The switch from gravel to asphalt for the second day of Rally de España was followed by a superb performance for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team. Juho Hänninen won two stages and was second-fastest of everybody across the day as he climbed up from eighth place to fourth overall. Esapekka Lappi also showed the strong pace of the Yaris WRC as he rose from 10th to sixth place.
Hänninen, who has not competed in Spain for six years, began the day with the third-fastest time on El Montmell before he won the El Pont d'Armentera and Savalla stages. Lappi made a more cautious start to the day, having had his pre-event asphalt testing affected by rain, but he was joint-second fastest on the morning’s final stage and then missed out on a stage win on SS10 by only 0.1 seconds.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team principal)
“It has been an absolutely brilliant day for us. To see how strong the performance of the car is on asphalt gives us big confidence for the future. I have to say well done to the whole team, as they have done some incredible work in this area. Everything looks really promising. Juho is driving really well. It might be hard for him to reach the podium tomorrow but I’m sure he will try his best. Esapekka too has made really good progress in conditions that were completely different to his test.”
Juho Hänninen (Driver car 11)
“It has been a really good day. I was a bit disappointed after yesterday but I knew that the asphalt would be better for me. Even still, I was a bit surprised with how good the stage times were this morning. I was really, really happy with the car and I didn’t need to change anything in service. I drove the afternoon the same as in the morning and it felt good. I haven’t really been looking at the overall classification and it could be difficult to catch the guys ahead, but I haven’t given up and I will push tomorrow for sure.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 12)
“On the first stage this morning I was not confident enough, as the grip was much higher than in my test, but step-by-step during the morning I found the confidence. I wasn’t completely happy with the set-up but we managed to improve it during service and the car felt even better in the afternoon, especially on the penultimate stage: it was the best that the car has ever been on asphalt. So I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. We will try to carry on in the same way and maybe get some points on the Power Stage.”
End of Day 2 (Saturday):
1 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) 2h16m21.1s
2 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +13.0s
3 Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +14.5s
4 Juho Hänninen/Kaj Lindström (Toyota Yaris WRC) +34.0s
5 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +53.2s
6 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m22.1s
7 Mads Østberg/Torstein Eriksen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m39.8s
8 Stephane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau (Citroen C3 WRC): +2m00.7s
9 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3m15.1s
10 Eric Camilli/Benjamin Veillas (Ford Fiesta R5) +5m40.8s
Retired after day 1 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC)
(Results as of 18:00 on Saturday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Spain’s most successful rally driver of all time is Carlos Sainz, who won two World Rally Championship titles with Toyota in 1990 and 1992. His first regular drive in the WRC came in the Celica GT-Four ST165, which he used to claim four victories and the drivers’ title in 1990. After five more wins in 1991, he returned with a new version of the Celica in 1992 and reclaimed his crown. Among his four rally wins that season was the first of two victories he scored on his home round, Rally Spain. Sainz would later return to compete for Toyota again in 1998 and 1999.
There are still six more asphalt stages to come on the final day. The first crew will leave service in Salou at 6:15 and won’t return until the rally finishes, with only a remote refuel coming in-between two loops of three stages. The Santa Marina test will serve as the rally-ending Power Stage at 12:18.
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