Rally Spain: Hyundai wins, world champion gets tickets

Sébastien Ogier has to wait for his eighth world title. Fourth place in the Rally Spain is not enough for the Toyota works driver from France to win early. Teammate Elfyn Evans crossed the finish line two places ahead and reduced his deficit to 17 points. The penultimate World Championship round of the season ended with the victory of Belgian Hyundai works driver Thierry Neuville.

However, it hung by the proverbial thread. The engine of Neuville’s Hyundai i20 WRC (1.6-liter turbo gasoline engine, around 380 hp, all-wheel drive) did not start before the journey to the very last special stage. Since outside help was forbidden at this point, co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe had to push the four-wheel drive alone – which he actually succeeded in doing.

With a flame from the exhaust the engine came to life and the two Belgians were able to finish the rally. “We had a problem-free weekend – until shortly before the finish line,” said Neuville, summarizing the way to his second win of the season. “I wouldn’t have needed the stress before the last test. But luckily we were able to solve the problem. “

As with his home World Championship rally in Ypres, which was also held on asphalt, Neuville was in a class of its own at the Rally Spain. Only Elfyn Evans, the winner of the Rally Finland, was initially able to stand up to him. With four best times on Saturday’s seven special stages, Neuville finally set itself apart from the Toyota driver from Wales. In the end, his lead was 24.1 seconds.

Defending champion Sébastien Ogier held third place for a long time. During the rainy last stage, however, he had to bow to the Spaniard Dani Sordo in the second factory Hyundai. “Maybe I should have risked more,” says Ogier self-critically. “But it wasn’t worth it to me. Third or fourth place in Spain – that doesn’t make a big difference to me in the title duel with Elfyn. ”

As with his home World Championship rally in Ypres, which was also held on asphalt, Neuville was in a class of its own at the Rally Spain.

Ogier’s lead has melted to 17 points, with a maximum of 30 points at the season finale in Monza (November 19-21). The title duel in the manufacturers’ standings between championship leader Toyota and rival Hyundai is also still open.

Explosive: The Toyota star narrowly escaped a ban for the World Cup final at the Rally Spain. Reason: an offense in public traffic. The Frenchman already had to pay 5000 euros at the Rally Croatia. This time it was about an incident at a roundabout: There he passed another car on the right hard shoulder.

Background: At the point there was a traffic jam because of a police check. Ogier misinterpreted the signs of a police officer. A police spokesman confirmed the information provided by the reigning world champion. The FIA ​​stewards were lenient and punished Ogier with 2000 euros.

Armin Kremer scored a respectable success. With his 22-year-old daughter Ella as co-driver, the former German and European champion finished fifth in the private driver category WRC3. The biggest problem was getting used to the Citroën C3 Rally2 (1.6-liter turbo gasoline engine, around 290 hp, all-wheel drive), which Kremer had never driven in a competition before. “The car can definitely do more than I dared,” laughed Kremer after a smooth drive. “Above all, the high cornering speeds make things very demanding.”
On the other hand, Fabian Kreim and co-driver Tobias Braun, who competed in a technically comparable VW Polo, had bad luck. After a strong start, they had to give up because of a cracked exhaust manifold.

Result Rally Spain

1. Thierry Neuville / Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC), 2: 34: 11.8 hours
2. Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC), +24.1 seconds
3. Dani Sordo / Cándido Carrera (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC), +35.3 seconds
4. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC) +42.1 seconds
5. Kalle Rovanperä / Jonne Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC), +1: 31.8 minutes
6. Gus Greensmith / Chris Patterson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4: 17.3 minutes

World Championship stand after 11 of 12 rallies

1. Sébastien Ogier (Toyota Yaris WRC), 204 points
2. Elfyn Evans (Toyota Yaris WRC), 187 points
3. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC), 159 points
4. Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota Yaris WRC), 140 points
5. Ott Tänak (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC), 128 points
6. Craig Breen (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC), 76 points

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