While the first leg of RallyRACC Catalunya – Rallye de España on Friday was run mainly on gravel, the longest leg on Saturday featured fast and smooth tarmac roads in the northwest of Tarragona. Not only the cars had to be technically adapted to the new road conditions, also the drivers had to change their driving style for the seven stages to come.
After his mishap on the first day, when ŠKODA Motorsport’s Jan Kopecký caught the car in front of him and had to complete the last part of the stage in his competitor’s dust losing over one minute, the Czech Champion was unbeatable on the Saturday stages. He was still annoyed though. “We did not get any time back from yesterday. It is a shame and not fair – but that’s life. We will try our best and will show how fast we can be,” commented Kopecký. At the end of the day, he and co-driver Pavel Dresler were clearly the fastest WRC 2 competitor on all seven stages of the day and consequently moved up to second place in the category standings. On the day ending show stage the ŠKODA FABIA R5 in the hands of Kopecký even scored an impressive second fastest time overall against competition from roughly 100 hp more powerful cars of the WRC category!
Their young teammates Juuso Nordgren/Tapio Suominen chose a smart approach to the fast tarmac stages of Catalunya. “It is the second time I am competing here and the very first time I drive a ŠKODA FABIA R5 on tarmac stages. On my first run on the Saturday stages, I was careful, maybe sometimes breaking too early. On the second run of these stages, I already knew better were the limits of the car are and could be more aggressive,” said the 2015 Finnish Junior Champion. Like the day before he was increasing his speed after the lunch break finally moving up to fourth place in the WRC 2 category standings.
“Jan clearly demonstrated his pure speed on tarmac. After the setback on Friday, he didn’t give up and showed a strong determination. At the same time Juuso impressed me with a steep learning curve. He more than fulfilled the expectations of the team,” concluded ŠKODA Motorsport boss Michal Hrabánek at the finish of the second leg.
On Sunday, the final leg of the RallyRACC Catalunya – Rallye de España will feature six special stages totalling additionally 74 kilometres.
Standings RallyRACC Catalunya – Rallye de España after leg 2 (WRC 2)
1. Suninen/Markkula (FIN/FIN), Ford Fiesta R5, 2:22:39.7 h.
2. Kopecký/Dresler (CZE/CZE), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +44.4 sec.
3. Guerra/Cué (MEX/ESP), ŠKODA FABIA R5, + 3:38.2 min.
4. Nordgren/Suominen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +4:25.9 min.
5. Tempestini/Bernacchini (ITA/ITA), Citroën DS3 R5, +4:27.3 min.
6. Pieniazek/Mazur (POL/POL), Peugeot 208 T16, +5:58.8 min.
Number of the day: 7
Jan Kopecký was fastest competitor in WRC 2 on all seven stages of the Saturday leg with his ŠKODA FABIA R5. On the day ending show stage he even managed to score the second fastest time overall!
The 2017 calendar of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2)
Rallye Monte Carlo; 19/01/–22/01/2017
Rally Sweden; 09/02/–12/02/2017
Rally Guanajuato México; 09/03/–12/03/2017
Tour de Corse – Rally France; 06/04/–09/04/2017
Rally Argentina; 27/04/–30/04/2017
Rally de Portugal; 18/05/–21/05/2017
Rally Italia Sardegna; 08/06/–11/06/2017
Rally Poland; 29/06/–02/07/2017
Rally Finland; 27/07/–30/07/2017
ADAC Rallye Deutschland; 17/08/–20/08/2017
RallyRACC Catalunya – Rallye de España; 05/10/–08/10/2017
Wales Rally GB; 26/10/–29/10/2017
Rally Australia; 16/11/–19/11/2017