The opening day of Rally de España served up a challenging leg for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team. After a solid morning for the team, the afternoon began brightly with a stage win for Jari-Matti Latvala. Unfortunately he was unable to start the final stage of the day after a strong impact under his car resulted a lubrication system failure and forced him to stop for the day. Once the car was back to service, the team investigated the damage and made a decision not to restart tomorrow due to the severity of the damage.
The first day of the rally was held mostly on gravel roads, before the final two days of the event are staged on asphalt. Juho Hänninen sits in eighth place overnight after relatively clean day in his Yaris WRC on a rally he has not contested since 2011. Esapekka Lappi is in 10th position. He was hampered by a braking issue on the morning’s final stage but showed good performance during the afternoon, claiming the third best time on SS4 Caseres.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team principal)
“In the beginning all three drivers were struggling a bit in terms of traction but then they made some changes in service and things were looking far better. Jari-Matti set a fastest time and I’m confident he could have done really well but the bad luck seems to be following him around. I know that he was feeling very confident about the asphalt but unfortunately we will not get to see what he could have achieved. That’s motorsport. Hopefully Juho and Esapekka can do well and show our performance on asphalt.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“In the morning it was difficult and the car was oversteering a lot, but we made some changes and things were starting to get better. We won stage four. I made a couple of mistakes in stage five and then we noticed we were losing oil, and before we got to stage six the engine stopped and wouldn’t start again. At the time we didn’t know whether anything was damaged but sadly it will not be possible to restart tomorrow.”
Juho Hänninen (Driver car 11)
“Today was not as good as I had hoped; I lost too much time to the top guys. I wasn’t fully confident, I was hesitating in some places, and you can easily start to lose time with that. I was struggling a little with the rhythm when the grip was changing. Tomorrow we need to make it better. There are some really nice stages coming up so I’m looking forward to that.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 12)
“This morning I was happy with the balance of the car but then on the last stage I overheated the brakes and lost them completely towards the end. In service we made some changes to the suspension and on the first stage this afternoon, which was really smooth, it helped us to set a good time. But I really struggled on the last one with the dampers in these settings. We were a bit unlucky today but at least we have done the stages twice, which is good experience, and tomorrow will be a new start for everybody on asphalt.”
End of Day 1 (Friday):
1 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 1h11m56.3s
2 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1.4s
3 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) +3.0s
4 Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +6.3s
5 Mads Østberg/Torstein Eriksen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +7.1s
6 Dani Sordo/Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +10.8s
7 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +12.8s
8 Juho Hänninen/Kaj Lindström (Toyota Yaris WRC) +33.6s
9 Stephane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau (Citroen C3 WRC): +1m02.2s
10 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m05.5s
Retired Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +7m08.8s
(Results as of 22:00 on Friday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Tonight the teams have to transform the cars from gravel specification into asphalt specification ready for the remaining two days of action. They have an extended service period in which to do this, but 75 minutes (instead of the usual 45 minutes) is still not a lot of time given the amount of components to be changed, which include the suspension, brakes and differentials. Gravel tyres will then be fitted, and in the morning the drivers will have to adapt their driving style to the much grippier surface underneath them.
The all-asphalt element of the rally begins with the El Montmell stage at 08:00, an hour after the cars leave service in Salou. El Pont d’Armentera and Savallà follow, and three tests are repeated in the afternoon before a street stage on the seafront in Salou.
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