Rally Spain Preview 2013

It’s onto round 12 of the 2013 World Rally Championships and the WRC’s only true Mixed surface event of the year.

Photo: D.Darrall

Photo: D.Darrall

The Rally de Espana is Based in the seaside resort of Salou on Spain’s Costa Daurada as it has been since 2005. The unique event is one of the highlights of the WRC season and attracts tens of thousands of fans and makes for a great atmosphere out on the world stage.

For this years event, rally organisers have reversed the 2012 order of the asphalt and gravel stages so that after starting out as a classic asphalt rally on the first two days, it will turn into a loose-surface event on Sunday. Which could make for Team tactics on Saturday night, and make for a tough last day as the crews will have to re-adjust back to Gravel driving after 2 days on Tarmac and the previous Tarmac event in France.

hirvonen-ford-spain-2010

The Stages

Day 1 of the Rally On Friday will only consist of three asphalt stages after the big ceremonial Start in front of Barcelona’s Grand cathedral. Ending with the 16.35Km Ruinecanyes.

Day 2 will again be all asphalt, and will open with a re-run and the previous days stage, Ruinecanyes. Saturday will also feature the 42 kilometer El Priorat and will end with a blast around the Salou town resort. Acorrding to the itinerary Saturday will also Hold the PowerStage as SS8 the penultimate stage before the blast around salou. six stages in all totalling 155.63km’s. Evening service for the crews will mean a complete change of set up as the cars suspension, wheels and breaks along with other changes, to go from Tarmac spec, to Gravel spec.

Day 3 will also have six stages, but all on Gravel. SS12/15 terra Alta will be a mix of both Gravel and tarmac and will end the rally.

In total there’s 15 Stages with a competitive distance of 355.92km’s.

Photo: D.Darrall

Photo: D.Darrall

Who will win?

With the Drivers Championship decided, no driver will have anything to loose. Ogier will of course be expected to be at the top. But the Manufactures Championship is still to play for. “Seventh place is all we need to claim the world [Manufactures] championship title”,
said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “If things go as normal,
we’ll manage that in Spain. It really would be the icing on the cake if we were
to achieve this in our debut season – we would never even have dreamed of it at
the beginning”

But Tarmac specialist (and pretty handy and gravel too) Is Thierry Neuville. Getting closer to his first victory with every Rally and wants that win more than anything this year, He will be a tough man to beat. On WRC.com Neuville said  “I want to win a rally this year and I will do everything to achieve this goal.”  Citroen’s Dani Sordo has stepped up to battle Neuville on the black stuff so far this season. However with this being a mixed event he may struggle on the gravel of day 3. Tactics could play apart on Saturday night for road position on Sunday, no one will want to sweep the loose surface, especially if there’s victory in sight. but how much time would they risk to drop with only 130km’s of gravel to drive on.

Hayden Paddon will be making his debut in a WRC car after his impressive performances in his S2000 Fabia over the season. Although he will be looking to get to the finish, he could be ready to pick up the piece’s and a podium if some of the top drivers falter. The Kiwi will make the most out of this opportunity given to him by Qatar M-Sport. “The goals for the Spanish rally are straightforward: we need to finish,
make sure we get as much time behind the wheel as possible and will target key
stages to try and show glimpses of speed. We’ll be working hard, doing intensive
homework of the Spanish event, physical training and some testing with M-sport
to make the most of this opportunity.”

All the latest Photos and news will be on InsideRally throughout the Weekend.

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