High Performer – Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe
It was a masterclass show from Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe on Catalunya’s quick tarmac roads. At occasions the pair have been merely untouchable.
The crushing win, their second of the season, was made all of the extra spectacular given the struggles with the Hyundai i20 on Friday morning when Neuville was diminished to utilizing the handbrake to show automotive resulting from power understeer.
Nonetheless, an impressed set-up change that Neuville labelled “radical” remodeled their rally permitting the Belgian to push to a restrict neither of his opponents may match. A string of eight consecutive stage wins from Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon arrange an eventual 24.1-second victory over Toyota’s Elfyn Evans.
In the long run, Neuville received 10 of the 17 phases such was his dominance, which earns him our High Performer award this week. The victory wasn’t with out its final minute drama, as we are going to come onto later, however he stored his cool to ship a maybe certainly one of his greatest victories. It was maybe an surprising win, given a lot of the pre-event focus centered round Sebastien Ogier and Evans’ combat for the championship.
“I’m relieved to get to the tip of this rally, to be sincere. It has been a tricky weekend, and never with out its challenges,” mentioned Neuville.
“We’ve got fought extremely laborious throughout all phases, taking loads of quickest occasions, and steadily extending our benefit.
“The end result itself in all probability doesn’t present how a lot we’ve needed to work. We had a great clear run till the ultimate stage; all the things was working completely as much as that time.”
Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC
Picture by: Toyota Racing
Honourable point out – Elfyn Evans
Heading into the rally Evans knew if Ogier outscored him by six factors the championship could be over, so he needed to ship to maintain his titles hopes alive. The Welshman produced a gusty drive and after Friday morning appeared an actual contender for victory, main by 7.9s over Neuville.
Nonetheless, whereas Neuville unearthed a set-up to reinforce his velocity, Evans’ adjustments to enhance his Yaris on highway turning into more and more dirtier, went in the other way.
Nevertheless it his efficiency to complete second needs to be recommended given the strain he was underneath. After ending second two spots forward of rival Ogier, the Brit has a shot on the world title at Rally Monza subsequent month, solely 17 factors adrift.
Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC
Picture by: Toyota Racing
Rally Spain was affected by shut shaves because the WRC’s greatest engaged full assault mode, pushing themselves to absolutely the restrict.
Nonetheless, maybe the most important escape got here earlier than the ultimate stage of the rally. Neuville appeared to be on his strategy to a cushty victory when his i20 refused to begin previous to the ultimate stage. Flames have been appear coming from the rear of the automotive as Neuville and Wydaeghe tried to resolve a state motor difficulty.
In the long run, they managed to push the automotive to a rigour space the place they acquired additional assist from marshals. Fortunately they prevented snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Evans additionally produced arguably the save of the season on Stage 5 when he took a reduce which spat his Yaris into the kerb on the skin of the nook. A wild tankslapper adopted and solely cat-like reflexes and a little bit of wheel wrestling saved what may have determined the the 2022 WRC title.
“It was a fairly large second,” mentioned Evans. “I simply bought caught out by the gravel and he or she simply took off.”
Toyota teammate Kalle Rovanpera was even perhaps luckier when he misjudged a left hand nook leading to a wild tour throughout a subject, narrowly avoiding a highway signal earlier than rejoining the highway.
For the unflappable Finn to label it “perhaps one of many greatest [moment] I’ve ever had” is testomony to what occurred.
Dani Sordo, Candido Carrera, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Picture by: Fabien Dufour / Hyundai Motorsport
Workforce of the Week – Hyundai
For the second occasion in a row, Hyundai is our workforce of the week after clinching a formidable double podium, as native favorite Dani Sordo adopted Neuville house to say his second rostrum of the season.
The one-three for the Korean marque additionally stored their slim producers’ title hopes intact forward of subsequent month’s title decider at Rally Monza.
Barring the starter motor hiccup for Neuville, the Hyundais didn’t miss a beat with 4 of the 5 entries inside the highest eight. 2C Competitors pair of Oliver Solberg and debutant Nil Solans drove cleanly to seventh and eighth.
Set-up calls have been additionally spot on, notably for Neuville, who credited Friday’s change at noon service as one of many keys to victory.
“I’m delighted for my workforce as a result of we now have as soon as once more fought till the very finish,” mentioned Hyundai boss Andrea Adamo.
“It has been a tricky rally, and a Energy Stage that solely thriller writers may have scripted – rain and late drama that generated loads of feelings.
“We’ve got achieved all the things we may have this weekend. Thierry and Martijn have been superb from begin to end, and so they totally deserve this win. What a composed and guaranteed efficiency from them.
“Dani and Candido [Carrera] have additionally completed one thing particular. It will have been simple to settle into a cushty rhythm on the ultimate morning, however they pushed laborious to say third place and a clear sweep of stage wins. Full assault.
“We’ve got managed to increase the championship battle till the season finale at Monza, which no less than provides the followers one thing to see – we combat till the tip.”
Co-driving is probably probably the most difficult roles in motorsport and comes with loads of duty on ones shoulders to information a few of the world’s greatest drivers by way of the hardest roads as quick as humanly attainable. It’s an fringe of the seat job the place the slightest hesitation may end up in catastrophe.
It will need to have been twice as troublesome for Oliver Solberg’s co-driver Craig Drew, who suffered some discomfort on stage, and was unaware it was being captured for a worldwide viewers by the in-car microphone.
Fortunately, Craig may see the humorous facet of the second that lit up social media throughout the weekend.
Rally followers are a particular breed once more that may do nearly something to realize that good view.
With just one occasion remaining for this present technology of WRC vehicles dubbed a “trendy Group B” it is truthful to say drivers and followers are going to overlook them. Debutant Nil Solans summed up completely the joys these vehicles can ship.
Adrien Fourmaux, Alexandre Coria, M-Sport Ford WRT Ford Fiesta WRC
Picture by: M-Sport
Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Picture by: McKlein / Motorsport Images
Takamoto Katsuta, Keaton Williams, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC
Picture by: Toyota Racing