What a tough task at the Rally Catalunya! The speed test of the WRC Spain was supposed to decide the fate of the World Championship titles. Like a judge of the racing order it was necessary to choose the driver of the year and the winning team, but this did not succeed! The challenge here not only gathered masses of fans, but also developed into a real thriller, the suspense of which is still difficult to overcome.
FIA WRC Rally Catalunya logical continuation of the championship.
Logically Sebastien Ogier had races as fast during the season as he should finish Rally Catalunya as an eight-time champion. Also, Toyota Gazoo Racing pretend to win the manufacturers’ championship by the power of the astonishingly fastest Kalle Rovanpera, Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta alongside Ogier. But it was as far as the ideal plan, because no one in the Hyundai Team would give it easy.
Ready Driver One!
At the end of every racing season, only the strongest drivers compete. It’s not only about the title, but also about the honor of the team. Jari-Matti Latvala, despite being his debut season as Toyota Gazoo Racing boss, knows how to negotiate with the drivers. In the front row sit the red and white Yarises of Kale Rovanpera, Elfyn Evans and of course Sebastien Ogier! The Hyundai team in turn places the best Dani Sordo, Thierry Neuville and Ott Tanak in the seats of the Hyundai I20.
Rally Catalunya – the lights are on green.
On the very first day Toyota loses Takamoto Katsuta on SS1 due to mysterious circumstances. This is a minus for the team – a defeat in the points game. As it turned out later, there were problems with the stenogram. The fight heats up, while Ott Tanak meets a tree stump on SS4. This encounter ends with the Estonian driver retiring from the Spain game and the defeat for the Hyundai Motorsport team. Not at all the message that Ott would like to receive on his birthday!
Yaris of Elfin Evans takes matters into his own hands and races through the mud and stumbles. The mistake that almost led to his departure from the game. However, the Briton miraculously catches his Yaris and tells the rally car that it’s all about winning! Rally Catalunya 2021 continues when Thierry Neuville enters the game. Belgian begins to assert himself with SS5 and shows his fastest time.
Toyota Gazoo Racing VS Hyundai Motorsport
When Thierry Neuville realizes that the honor of the entire Hyundai Motorsport is at stake and Ott Tanak’s departure means minus one in the team standings, he accelerates better than after two pitchers of Red Bull and sets the fastest time in the next three SS on Saturday.
When in Toyota Gazoo Racing realize that it is impossible to leave everything as it is, the team’s heavy artillery – Sebastian Ogier goes into battle with Hyundai drivers. Like a crouching tiger, he seems to be waiting patiently for his moment of glory. By the 10th SS he begins to fend off Spanish star Dani Sordo, and by the 12th SS he shows the best time.
Dani Sordo reacts to this audacity and understands that they have nothing to lose with his Hyundai I20car, but out of the blue finds an extra time and lands on a confident third place. Thierry Neuville, who is simply unstoppable, winks at him, through Elfin Evans. The Belgian races for two at once – for himself and for Ott Tanak.
The Sunday morning starts very nerve-racking. Toyota Gazoo Racing’s plan “vini, vici, vidi” wasn’t that easy. Despite the logical eighth title for Sebastien Ogier, everything is not that easy. Shortly afterwards, we will see the Frenchman a little relaxed. He is the one who is sure to have reached the maximum. As Dani Sordo, who seemed absolutely calm.
Rally Catalunya – the main battle
Thierry Neuville not only drive as for two, he also survived as for two! Problems with the starter led to his co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe pushing the i20 into the regrouping before the stage. The crew managed the restart and passed the test without any further problems, but the incident visibly shook Neuville up.
It seemed that everything would be decided on Sunday, but everyone insisted on their advantage, so the line had to be drawn through the power stage. Neuville, Evans, Sordo, Ogier – nobody is willing to give up, only the best are in the front row. At the beginning of the last SS the drama intensifies. It starts to rain and slippery roads can lead in the wrong direction, not to the coveted points!
Sebastien Ogier could not stop the secret ace of the Hyundai team, Dani Sordo. He tried a number of set-up changes in vain, but had enough speed to stay ahead of a storming Sordo. Spaniard won all four special stages on Sunday to outclasse Ogier and claim the last podium spot. Dani Sordo, delighted for the rally fans in Spain, took third place. Evans felt uncomfortable on dirty roads as the smooth asphalt speed tests were tackled for the second time in the hills of the Costa Daurada. Althought, Welshman narrowed the gap to Ogier. Elfyn finished second on the podium. Thierry Neuville won this rally Catalunya deservedly.
Against all predictions, Neuville and Sordo thus defended the honor of the team with the 1: 2 Power Stage paid in the bonus points. The fight for the manufacturer’s crown between the leaders Toyota Gazoo Racing and Hyundai Motorsport enters the last round in Monza.
We congratulate Ott Tanak on his birthday and wish him new all the best and new victories, especially in Italy!