The World Rally Championship title rivals were overshadowed by Petter Solberg and Federico Villagra in this morning's shakedown stage for the Catalunya Rally, which begins in Salou this evening.
Solberg's Citroen DS3 WRC was quickest of all across the two-mile mixed-surface test, but it was Argentinian driver Villagra who hit the headlines with an exceptional second quickest in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
Villagra only arrived in Spain yesterday morning after his flight was delayed from South America, forcing him to complete his recce later than planned. Villagra said his time at shakedown, just 0.2sec down on fastest man Solberg, has filled him with confidence ahead of what will be his final WRC outing of the year.
"Maybe not competing in the WRC for three months has helped me!" he said. "I'm happy with this, it's my first time driving the Fiesta on tarmac, so it has helped me with my confidence ahead of the event, but we need to remember this is just shakedown."
There was a three-way tie for third quickest time, with Sebastien Ogier – who is just three points behind WRC leaders Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen – joined Jari-Matti Latvala and Henning Solberg on a time four tenths of a second slower than the Norwegian benchmark. Hirvonen was sixth quickest, a tenth up on Loeb's Citroen.