally accepting their positions. An engine problem affected Evans on Friday, Suninen had little drama but a spin on the Power Stage.

Esapekka Lappi had terminal engine problems on SS5 which could not be repaired for restart. Toyota trialist Takamoto Katsuta also had a good rally but his Toyota’s gearbox had issues losing him masses of time and penalties which took him out the points positions.

See the full classifications at wrc.com. See the stage profiles at Rally-Maps.com.

Chart showing high, low and overall Rally Spain classifications.
Rally Spain high, low and overall classifications.

Key Rally Spain Drives

Biggest Stage Win (To 2nd)

Dani Sordo – SS4 Gandesa 2: This 7km sprint started off on tarmac followed by a very fast and flowing downhill stretch on gravel. On this drop of 150m in altitude in about 4km, Sordo was the biggest winner. At the first split which was placed at the bottom of this hill, Sordo was 1.9s quicker than the second fastest, team mate Sebastien Loeb. Third fastest at this point was the other Hyundai of Neuville.

Interesting though, from this split to the finish without much elevation change and with more, longer corners, other drivers lower down the road order could get closer to his pace. Only Suninen beating him through these 2kms, Sordo’s speed went from an average of 103kph to split 1 to 92.9kph to the finish.

Chart highlighting how fast Dani Sordo was on Gandessa 2 of Rally Spain.
A quick split time analysis of SS4 Gandessa 2 (@ 5 and 7km) to highlight Sordo’s speed. Note Sordo was not quickest to the gravel at about 0.7km. The dream of more accuracy on these charts based on GPS remains.

A short stage, a very small time advantage – but they are at the top on the only gravel day. It put Sordo into the lead. BUT here comes the counter argument in defence of the other drivers. Perhaps they were driving more conservatively? Though Sordo also had another excellent stage to follow up, these two stages were not even half the kilometres of the loop. On the monster 38.85km SS6 La Fatarella he dropped time and lost 2 positions. At the stop line he said he didn’t think he did anything wrong. Was he too aggressive on the tyres too soon? If not, why was this ‘biggest win to second‘ on the shortest stage of the rally?

Chart showing how close to the stage win time WRC drivers were.
Analysis of Rally Spain stage results. Note how much closer the Saturday tarmac stages are (SS7-13) compared to the gravel of Friday (SS1-6). For some drivers Sunday will always just be a cruise.

Biggest Tarmac Stage Win

Ott Tanak – SS17 Power Stage La Mussara 2: Not happy to leave picking up the trophy in Australia, Ott smashed the Power Stage in signature style. Beating your nearest competitor by nearly 0.2s/km is good, on a Power Stage where you know they re pushing is something else. Not only did he get the 5 bonus points and the championship title, this drive lifted him above Sordo into second overall for the Rally.

Best Loop

Sebastien Loeb – Friday PM: Seb won the two longer of the three stages in this loop. The last of which (La Fatarella) was 9s quicker than a flying Meeke. In the earlier days of their careers this would have been a close time, but massive by modern WRC standards.

Chart showing overall pace of loops.
Loop pace for WRC drivers at Rally Spain.

Fastest Stage Winner

Ott Tanak – SS12 El Montmell 2: The fourth consecutive stage win for Tanak came at an average 119.89kph over 24.2km. See IGFN for a full description of the stage, then check out the onboard at plus.wrc.com. This screenshot is from the ‘hyper fast’ section where Ott didn’t lift, even when cornering at 192kph, on the rev limiter in top gear.

Onboard of Ott Tanak winning El Montmell. The fastest stage of Rally Spain.
Ott Tanak attacking SS2 El Montmell 2 at Rally Spain at top speed, not lifting through the curves ahead.

Rally Spain Pace Report Cards

T. Neuville & N. Gilsoul / Hyundai i20

  • Overall Classification: 1st
  • Expected Classification (xC): 2nd
  • Average Pace: +0.112s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 99.49%
  • Stage Wins: 5/17
  • Points: 28
  • Power Stage: 3rd
  • Best Pace: Solid and strong all rally. His personal best performance and one of the best RTR percentages of the season.
  • Notable Time Loss: Nothing more than little niggles.

O. Tanak & M. Jarveoja / Toyota Yaris

  • Overall Classification: 2nd
  • Expected Classification (xC): 3rd
  • Average Pace: +0.165s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 99.25%
  • Stage Wins: 5/17
  • Points: 23
  • Power Stage: 1st
  • Best Pace: After SS8 he dropped few seconds, that’s half the rally distance. Destroyed all opponents on the Power Stage on their way to pick up the Championship trophy.
  • Notable Time Loss: Opened the road on Friday so understandably wasn’t fastest, but he was probably saving his best pace.

D. Sordo & C. del Barrio / Hyundai i20

  • Overall Classification: 3rd
  • Expected Classification (xC): 1st
  • Average Pace: +0.166s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 99.24%
  • Stage Wins: 3/17
  • Points: 17
  • Power Stage: 4th
  • Best Pace: Most of Friday’s gravel stages, two scratches of Sunday’s tarmac tests.
  • Notable Time Loss: Big time loss on SS6 La Fatarella 2, with no real idea of why. Lost position to Kris Meeke on Saturday’s opener, but he subsequently crashed out.
gPace chart showing time loss for each WRC driver at Rally Spain.
Rally Spain analysis of time loss chart.

S. Loeb & D. Elena / Hyundai i20

  • Overall Classification: 4th
  • Expected Classification (xC): 7th
  • Average Pace: +0.277s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 98.74%
  • Stage Wins: 3/17
  • Points: 12
  • Power Stage: 7th
  • Best Pace: Eased in to Friday and went on to get a few stage wins including both passes of the La Fatarella. On the second pass destroyed the opposition and put himself into an overnight lead.
  • Notable Time Loss: Could not match his gravel pace on asphalt, and didn’t seem to have the answers as to why.

JM. Latvala & M. Anttila / Toyota Yaris

  • Overall Classification: 5th
  • Expected Classification (xC): 8th
  • Average Pace: +0.297s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 98.65%
  • Stage Wins: 0/17
  • Points: 10
  • Power Stage: 6th
  • Best Pace: Saturday was his strongest day, but for brake pressure struggles on the first stage. Needed a clean rally but wasn’t really threatened from behind over the weekend.
  • Notable Time Loss: Both passes of La Fatarella for individual passes. Wasn’t happy with setup the first time and his management of the tyres on the second, could have finished a position higher or two otherwise.

E. Evans & S. Martin / Ford Fiesta

  • Overall Classification: 6th
  • Expected Classification (xC): 5th
  • Average Pace: +0.340s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 98.45%
  • Stage Wins: 0/17
  • Points: 12
  • Power Stage: 2nd
  • Best Pace: Consistent over all the asphalt stages.
  • Notable Time Loss: SS6 engine problem, losing approx 40s, the bulk of his overall time lost to the winner.
Pace chart for all stages.
WRC Pace for each stage for all P1 drivers.

T. Suninen & J. Lehtinen / Ford Fiesta

  • Overall Classification: 7th
  • Expected Classification (xC): 9th
  • Average Pace: +0.442s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 97.98%
  • Stage Wins: 0/17
  • Points: 6
  • Power Stage: 9th
  • Best Pace: Stages SS9 and SS12 El Montmell were standout performances.
  • Notable Time Loss: A minor error on the Power Stage was a blemish on a clean rally, though he was in no battles from Friday lunchtime onward.

S. Ogier & J. Ingrassia / Citroen C3

  • Overall Classification: 8th
  • Expected Classification (xC): 6th
  • Average Pace: +0.912s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 95.84%
  • Stage Wins: 1/17
  • Points: 5
  • Power Stage: 5th
  • Best Pace: Saturday was a good day to climb back into the points positions from a low 28th. Opened the rally with a stage win until disaster.
  • Notable Time Loss: Power steering failure on SS2, carried through SS3 ended his championship hopes and apparent desire to push.

K. Meeke & S. Marshall / Toyota Yaris

  • Overall Classification: 30th
  • Expected Classification (xC): 4th
  • Average Pace: +0.259s/km (*Completed Stages)
  • Rally Time Rating: 63.92%
  • Stage Wins: 0/17
  • Points: 0
  • Power Stage: 8th
  • Retirements: 1 (Accident SS8)
  • Best Pace: Was the leading Toyota after Friday. Opened Saturday with a strong time but then crashed out. Possibly instructed to push by the team to threaten Hyundai’s dominance at the top.
  • Notable Time Loss: Ripping a wheel off on SS8 Querol 1 forcing retirement. Six stages of bogey times.

E. Lappi & J. Ferm / Citroen C3

  • Overall Classification: DNF
  • Expected Classification (xC): –
  • Average Pace: +0.267s/km (*Completed Stages)
  • Rally Time Rating: 0%
  • Stage Wins: 0/17
  • Points: 0
  • Power Stage: –
  • Retirements: 1 (Mechanical SS5)
  • Best Pace: Had a good strategy over the four stages completed. Easy on the short stages but strong times over the longer ones. Could have had a good rally.
  • Notable Time Loss: Total engine failure forced retirement.

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Though the title may be over the season may not, so it will be interesting to see what kind of performances we will see there. Until then if you would like to get in touch, see the contact page or @PushingPace. Feature image thanks to Twitter/Hyundai Motorsport.

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