After the first day of RallyRACC Catalunya-Rally de España (24/10/–27/10/2019), the second and third placed ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo crews Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (FIN/FIN) and Jan Kopecký/Jan Hloušek (CZE/CZE) are well on track to prematurely secure the WRC 2 Pro manufacturers’ title of the FIA World Rally Championship 2019 for ŠKODA Motorsport. Meanwhile inside the WRC 2 for private teams, the category’s overall leaders Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (FRA/FRA) hold top spot in another ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo, getting one step closer to the respective championship.
The RallyRACC Catalunya-Rally de España, which is the full name of the thirteenth round of the FIA World Rally Championship 2019, offered a special challenge for the crews. The Spanish WRC round is the championship’s only mixed surface rally. While during the rest of the weekend tarmac awaits, the first leg on Friday (25 October) was held on gravel roads with only some short tarmac sections.
For the ŠKODA works crews Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen and Jan Kopecký/Jan Hloušek the task was clear right from the start: Their only mission was to secure enough points for ŠKODA Motorsport to prematurely win the WRC 2 Pro manufacturers’ title of the FIA World Rally Championship 2019.
From the first special stage, Kalle Rovanperä was fighting with Citroën’s Mads Østberg for the lead of the WRC 2 Pro category. After the three stages of Friday morning, the Finnish ŠKODA youngster was in second position behind his rival and third among the 26 R5 cars. Meanwhile teammate Jan Kopecký was third of the WRC 2 Pro category ahead of Ford driver Gus Greensmith. Kalle Rovanperä started the afternoon loop with a harder tyre compound and confessed: “Now my feeling with the tyres is much better and the driving is more enjoyable. Hopefully, all the rest of the afternoon stages will be better for us.” Still the newly crowned WRC 2 Pro Champion* finished the day in second position of the WRC 2 Pro category and was looking forward to the two days to come. “I hope, we can improve during the remaining two legs on tarmac.”
Inside the WRC 2 category for private teams, championship leaders Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (FRA/FRA) again deliver a stunning performance. The French ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo crew defended the lead in the highly competitive category and finished the day second among the R5 competitors. With a win, they would already have one hand at the championship trophy.
On Saturday and Sunday (26/27 October), all stages are entirely run on asphalt. In total, the teams have to face 17 special stages adding up to 325.56 kilometres of racing against the clock. The winner will reach the podium at the rally’s host town Salou in the south of Catalonia’s capital Barcelona at 14h01 local time on Sunday (27 October).
*subject to the publication of the official results by the FIA
Standings RallyRACC Catalunya after leg 1 (WRC 2 Pro/WRC 2)
1. Østberg/Eriksen (NOR/NOR), Citroën C3 R5, 1:24:24.5. h*
2. Loubet/Landais (FRA/FRA), ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo, +14.8 sec.
3. Camilli/Veillas (FRA/FRA), Citroën C3 R5, +16.3 sec.
4. Veiby/Andersson (NOR/SWE), VW Polo GTI R5, +37.0 sec.
5. Rovanperä/Halttunen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo, +41.2 sec.*
6. Kajetanovicz/Szcepaniak (POL/POL), VW Polo GTI R5, +44.3 sec.
7. Gryazin/Fedorov (RUS/RUS), ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo, +48.1 sec
8. Kopecký/Hloušek (CZE/CZE), ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo, +1:07.1 min.*
*Factory nominated crews eligible to score points in the WRC 2 Pro category
Number of the day: 12
12 ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo and ŠKODA FABIA R5 among the 26 R5 cars on the entry list make ŠKODA again the strongest brand of the category.
The calendar of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2 Pro)
Great Britain 03/10/–06/10/2019