Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team have retained their lead in the manufacturers’ standings going into the final round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship, following mixed fortunes in Spain at the weekend.
Although all three Yaris WRC drivers demonstrated leading pace on the event’s combination of gravel and asphalt stages, none made it to the podium on Sunday. Nonetheless, Ott Tänak still has a chance of taking the driver’s title after claiming maximum points in the rally’s Power Stage.
Tommi Mäkinen, Team Principal, said: “It has been an incredible weekend with a lot of highs and lows and an amazing battle from start to finish. It could have turned out so much better for us. Still, all three drivers got to the end of the rally, scored the points for the manufacturers’ championship and Ott did a great job on the Power Stage to keep the drivers’ title alive. We still feel really confident going to Australia, we have fast drivers and a fast, reliable car.”
Tänak took the lead early on the first full day of action on gravel routes, while team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala netted three stage wins before dropping down the order with a puncture. Going into Saturday, heavy rain made the asphalt stages muddy and slippery, but Tänak duly posted fastest time on the opening stage, only to suffer a puncture and wheel damage on the next test, effectively ending his hopes of victory.
It fell to Latvala to mount an exceptional recovery which brought him into the lead after the first stage of the afternoon. Esapekka Lappi also performed strongly to move up to seventh. A close battle throughout Sunday ended when Latvala, running in second, clipped a barrier and suffered another puncture, relegating him to eighth overall. Tänak recovered to sixth and Lappi was seventh.
The final round of the championship will be Rally Australia on 15 to 18 November. The event is run on gravel roads with a combination of tight and twist forest tracks and fast flowing sections across open countryside. Trees lining the road present a hazard in many areas, while hanging dust can impede visibility.
PROVISIONAL FINAL CLASSIFICATION, RALLY DE ESPAÑA
1 Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Citroen C3 WRC) 3h12m08.0s
2 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2.9s
3 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +16.5s
4 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +17.0s
5 Dani Sordo/Carlos Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +18.6s
6 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m03.9s
7 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m16.6s
8 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m26.4s
9 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +2m07.0s
10 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2m48.2s