M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen showed flashes of speed on RallyRACC – Rally de España’s gravel stages, but ended the day in seventh and eighth places with some work to do as the action turns to asphalt tomorrow.
A couple of half spins cost Evans and co-driver Scott Martin vital seconds through the opening loop, but a strong run through the first pass of, ‘La Fatarella-Vilalba,’ (SS3) promoted them to fourth place going into the afternoon.
Starting the second loop just 10 seconds adrift of the lead, the pairing were on a mission but couldn’t muster the same rhythm and suffered a misfire through the final stage (SS6). Dropping more than 30 seconds, they ended the day 44 seconds adrift of the lead and will have to work hard when the competition turns to Tarmac.
Teemu Suninen and Jarmo Lehtinen had a solid run through the first two stages in both the morning and the afternoon – setting the second fastest time through the second pass of, ‘Gandesa,’ to prove the young Finn’s pace on gravel.
But the Tarmac section through the, ‘La Fatarella-Vilalba,’ stage would prove his undoing. Pushing too hard and taking too much out of his tyres through the morning loop, he was then too cautious over the afternoon; but remains keen to show his pace again tomorrow.
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said: “We have shown some flashes of speed today, but at this level you need the consistency and I have to say that we’ve not had that today. Elfyn had a good first loop and his time through the first pass of, ‘La Fatarella-Vilalba,’ was really impressive, but he didn’t have that same rhythm this afternoon and then suffered a misfire which really set him back. It was nice to see Teemu’s face when he set that second fastest time this afternoon, but he knows that he still has some work to do when it comes to managing the tyres through a mixed-surface stage. But he’ll get there, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he does tomorrow. Finally, I have to mention our mechanics who are delivering another brilliant performance during the biggest service of the year this evening – transforming our Fiestas from their gravel to Tarmac specification in just 75 minutes. Working seamlessly as one, it really is great to watch their teamwork as they change and check all of the key components.”
Elfyn Evans (7th) said: “It was shaping up to be a pretty good fight, but it didn’t go our way in the end. We had some speed at times, but then we had a pretty bad misfire on the last stage. We managed to change a few things on the road section and get it going again so it’s just one of those things – and we’ll need to make sure we’re on it from the word go when the action moves to Tarmac tomorrow.”
Teemu Suninen (8th) said: “We found a good rhythm this afternoon and I had a really good feeling with the car. I tried to set some good times, and I was happy that we managed to do that. But I wasn’t so good at managing the tyres on the long stage. On the first pass I pushed too hard, and on the second I didn’t push enough. It’s something I need to improve, but I know it’s a learning curve so I will make some good notes and do some good homework.”
1. Sébastien Loeb / Daniel Elena (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 1:21:24.7 2. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1.7 3. Dani Sordo / Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +7.6 4. Kris Meeke / Sebastian Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +13.0 5. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +21.7 6. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 30.1+ 7. Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +44.0 8. Teemu Suninen / Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +51.8