Neuville seals second win in Rally Spain

Neuville seals second win in Rally Spain

17.10.2021: Belgium’s Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe maintained their composure and managed their pace to perfection to confirm the driver’s 15th career WRC win at Rally Spain on Sunday.


Belgium’s Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe maintained their composure and managed their pace to perfection to confirm the driver’s 15th career WRC win at Rally Spain on Sunday.
 



The Hyundai i20 Coupé crew dominated the event from the fourth stage on Friday and won 11 of the 17 specials en route to a comfortable 24.1-second victory, despite a starter motor scare before the last stage. It was Neuville’s second win in Spain and a second WRC success with co-driver Wydaeghe.
 


“Relief to be at the end. It was a tough weekend and we fight very hard and hard a good clean run,” said Neuville. “Lots of stress before the last stage again. Really disappointed with that.”
 


Second place for Welshman Elfyn Evans ensures that the outcome of the Drivers’ Championship will be decided at the final round in Italy next month. Evans and co-driver Scott Martin were no match for the triumphant Hyundai crew once Neuville had found a set-up that gave him confidence, but Evans now heads to Monza trailing Toyota team-mate Sébastien Ogier by 17 points in the race for the title.
 


“I’m pleased in one sense and quite frustrated in another,” said Evans. “It was not the perfect weekend. If you have taken a 1-2 in a row it is not a bad set of results but we are fighting a bit of a cause here and it was not what we really wanted.”
 


Bidding for an eighth World Championship in nine seasons, Ogier became embroiled in a frantic tussle with Spain’s Dani Sordo for the final podium place. Sordo gained the upper hand by winning the first three specials of the final morning and a stunning Power Stage win gave the veteran a 50th career WRC podium finish and a ninth top three in his native Spain.


 
Finland’s Kalle Rovanperä had no real incentive to take any risks on the final morning and guided his Yaris to a comfortable fifth position, but the fate of sixth place was much closer: Gus Greensmith began to pull clear of both Oliver Solberg and Nil Solans as the morning progressed and the Briton eventually confirmed the position for M-Sport in his Ford Fiesta.


 
It was a fitting way to mark the last WRC event for Greensmith’s 53-year-old Ulster co-driver Chris Patterson, who now retires from top-flight competition after competing with many drivers, including Kris Meeke, Petter Solberg and Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, in a WRC career that started at the RAC Rally in 1993.
 


Hyundai’s Solberg and Solans had very different reasons to be delighted with their seventh and eighth places. Young Solberg earned a career-best finish on his third event in a World Rally Car and Solans finished his first ever rally in such a car impressively.
 


With Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta and Ford’s Adrien Fourmaux playing catch up following accidents on days one and two respectively, Eric Camilli was able to seal eighth place and victory in WRC2 in his Citroën C3. The Frenchman reached the finish 16.5 seconds clear of Nikolay Gryazin, who was only eligible for WRC2 Teams’ points on this occasion.
 


“Crazy, when I saw the rain. It was very slippery,” said a delighted Camilli, who claimed a third career WRC2 win.
 


Finland’s Teemu Suninen came home third in WRC2, but points for fourth for Mads Østberg meant that Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen clinched the championship title before Monza when the dropped score rule and the number of wins were taken into account.


 
Emil Lindholm entered the event to gain further experience and the Finn managed to win WRC3 by 28.5 seconds. Poland’s Kajetan Kajetanowicz finished second and Ireland’s Joshua Mcerlean was third.
 


Sami Pajari took full advantage of the mistakes made by Junior World Rally Championship rivals Jon Armstrong and Martins Sesks to claim maximum points on the final round of the JWRC. The win also confirmed the coveted title for the Ford driver, who became the youngest ever winner of the prize and the first Finn to do so.
 


“I don’t know what to say,” said an overwhelmed Pajari at the finish. “I feel so thankful for so many people to make this possible.”
 




Sunday – as it happened

 

Repeat runs through two short stages were on the cards for Sunday morning, although Spain’s Pepe López withdrew from third place in the WRC3 fight with mechanical issues.
 


The 14th Santa Marina stage (9.10km) was held in complete darkness for the leading crews. Other than a few small patches near the finish, predicted early morning fog failed to materialise and enabled Greensmith to pull another 1.9 seconds away from Solberg in the battle for sixth.
 


Sordo carded the fastest time of 5min 05.5sec in his tussle with Ogier for third place and the Spaniard managed to beat the World Champion by 1.7 seconds and move into third by just 0.5 seconds. Neuville was second fastest and his advantage over Evans grew to 17.1 seconds.
 


Riudecanyes (16.35km) was next on the agenda and would also act as the final Power Stage. The opening few kilometres were used on Friday’s Shakedown and Katsuta was the first driver into action at sunrise and he tied to the fraction of a second with Fourmaux.
 


Solans edged to within 3.4 seconds of Solberg’s seventh place, as Greensmith pulled further away from the Swede and strengthened his hold on sixth. A flying Sordo was fastest again and beat Ogier again and the difference in the fight for third place grew to 1.6 seconds.
 


Neuville continued to pull away from Evans before the return to Salou for service and a second fastest time increased the Belgian’s advantage to 20.6 seconds. Camilli extended his WRC2 lead over Gryazin to 12.6 seconds.
 


The re-run of Santa Marina was a different prospect in daylight but Sordo continued to push hard and clocked a time of 5min 02.4sec to heap the pressure on Ogier. The Frenchman ceded another seven-tenths of a second to the Spaniard and headed to the regroup before the final Power Stage trailing the Hyundai driver by 2.3 seconds. Neuville increased his lead over Evans to 21.3 seconds.
 


Power Stage points would determine whether Toyota clinched the Manufacturers’ title with a round to spare. There was rain at the end of the special and it made the last two or three kilometres treacherous for the front-runners.
 


Fourmaux carded an early target of 10min 24.075sec as the rain stopped near the finish and the road surface began to dry before the top six started the special. But the rain had moved towards the start of the stage, as Greensmith beat Fourmaux’s time with a run of 10min 23.885sec.
 


Rovanperä went fastest in improving conditions with a 10min 16.204sec and Ogier beat his Finnish team-mate by 2.326 seconds to hit the front. But Sordo confirmed third place and a 50th career WRC podium with a flying 10min 09.383sec.
 


Evans stayed ahead of Ogier to claim another point in the title race and send the outcome to Monza, but there was no stopping Neuville and a second quickest time confirmed his 15th WRC win.
 



2021 Rally Spain – positions after SS17 (unofficial):


1. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC        2hr 34min 11.8sec
2. Elfyn Evans (GBR)/Scott Martin (GBR) Toyota Yaris WRC                                  2hr 34min 35.9sec
3. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Cándido Carrera (ESP) Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC                        2hr 34min 47.1sec
4. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Toyota Yaris WRC                  2hr 34min 53.9sec
5. Kalle Rovanperä (FIN)/Jonne Halttunen (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC                  2hr 35min 43.6sec
6. Gus Greensmith (GBR)/Chris Patterson (GBR) Ford Fiesta WRC                     2hr 38min 29.1sec
7. Oliver Solberg (NOR)/Craig Drew (GBR) Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC                             2hr 38min 38.5sec
8. Nil Solans (ESP)/Marc Marti (ESP) Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC                                             2hr 38min 46.7sec
9. Eric Camilli (FRA)/Maxime Vilmot (FRA) Citroën C3                                               2hr 44min 01.2sec
10. Nikolay Gryazin (RAF)/Konstantin Aleksandrov (RAF) Škoda Fabia Evo                 2hr 44min 17.7sec
 




Rally leaders


SS1-4            Elfyn Evans   
SS5-17            Thierry Neuville
 


Stage winners


SS1            Elfyn Evans   
SS2            Thierry Neuville/Elfyn Evans
SS3            Elfyn Evans   
SS4            Thierry Neuville
SS5            Thierry Neuville
SS6            Thierry Neuville   
SS7              Thierry Neuville   
SS8            Thierry Neuville   
SS9            Thierry Neuville              
SS10            Thierry Neuville             
SS11            Sébastien Ogier/Thierry Neuville
SS12            Sébastien Ogier            
SS13            Thierry Neuville             
SS14            Dani Sordo
SS15            Dani Sordo
SS16            Dani Sordo
SS17            Dani Sordo
 


- Neil Perkins, photos Hyundai
 
 

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/neuville-second-win-rally-spain---230018.html

17.10.2021 / MaP

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