Asphalt expert Jan Kopecký has taken the lead in the thrilling ŠKODA duel at the Rally Spain. Together with his co-driver Pavel Dresler, the Czech champion built a 14.3-second lead in WRC2 category over the second works duo, Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson, despite tyre damage.
The last 62.80 kilometres of this round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) on Sunday will decide whether ŠKODA Motorsport can celebrate a one-two victory on the Costa Daurada like it did in 2015.
Saturday was all about switching from rain to sunshine and from gravel to asphalt. Pontus Tidemand had a 3.0-second lead going into the two-way battle with his team-mate Kopecký. However, this slim cushion had been whittled away after the very first stage of the day and the Czech driver then took the lead over the course the following stage kilometres on his favourite surface, asphalt, bagging a total of seven best times. In Querol 2, the third to last stage on Saturday, a slow puncture cost him more than 20 seconds against Tidemand, however. Thousands of spectators lined the courses and relished the ŠKODA duel for top position in the WRC2.
This was also illustrated by WRC2 title contender Teemu Suninen, who managed to make a comeback by working his way into fifth place for a privateer team Oreca after his ŠKODA FABIA R5 suffered a defect the previous day.
The rally on the Costa Daurada is the only event with the mixed surface on the WRC calendar, at which the tracks switch between gravel and asphalt. It is considered particularly challenging as a result. The rally ends on Sunday with what must be the most spectacular roundabout in the WRC. The rally drivers have to complete a full “donut” of a roundabout as part of the final stage, Duesaigües. If they fail to do this, they are awarded a 30-second penalty. Thousands of fans will travel to see the spectacle, when the ŠKODA duel will also be decided.
|RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada 2016 – WRC2 standings after the Leg 2:|
|1.||Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler
|ŠKODA FABIA R5||2:42:54.4 hrs|
|2.||Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson
|ŠKODA FABIA R5||+ 14.3 sec|
|3.||Frigyes Turán / Gábor Zsíros
|Ford Fiesta R5||+ 12:20.2 min|
|4.||Jim Van den Heuvel / Jouri Dockx
|Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X||+ 21:13.5 min|
|5.||Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula
|ŠKODA FABIA R5||+ 28:29.0 min|
The number of the day: 0.0
It may be almost unbelievable, but it’s true: after stage 8 of the Rally Spain, the two ŠKODA works drivers, Pontus Tidemand and Jan Kopecký, had exactly the same time, down to a tenth of a second. The two drivers covered the 125.38 stage kilometres up to that point in exactly 1:27:10.4 hours, putting them jointly in the lead.