PREVIEW: 2017 Catalunya Rally, WRC 11
- 1st October 2017, 2:00pm
Team by TeamCitroen The most important experience in Germany had been to establish the potential of the team through the podium result for guest driver Andreas Mikkelsen. The biggest challenge of Rally Catalunya is expected to be the double run through the 39km mixed stage on Friday where a car’s optimum set-up is important. The team concentrated on the gravel stages in testing in which hopefully the team’s running order should favour them on Day 1 if it is dry and not too dusty. No major technical changes are planned for the team on this event. Same cars as in Finland but Lefebvre drives the car previously used by Breen. The drivers to be entered by the team for Wales Rally GB will be Meeke, Breen and Al Qassimi, there are over two weeks before final decision will be announced for entries in Australia. Hyundai A week full of news! This will be the debut appearance with Hyundai for Andreas Mikkelsen who has been given a two-year WRC contract and who replaces Paddon here. He will act as a fourth member of the team. Also, Opel driver Jari Huttunen won a selection shoot-out and given WRC2 rallies in 2018. Rally Deutschland was a bad memory for the team. Neuville made a small error with big consequences, Sordo made an unusual mistake, promised improvements in the service park were absent and the Saarbrucken stage was a disaster. For Catalunya both surfaces are quite unique. The team tested on both gravel and tarmac near Tarragona. Andreas had also a day on tarmac near Mazamet in France. Attention was on both gravel and tarmac as both surfaces are quite special in Spain. Some technical changes are due to be homologated in time for the rally. Drivers will use the same cars as in Germany, Mikkelsen using the car driven by Paddon. M-Sport After a trouble-free Rallye Deutschland and a busy weekend at the Rallyday function, M-Sport goes to Spain running no fewer than nine cars (there will be 10 at Rally Wales GB). Expectations about Catalunya: the stages themselves don’t pose any specific challenges, but for everyone this will be the first time teams carry out the changeover from gravel to tarmac in the extended 75 minute service with the new (more complicated) cars. That is expected to be one of the biggest challenges of the weekend for M-Sport. Testing concentrated on asphalt, with one day each for each of the three team drivers. No technical changes on the cars, each team driver used the same cars as in Germany. Regarding memories from Germany, the team felt that both the Service Park and the Saarbrucken stage could have been improved upon. Toyota Reaction from Rallye Deutschland, disappointment at the unexpected damper problem for Juho Hanninen which was another technical problem after Latvala’s ECU problem in Finland. Main challenge in Spain is that both surfaces are very different from recent rallies and the team made equal testing on both surfaces, all close to the rally area. Main technical change is that the brake cooling system has been updated to be more resilient to dirt and gravel, this allows the same parts to be used between gravel and tarmac. The three team cars will be the same that the drivers used in Germany. Notable is that Latvala finished second on this event for four successive years, from 2012-2015. No Finnish driver has won this since Toyota Gazoo team principal Tommi Makinen did this in a Mitsubishi exactly 20 years ago!
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