RallyRACC Catalunya – Rally de España
Three days, seventeen special stages, three hundred and twenty five comma 56 Spanish stage kilometres and some serious luck, and then maybe lucky for him, Rally Australia stands between Ott Tänak and his maiden WRC title.
Everything where a winner or champion is crowned has a Fat Lady who comes out to sing at the crowing, but rallying sure as hell has the most reluctant Fat Lady in the world.
She has walked away often in the past to go and fix her lipstick, suck a sweet for her throat or pluck a hair from her eyebrows, when potential winners came around the last corner, missing the chance to win, because old fatty had to do her thing in the dressing room.
So, things are not as cut and dried as Toyota and Mr Tänak would like it to be – very close – but the Fat Lady still needs to come out to sing!
Ott claims – and he has reason to think so, that he can always take the fight to Australia if things do not work out for him this weekend in Spain. Fact is that he leads his nearest rival Sébastien Ogier by 28 points and Thierry Neuville who is currently in third by 41.
Problem is that if he does not finish in Spain, the difference will be a mere 3 points if Ogier wins the rally and 16 between him and Neuville if the latter wins Rally Spain.
Truth however is that with gravel stages on Friday and “very smooth” asphalt stages on Saturday and Sunday, it is unlikely that there will be high attrition rate and chances are that the top drivers will all finish the event.
Talking about smooth gravel stages, I have often wondered what would happen and how popular it will be, if I created silky smooth, flowing stages at Rallystar and introduce a “new” type of event. I think it will work, but then on the other hand the support will most probably be so big that we will have to run the event over three days to fit in all the entrants!
Goodness gracious me … and then I fell out of bed screaming with fear just thinking that I wanted to try something new in a country where rallying is so well controlled that no one would even think of trying something new.
Anyway – if Mr Tänak succeeds to win the rally this weekend, he may just bank his maiden world title with one rally to spare.
The pressure will squarely be on the shoulders of Citroën’s current world champion rally driver – Sebastien Ogier. He will have to hang out every single piece of talent on his washing line, use every bit of luck he managed to save so far and then also hope and pray that the Citroen will last the distance and pace.
In the manufacturers war, Toyota Gazoo Racing has chewed away on Hyundai Motorsport’s lead dramatically and trails by only 8 points. Hyundai needs to amass 44 points to claim the World Rally Manufacturer’s title.
Hyundai did bring in the magic of Sebastien Loeb to come and help take the Manufacturers fight to Toyota and they will hope that he repeats the win he had in Spain 12 months ago.
It will be interesting to see what Loeb still has up his sleeve – but with the rally being held mostly on smooth tar, one can safely bet that he will probably end up in the top three positions on this event.
Rally Spain starts on Friday 24 October and ends on Sunday the 27th October 2019.
A LITTLE NEWS FROM BEHIND THE SPONSORSHIP SCENE:
The RallyRACC Catalunya – Rally de España (24 – 27 October) rally-closing Wolf Power Stage is partnered by Wolf Lubricants, who used the opportunity this week to treat about 250 or their VIP guests. The independent lubricant specialist Wolf, sponsors the Power Stage at all 14 rounds and is also technical partner of the FIA Junior WRC Championship.
This week Wolf Lubricants welcomed customers and guests from numerous countries, including Belgium, Middle East, Scandinavia, Mexico, France and Germany.
Frédéric Decroix, Wolf’s global marketing director, said its Rally Discovery programmes were an innovative way to develop partnership programmes and create hospitality events with dealers and customers and had generated ‘hugely enthusiastic feedback’.
“The partnership with the WRC creates an excellent opportunity to give our distributors and customers the ultimate Wolf brand experience during WRC rallies,” he added.