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Australian photographer, Michael Vettas, is in Spain for this weekend's round of the World Rally Championship.  Michael reports on Day 1 action.

Day 1 of Rally de Espana began today 100km South West of Salou with stages surrounding the town of Gandesa.

Friday would be the gravel portion of the rally, which meant that the end of day flexi service would be a little longer to allow for a complete change of suspension, gearboxes and other bits and pieces. It was quite amazing watching teams tackle this in a systematic process in just on 60 minutes.

Back to the action and today saw quite a few incidents. Dust was causing many issues and with no wind to clear the dust it meant quite a few drivers were hit hard on their pass. Bernard Sousa, Karl Krudda, Hayden Paddon and Thierry Neuville all had incidents with Krudda and Sousa rolling their cars in spectacular fashion. Krudda will be back tomorrow to compete in Rally 2 where as Sousa is out.

Kris Meeke and Elfyn Evans also succumbed to incidents, with Evans retiring after the final stage and Meeke after the second stage due to damage caused by numerous punctures. To the main competitors, stage wins where split between a few drivers with Hayden Paddon taking his first stage win in the Hyundai WRC i20, however after the three-stage loop, Ogier was on top. He has a 36.6 second advantage over team mate Latvala going in to Day 2 where the cars are transferred to tarmac specification.

Ogier had this to say about his lead of Day 1:

“I’m a bit surprised to be in the lead,” he told WRC Live. “It was the plan to push as hard as we could and I couldn’t do more. I pushed from first to last and I know I have to continue the same way tomorrow if I want to stay in the same position.”

Results at end of Day 1:

1. S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 1:29:04.0
2. J.M Latvala / M. Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +36.6
3. M. Østberg / J. Andersson (Citroën DS3 WRC) +37.2
4. A. Mikkelsen / O. Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 37.3
5. M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +41.4
6. R. Kubica / M. Szczepaniak (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +57.0
7. D. Sordo / M. Martí (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:24.9
8. M. Prokop / J. Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:18.2
9. T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:29.5
10. N. Al-Attiyah / G. Bernacchini (Ford Fiesta RRC) +4:50.4
...
14.  H. Paddon / J. Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +6:41.1

See more of Michael's fantastic photos from Rally Spain here.

 

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