Rally Spain – Day 3
Toyota’s Ott Tanak is the new FIA World Rally Drivers Champion along with Co-driver Martin Jeveoja!
The pair claimed the title in Rally Spain with a 2nd position on the podium and a power stage win, the power stage approach typified Tanak’s approach all year and is a fitting tribute and confirmation that fortune does favor the brave. Well done to both!
The Toyota driver was a class above the rest and consistently fast with 6 wins out 13 rounds during the year, with only the Kennard’s Hire Rally Australia in November left to finish the WRC season. The other drivers at times had to shake their heads at Tanaks and the Toyota Yaris’s speed. It was also sensationally revealed during Rally Spain that Tanak and Jeveoja may be heading to Hyundai for the 2020 WRC season!
Former 6 times drivers champion, Sebastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia driving a Citroen C3 could only manage 8th place after steering issues on Day 1 put a dampener on them defending their drivers title. It must be said that the Citroen was hard to drive at times and a little unreliable at other times and ended up frustrating the Champion.
Hyundai’s Neuville and Gilsoul were victorious in Spain on Sunday Finishing 17 secs ahead of the fast finishing Tanak and Dani Sordo taking 3rd position on the podium.
Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville and Nicholas Gilsoul drove well all year and showed class to come back from a terrifying crash in Chile which changed the driver’s leaderboard dramatically, the Hyundai I20 was severely damaged and had to retire leading to no points for that round.
Hyundai increased the lead to 18 points over Toyota in the manufacturer’s championship with only the Australia round to go.
Hyundai increase lead in manufacturers championship.
Similar to the 2018 season the same three contenders Tanak, Ogier and Neuville dominated and claimed victory in all rallies with the only exception being Rally Italy in which Dani Sordo driving a Hyundai claimed the top step of the podium.
Special mention must be made of Sebastien Loeb’s and Daniel Elena efforts in 2019, to come back in certain rallies and be so competitive after a hiatus of driving at the elite level was truly remarkable and must have left some of the current world’s best world’s best rally drivers bewildered.
Rally Spain – Day 2.
WRC Champion Elect – Toyota Ott Tanak ?
Estonian and Toyota driver Ott tanak took another giant step to assuring his first drivers’ championship in the WRC. Tanak drove masterfully and within himself to win 4 stages on day 2 of rally Spain, at the end of the day this had leapfrogged 9-time world champion Sebastien Loeb for third place behind Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo.
Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville did his best to keep his faint championship dream alive by winning 3 stages on day 2. Neuville leads Team mate Sordo by 21.5 secs who has only a 3.1 sec buffer on Toyota driver and world champion elect, Tanak.
Hyundai in Strong position in Manufacturers championship after day 2.
Hyundai did well in the manufacturers championship after day 2 by holding 1st,2nd and 4th positions.
Toyota Driver Kris Meeke was left to rue a high-speed mistake into a left-hand corner that resulted in removing his rear right wheel which left Latvala and Tanak to fight Hyundai for valuable manufacturers points.
Sebastien Loeb found the switch to driving on tarmac not to his liking and slipped from first overnight to 4th position and the end of day 2.
6 time World champion Sebastien Ogier finds himself down in 8th position and a whopping 4.09 secs behind the leader.
WRC Rally Spain – Day 1.
Rally Spain, what a contrasting day for Champions, one finds himself (9 times champion) leading the event and the other sees his aspirations for a seventh consecutive championship disappear.
You cannot write a script for the world Rally Championship, you have Hyundai 1st,2nd and 3rd after day 1 in Spain, you have 9-time world champion and semi-retired Sebastien Loeb leading by nearly 2 seconds.
9 time world champion Sebastien Loeb in Rally Australia 2011 resumes normal operations in Wrc Rally Spain 2019 – Leading after day 1 !
Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo placed 2nd and third after day 1.
This bodes well for Hyundai in the manufacturers Championship which they currently lead over Toyota by a slender 8 points.
Drivers World championship leader by 28pts, Toyota’s Ott Tanak drove like the champion elect and steered clear of any drama and takes a step closer to claiming his maiden driver’s championship.
Citroen, again had a day to forget with reliability issues with both Ogier and Lappi’s C3’s.
Citroen – a day to forget after relaiability issues cruelly dealt a champ[ion a knock out blow ?
Power steering failure on 6 times world champion Sebastien Ogier’s Citroen C3 was a cruel blow to a great champion and appears to have robbed the Australian fans of the WRC, a final WRC round decider.
A deciding round of the World Rally Championship now looks unlikely when the drivers descend down under for the final round of the WRC and the final visit to the NSW- Mid north Coast town Of Coffs Harbor for the Kennard’s Hire Rally Australia on the 14th- 17th November.
Volkswagen competing in Rally Australia in 2013 – Last time for Coffs harbor ?
A lot can still happen in Rally Spain and you write a champion off, at your own peril!
Rally Spain – Day 2.
To Be Continued.
Words and Pictures – Terry Hill