PHOTO: Norwegian Mad Ostberg finished equal-eighth in Shakedown aboard his M-Sport Fiesta RS (WRC media pic)
DEFENDING world champion Sébastien Ogier topped the timesheets at Thursday’s pre-event shakedown for Rally RACC Catalunya -Rally de España – but later admitted he wasn’t the fastest driver on stage.
The Frenchman completed a 2.97km mixed gravel and tarmac stage in 2m13.9s at the wheel of his Volkswagen Polo R, but said Hyundai driver Dani Sordo was quicker.
“I want to be honest about shakedown, my time was better only because I overshot a chicane,” Ogier explained.
“Dani should be the fastest. But it’s okay, the result doesn’t count for the race.”
Contesting his home event, Sordo was 0.1 sec. slower than Ogier through the Salou-based test, which was wet and slippery after heavy rain on Wednesday.
“I made sure I was first on the road this morning because I expected it would be muddy. In fact only the surface was muddy and the grip got better and better,” said the Spaniard, who set his quickest time on his third and final pass.
“Really this stage is for fun only. We didn’t learn much driving big asphalt chicanes with gravel tyres and I don’t expect Friday’s stages will have so much mud on them. I am expecting normal gravel conditions tomorrow.”
Ogier’s Volkswagen teammate Andreas Mikkelsen was third fastest. Ott Tänak, in a Ford Fiesta RS, and Kris Meeke, in Citroen’s DS 3, tied fourth.
Crews headed to Barcelona after shakedown for the ceremonial start and an evening spectator stage.