· Five years later, the French duo won again in WRC round
· Exciting final day in which the winner was decided in the very last stage
· Sébastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville will battle for the drivers' title in Australia
Extraordinary last day of the 54 RallyRACC-Catalunya-COSTA DAURADA, Rally de España 2018, second-to-last round of the World Championship, that was only decided in the very last stage after a dramatic day. After winning every year from 2005 to 2012, Sébastien Loeb-Daniel Elena (Citroën C3 WRC) achieved his ninth victory at the RallyRACC, an amazing feat, as this duo is not currently participating in this season and had chosen the Spanish round as one of the three in which they competed this season. This victory is also the second consecutive achieved by Citroën at the Catalan round, after the one Meeke-Nagle took last year.
The fight for the drivers world title will be focused now on Sébastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC), who took an excellent second place at the RallyRACC, and Thierry Neuville-Nicolas Gilsoul, who lost the third place in the last stage after damaging the wheel of his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. That promoted Elfyn Evans-Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) to a podium position with only five tenths ahead of the Belgian duo.
Without yesterday's rain and still with no light for the first participants, the 55 cars that started this morning from PortAventura World faced the last day with 61,70 timed kilometres ahead. The day was full of doubts and excitement, as the three main contenders to the win, Jari-Matti Latvala, Sébastien Ogier and Sébastien Loeb, had a hard battle: they all wanted to win the 54 RallyRACC.
The day started with a first pass through the Riudecanyes (16.35 km) and Santa Marina (14.50 km) stages, where Sébastien Loeb-Daniel Elena (Citroën C3 WRC) set the fastest time, taking the lead after this first loop and leaving Jari-Matti Latvala-Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC), 7.1 seconds behind, and Sébastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) at 10,8.
With all options open before the second loop over the same two stages, Riudecanyes had a surprising winning duo, Elfyn Evans-Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC), who took the fifth place overall ahead of the Spanish Dani Sordo-Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC). Nevertheless, the highligh in that stage was a spin by Loeb at the Coll de la Teixeta roundabout, where he lost some seconds but kept the lead, as well as a puncture for Latvala, this time in the left front tyre, that took him definitively out of the fight for victory.
At Santa Marina, who was also the Power Stage, Loeb and Ogier met for the final duel and the last stage could not be more exciting: Ott Tänak was the fastest and took the 5 extra points. But the drivers fighting for victory were right behind him, Sébastien Ogier second and Sébastien Loeb third, which allowed the Citroën driver to take the win, for the ninth time at the RallyRACC, a historical feat that no one else had achieved in the 54 editions held.
Thierry Neuville lost the third final position in the last few meters, as he damaged his rear tyre, so Elfyn Evans, who was fourth in the Power Stage, completed the overall podium. Dani Sordo, who took one additional point in this last stage, was not able to do any better than the sixth place, ahead of Ott Tänak, who is now definitively out of the fight for the drivers' title. At WRC2, where Jan Kopecký is already champion, second consecutive win of the season for Kalle Rovanperä-Jonne Halttunen (Skoda Fabia R5) while the Spanish duo Nil Solans-Marc Martí (Ford Fiesta R5) finished fifth of their class after suffering a puncture when they were fighting for the first position. On the other hand, Enrico Brazzoli-Luca Beltrame (Peugeot 208 VTI R2) took the WRC3 win.
The drivers World Championship title, as well as the constructors' title, will be decided at the Australian Rally, thirteenth and last round of the FIA World Rally Championship, which will take place from November 15 to 18. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) and Sébastien Ogier (Ford) will fight for the first position, while Hyundai and Toyota will battle for the constructors' title. The RallyRACC finished its 54 edition with a great success and a huge amount of public. The 55 edition will take place from October 24 to 27, 2019.
54 RallyRACC Final Classification
1-Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Citroën C3 WRC), 3h12'08"0
2-Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC), at 2,9"
3-Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC), at 16,5"
4-Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC), at 17"
5-Daniel Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC), at 18,6"
6-Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC), at 1'03"9
7-Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC), at 1'16"6
8-Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC), 1'26"4
9-Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroën C3 WRC), at 2'07"
10-Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC), at 2'48"2
11-Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC), at 3'52"
12-Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Skoda Fabia R5, 1st WRC2), at 8'39"6
13-Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5, 2nd WRC2), at 8'48"1
14-Petter Solberg/Veronica Engan (VW Polo GTI R5, 3rd WRC2), at 10'16"2
15-Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Szcepaniak (Ford Fiesta R5, 4th WRC2), at 10'39"2
16-Nil Solans/Marc Martí (Ford Fiesta R5, 5th WRC2), at 11'38"9
34-Enrico Brazzoli/Luca Beltrame (Peugeot 208 VTI R2, 1st WRC3), at 46'10"3
Up to 53 classified from 70 that started