Ouch! This was a challenging route near the Spanish city of Salou on the Rally Catalunya 2022. Kalle Rovanperä promised us battle, and he delivered! Hyundai Motorsport tried and it is worth it to call the entire team “lions”. The most memorable part of WRC Spain is the double win as Sébastien Ogier won Rally Catalunya 2022 while Toyota Gazoo Racing won the FIA World Rally Championship manufacturers’ championship! The fortune-tellers didn’t tell us anything ahead of time.
Nothing was obvious ahead of the Rally Catalunya
Our cards were already on the table. It was expected that Sébastien Ogier would dominate the Spanish round of the WRC. And yes he will win. Because there is no driver in the WRC line-up who is so relaxed and eager to win in Salou. In his last rally in Spain in 2020, Ogier had a dramatic crash. He was the leader and he was crazy about it. On the Power stage, he came across a large stone. Back to Rally Catalunya 2022. The FIA WRC title belongs to Kalle Rovanperä already in New Zealand. So, there is nothing to feel nervous about, especially for Sébastien Ogier.
Rally drivers were well prepared
Remarkable as it is so rich in punctures, Rally Catalunya this year has been very calm. The exception was Gus Greensmith and his crashed SS4. In this case, the time between the red flags was so long that we even forgot when we started. Craig Breen, driving another purple Puma for M-Sport, also crashed. On Sunday morning at 5am, it was still too dark to drive on SS16 in Spain. It was tricky.
All of the drivers did a good job no matter how difficult the route was. There were enough opportunities to make mistakes at every metre in this asphalt challenge. Most of them probably tried to avoid risking. That was the main point that Hyunday motorsport driver Thierry Neuville stressed after the pre-final stage on Sunday. During the weekend, his speed was phenomenal. In most of the legs of Rally Catalunya 2022, he was among the top three fastest. As a result, Thierry Neuville finished second.
If Ogier hadn’t competed in the Spanish adventure of the WRC, Neuville might have made a hat-trick, as he has won here in Salou twice in a row. Who could battle against “Maestro of speed” Ogier? Well, bad luck.
Ott Tanak’s bad luck
Ott Tänak started Rally Catalunya with positive emotions. Although he faced all types of technical problems, every expectation was a failure. The objective was to secure fourth place. Already on Sunday his gap was 16 sec behind. Tänak kept his target and headed for fifth-placed Dani Sordo.
The grand prize was promised by Kalle Rovanperä.
That’s why he started Rally Catalunya. He finished most legs in the top five. Although, he was just one step behind Thierry Neuviille. There were just a few seconds between them. Anyway Rovanperä’ strong third place confirmed a double podium for Toyota and made the Japanese marque’s second-successive manufacturers’ crown with one round to spare.
Sébastien Ogier on rally Catalunya 2022
There were no empty seats at the award ceremony. This is because race fans in this country love Sébastien Ogier and were so happy to see him succeed that they literally overhugged him. That is for the reason.
For WRC 2022, Ogier has been a part-time driver with Toyota Gazoo Racing.
He just came to win. And that is what he did, when he posted a trio of fastest times across the middle of the three-day asphalt rally!
In addition to Toyota’s title, it is Sébastien Ogier’s maiden victory of the WRC’s hybrid era and the 55th victory in his pocket. What magic arithmetic!
But still, there is no time to rest, as after two weeks we will be preparing for the final battle in Japan, the homeland of Toyota Gazoo Racing. It is one of the most coveted events in the FIA WRC calendar 2022. This is because the last time the World Rally Championship was held in Japan was more than ten years ago, in 2010.