Hyundai Motorsports Thierry Neuville in the i20 WRC Coupe takes a slender lead of 0.7s over Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Elfyn Evans and Sebastien Ogier.
Speaking following the action on Friday, Neuville commented saying:
I am feeling more comfortable in the car this afternoon. We experienced a lot of understeer on the morning loop, and I felt that I was pushing the car through rather than driving it. On the twisty roads, I felt I could have gone faster but I wasn’t able to get the car to turn in. Tomorrow, we have a different profile of stages, more flowing and I hope they will suit us better. We are going to do all we can to stay in the fight with Elfyn, who had a great start to the rally. It acted as a wake-up call for us, but now we’re back in the game.
Dani Sordo is currently in fourth place overall just 5.4s away from a podium finish and speaking following the action the Spaniard said:
I have pushed my hardest since the very start of the day. It is so good to be back here in Spain, competing in our home event. We are back to a full tarmac event, and I think we’ve had a decent Friday. We took a slightly different strategy in the afternoon loop with two spare tyres. That meant we were carrying more weight on the stages but had some better tyre performance in the final stage. I had hoped the time would be better but honestly it was difficult to get any closer. The guys in front are fast. We’ll keep pushing for the podium.
Ott Tanak has been forced to retire from the opening day of action and will not return to the action:
“It has been a day of unpleasant surprises. This morning, in SS2, we had quite an impressive spin, and then at the start of the afternoon loop we went off and had to retire the car. We hit a tree stump which caused damage to the car that is unfortunately irreparable. It was quite an impact, so we were probably carrying too much speed into the corner. We locked the wheel a bit, and together with the dirt, we couldn’t save it. Martin and I are both fine; we weren’t really over the limit, so it came a bit out of the blue.”
Team Principal Andrea Adamo said:
“We have to be positive for two reasons; firstly, we are leading the rally with Thierry and Martijn, which is good, but furthermore we have demonstrated a good recovery and fightback after a less-than-satisfactory morning. My people have reacted properly, calmly, with no panic, and we caught back the time. The reaction has pleased me, even if we should have been fast from the start. Dani and Cándido had an amazing day, accepting our decision to go with two spare tyres this afternoon. We needed to protect ourselves, to be on the safe side after we saw high tyre degradation on the first loop. Ott and Martin, sadly, had a slight offline moment for which they have paid a heavy price; they will not be able to re-join tomorrow because the chassis is damaged.”