The RallyRACC Catalunya started on Thursday evening in Barcelona with the fabulous street stage in the Montjuic district just in front of historic palaces and monuments. ŠKODA Motorsport’s Jan Kopecký and co-driver Pavel Dresler, despite of knowing already before the start that they will be 2018 WRC 2 champions, spend no time to admire the beautiful scenery. They powered their ŠKODA FABIA R5 to third quickest time in the WRC 2 category, just 0.4 seconds behind teammates Kalle Rovanperä and navigator Jonne Halttunen. Meanwhile Volkswagen Motorsport made an impressive return to the world of rallying with Eric Camilli/Benjamin Veillas setting the first fastest time with their brand-new Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
On Friday morning, the gravel loop with six special stages totalling around 144 kilometres had to be driven. They offered a special challenge to the crews, because some tarmac passages were included as well. After a warm up of seven kilometres, a 26 kilometres test and on top of that, the longest stage of the rally, the more than 38 kilometres of “La Fatarella-Vilalba”, were waiting for the 20 crews of the WRC 2 category.
The category battle was tense during the first loop of the three gravel stages. Camilli (Volkswagen) set the first best time, while Huttunen (Hyundai) was quickest on the next stage. Rovanperä (ŠKODA) was second in the category after two stages, new WRC 2 champion Kopecký held sixth position in the interim category standings. On the more than 38 kilometres of the fourth special stage, Jan Kopecký set the second quickest time, which made him move up to third position, while teammate Kalle Rovanperä had a technical issue. “One kilometre after the start, the handling of the car was feeling a bit strange. First, we thought, we have a puncture and discussed whether to stop. Luckily, we carried on and later found out that there was something wrong with a shock absorber, which was changed at service. It was really a shame, this was a stage that could have made a difference,” the Finnish Youngster commented. He dropped from second to fifth position, still with the podium in sight.
The afternoon loop saw the repetition of the morning stages. Rovanperä set the first fastest time, and with a third quickest stage time on the next one, he moved up to third position ahead of Kopecký. The fight for the lead and WRC 2 podium positions between the Volkswagen and ŠKODA crews was getting more and more intense. On the repetition of the longest stage of the rally, Kalle Rovanperä set another best time and moved up to second position in the category. WRC 2 Champion Jan Kopecký reached the end of Friday in fourth position, looking forward to the tarmac stages of Saturday to fight for another win. Although the weather forecast promises colder temperatures and rain, the fight in the WRC 2 category for sure will be hot again!
All remaining stages of the rally will be entirely run on asphalt. The winner will reach the podium at the rally’s host town Salou in the south of Catalunya’s capital Barcelona at 14h01 on Sunday (local time).
Standings RallyRACC Catalunya – Rally de España after Day 2 (WRC 2)
1. Camilli/Veillas (FRA/FRA), Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, 1:38:23.9 h
2. Rovanperä/Halttunen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +11.8 sec.
3. P. Solberg/Engan (NOR/NOR), Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, +20.4. sec.
4. Kopecký/Dresler (CZE/CZE), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +21.1 sec.
5. Solans/Marti (ESP/ESP), Ford Fiesta R5, +42.0 sec.
Number of the day: 20
20 WRC 2 competitors started RACCRally Catalunya, which clearly proves the success of the category.
The calendar of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2)
Event / Date
Great Britain 04/10/–07/10/2018