2016 Rally Catalunya – Rally de España Analysis: Ogier joins greats as Seb wins fourth WRC title in Spain

On the only mixed surface rally of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship, Sébastien Ogier has taken his fourth World Rally Championship in Salou.

TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk looks back at an eventful 2016 Rally Catalunya – Rally de España, where the Volkswagen of Ogier claimed his fourth WRC title in Spain.

WRC – Ogier banishes demons of last year’s Power Stage crash to win in Salou

Credit: Renata Giorgi/Volkswagen Motorsport
Credit: Renata Giorgi/Volkswagen Motorsport

Sébastien Ogier put aside his Power Stage crash from Rally Catalunya last year to record his fifth win of the 2016 WRC season, and his thirty-seventh rally win overall.

The thirty-seventh win for Ogier meant that he clinched the 2016 World Rally Championship with only two rounds to spare after his team-mate and rival for the Drivers’ Championship, Andreas Mikkelsen went off on Day 2 at SS12.

This means that the three Hyundai Motorsport i20’s of Dani Sordo, Thierry Neuville and Hayden Paddon finished second, third and fourth respectively behind the rally winner Ogier.

In terms of the battle for second in the Drivers’ Standings, Neuville is tied with points with Mikkelsen with 127 points, with only Wales Rally GB and Rally Australia to go.

While Paddon solidifies his fourth spot in the Drivers’ Standings, ahead of his team-mate Sordo, who by virtue of his second place on his home rally, now overtakes the third Volkswagen of Jari-Matti Latvala in fifth, who failed to score in Spain.

Mads Østberg’s new asphalt driving style paid dividends as the M-Sport driver finished in his best-ever WRC result on the surface in fifth despite it being a mixed surface rally.

DMACK’s Ott Tänak is sixth, while the fourth and final Hyundai of Kevin Abbring records his best WRC finish to date in seventh.

Jan Kopecký, Pontus Tidemand and Craig Breen complete the top ten finishers after three days in Salou.

Kris Meeke for Citroën retired from the final day of the rally after SS16 from fifth with engine trouble.

Going into Wales Rally GB in a fortnight’s time, Ogier has a 95-point-lead over Mikkelsen and Neuville, which was enough for the Frenchman to become a four-time World Rally Champion.

WRC2 – Veteran Kopecký the man of the moment in Salou

Credit: Škoda
Credit: Škoda

Jan Kopecký used all his experience to good use as he dominated the last two days on asphalt to take his first WRC2 win of the season at the 2016 Rally Catalunya.

The Czech WRC veteran showed his class on Day 2, where Sweden’s Pontus Tidemand led Day 1 in Spain on the gravel.

Kopecký never looked back on the gravel as he was a class apart on the asphalt to record a comfortable win over Tidemand by +15.3 seconds.

Hungary’s Frigyes Turán has been demoted to eighth after incurring a 25 minute penalty, meaning the Netherlands’ Jim van den Heuvel is third.

Finland’s Teemu Suninen had a disappointing rally in Salou, finishing fourth. The Finn is still second in the WRC2 Drivers’ Standings to Championship Leader Elfyn Evans.

Suninen has one more points-scoring opportunity to claim the 2016 WRC2 Championship, otherwise Evans will have done enough to win the title.

Current Junior WRC star Ole Christian Veiby and Marius Aasen complete the top six for the WRC2 category for Rally Catalunya.

WRC3 – Andolfi takes maiden WRC3 win in Spain

Credit: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool
Credit: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool

Italy’s Fabio Andolfi has taken his second win in the WRC3 category this year at the 2016 Rally de España.

Andolfi, who has led the rally for most, if not all of the three days, recorded a comprehensive win over Switzerland’s Michaël Burri by over eight minutes.

Damiano De Tommaso completed the final podium spot in third, while Michel Fabre and Enrico Brazzoli complete the WRC3 runners post-Spain.

In the WRC3 Drivers’ Standings, 2016 Junior WRC Champion Simone Tempestini has a 26-point lead over Michel Fabre, while Ole Christian Veiby completes the top three for WRC3 coming into Wales Rally GB in two weeks’ time.

Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy – Pryce crowned 2016 DDFT Champion in Spain

Credit: @World Photography/Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy
Credit: @World Photography/Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy

Osian Pryce has overcome a misfire to claim the 2016 Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy in Spain.

Pryce, who had to overcome misfires, as well as other DDFT competitors crashing out or retiring throughout the three days, claimed the Trophy after finishing fifth.

Northern Ireland’s Jon Armstrong recorded his second win of the 2016 DDFT campaign in Rally Catalunya, ahead of runner-up Gus Greensmith in second.

Therefore, Armstrong has claimed the last WRC2 prize drive by virtue of his win in Spain.

Finland’s Max Vatanen was third, but it was not enough for Vatanen to overhaul fifth-placed Pryce to become the 2016 Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy Champion.

With several WRC2 prize drives that Pryce has won this year, the Welshman has a bright future in the FIA World Rally Championship, showing immense speed and technique as demonstrated on the asphalt in August’s Rallye Deutschland.

Since there are two rounds to go, the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship heads to Flintshire for the 2016 Wales Rally GB from the 27-30 October 2016.