Latvala and Sordoís duel enlivens the second day of the 49th RallyRACC


Jari-Matti Latvala (Volkswagen). RallyRACC 2013 

The 49th RallyRACC Catalunya-COSTA DAURADA, Rally de EspaŮa 2013 finished its second day with Finlandís Jari-Matti Latvala-Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R) in the lead after a spectacular battle with Dani Sordo-Carlos del Barrio (CitroŽn DS3), that ended with a 1.6-seconds difference. Everything seems to indicate that the two crews are the favourites for the last day, although the Sunday stages, on gravel or on mixed surface, pose a high level of difficulty. A huge crowd followed the driversí performance, both at the timed stages and at the PortAventura Service Park, where thousands of fans enjoyed seeing the cars and drivers and the Village activities.

The difficulty today was in the two passes through El Priorat (42.04 km) and Colldejou (26.48 km) together with a pass through Riudecanyes (16,35 km) and another stage in Salou (2.24 km). Dani Sordo (CitroŽn) was the fastest in the first two stages of the day, both times ahead of the two Volkswagen, while in the third the fastest was Jari-Matti Latvala (Volkswagen) by barely half a second over Sordo. Nevertheless the highlight of the Colldejou stage was the puncture received by Sťbastien Ogier (Volkswagen) after hitting a rock, which made him lose more than 50 seconds and the lead, dropping to sixth position.

Sordo and Latvala reached the PortAventura Service in a tie and half a minute ahead of Neuvilleís Ford. The rally recovered interest due to Ogierís misfortune, as the second loop promised to be very exciting. At El Priorat, the VW were able to win by less than 1 second and Latvala broke the tie with the Spanish driver by only 1 tenth.

In Colldejou, which was also a power stage, a strong Thierry Neuville won by nearly 3 seconds over Ogier and Latvala, although the difference with the leaders was still big. Dani Sordo pushed hard but could only be fourth, 1.1 seconds behind Latvala, who then had a margin of 1.2s. The last stage in Salou, attended by a huge crowd, also saw Latvala set the fastest time, followed by Neuville, Sordo and Ogier. The overall provisional standings after the second day are then very close, as Latvala and Sordo are separated by less than 2 seconds, with Neuville and Ogier behind but ready to battle for the last podium position.

In the rest of the championships, a comfortable lead for Robert Kubica (CitroŽn) in WRC2, as well as for Enrique GarcŪa-Ojeda (CitroŽn) in WRC3 and Yeray Lemes (Ford) in Junior, who would be runner up of the Junior Championship if the rally finished today, after the retirement of Pontus Tidemand, who already secured the Championship, and the driver from Asturias Josť Antonio SuŠrez.

Tomorrow, the feared mixed day
There is still one more day to go before the end of the 49th RallyRACC. Tomorrowís schedule includes gravel and mixed stages. The participants will make two passes through Gandesa (07:33h and 12:57h) and Pesells (07:58h and 13:22h), both on gravel; and another two passes through Terra Alta (09:04h and 14:28h), which is a mixed stage with five changes of surface during its 35.68km. At 11:09 there will be a Service in PortAventura and from 16:36 the drivers are expected to arrive in Salou, where the podium will mark the end of the race.

49th RallyRACC Provisional Standings after day 2
1-Jari-Matti Latvala-Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC), 2h.06í08.9
2-Daniel Sordo-Carlos del Barrio (CitroŽn DS3 WRC), a 1.6
3-Thierry Neuville-Nicolas Gilsoul (Ford Fiesta RS WRC), a 29.3
4-Sťbastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC), a 46.5
5-Mikko Hirvonen-Jarmo Lehtinen (CitroŽn DS3 WRC), a 57.8
6-Evgeny Novikov-Ilka Minor (Ford Fiesta RS WRC), a 57.9
7-Mads Ostberg-Jonas Andersson (Ford Fiesta RS WRC), a 2í28.4
8-Martin Prokop-Michal Ernst (Ford Fiesta RS WRC), a 3í06.7
9-Hayden Paddon-John Kennard (Ford Fiesta RS WRC), a 3í08.6
10-Robert Kubica-Maciek Baran (CitroŽn DS3 RRC),