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Rnd 12 - RACC Rally Spain - Oct 13-16



Official website: rallyracc.com/2016/en/

Listen Live: wrc.com/live_popup_radio

WRC+ : Live Stages/Live Maps/Onboard Action/Full Highlights plus.wrc.com/


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Michelin signs new WRC agreement

The French tyre company and WRC Promoter have agreed an extension of their current partnership under which Michelin will be Official Tyre of the WRC until the end of 2019.



The agreement comes as Michelin bids to secure its 300th WRC victory at RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de Espa?a this weekend, and stands on the verge of sealing its 50th world title in the drivers? and manufacturers? championships.

Michelin?s involvement in the WRC dates back to the inaugural championship in 1973. It has provided high-performance competition tyres to manufacturers for all but four seasons since then.

Michelin motorsport director Pascal Couasnon said open competition between different tyre manufacturers was at the heart of the company?s commitment to the WRC.

?We are honoured to be working so closely with the factory teams and the confidence they have in us keeps driving us to design the best possible tyres,? he said.

click: wrc.com/michelin-deal/

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RACC Spain Shakedown


Defending world champion Sebastien Ogier topped the timesheets at Thursday's pre-event shakedown for RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de Espana - but later admitted he wasn't the fastest driver on stage.

The Frenchman completed the 2.97km mixed gravel and Tarmac stage in 2m13.9s at the wheel of his Volkswagen Polo R, but said his closest rival 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."

Hyundai driver Sordo was one-tenth 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," he said.

Ogier's Volkswagen team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen was third fastest. Ott Tanak, in a Ford Fiesta RS, and Kris Meeke, in Citroen's DS 3, tied fourth.

Crews are now en route to Barcelona for the ceremonial start. The rally's first stage, run on the streets of the city, will start at 1806hrs.

click: wrc.com/shakedown-spain/



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Thursday

SS1 Barcelona (asphalt) (3.20 km)


Ott Tanak splashed to fastest time through the opening speed test of RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de Espana in the streets of central Barcelona on Thursday evening.



He was quickest by 2.7sec in a Ford Fiesta RS on rain-soaked roads around the city’s colourful Magic Fountain. Italy’s Lorenzo Bertelli claimed second in a similar car with Sebastien Ogier starting his bid for a fourth consecutive world title in third.

However, all was not well in Tanak’s car at the finish. “We need to check something because the rear differential feels strange,” said the Estonian. “We can’t do anything tonight but we need to have a look in the morning.”

The asphalt test became increasingly tricky as afternoon rain turned heavier and standing water and aquaplaning were a common complaint from drivers starting later in the order.

Ogier was last of the star drivers to tackle the test and the Frenchman, who needs 16 points to secure the title, acknowledged the disadvantage as he finished 3.5sec behind Tanak.

“A good time but it’s tough to start the rally in these conditions. The grip was a bit lower than I expected but still I enjoyed it. I knew it would be hard to match the times of the guys who ran earlier,” said the Volkswagen Polo R pilot.

WRC 2 driver Jan Kopecky was a shock fourth in a Skoda Fabia R5 with Kris Meeke and Craig Breen tied for fifth in Citro?n’s DS 3. Thierry Neuville was the leading Hyundai i20 in seventh and summed up the deteriorating conditions perfectly. “It was hell!” said the Belgian.

Mads Ostberg reported the engine of his Fiesta RS bogged down several times in tight corners while a disillusioned Jari-Matti Latvala had no answers for a lacklustre 13th fastest.

The rally continues tomorrow with a full day of mainly gravel tests. Drivers face two identical loops of three special stages covering 115.90km, including the 38.95km Terra Alta, the longest of the weekend.

click: wrc.com/spain-ss1/



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Friday:

SS2 Caseres 1 (gravel)


Thierry Neuville took the lead of RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de Espana in dreadful conditions in Friday morning’s opening speed test.



Heavy rain and standing water made driving treacherous and while Neuville topped the times through the 12.50km Caseres test, Kris Meeke was caught out and rolled his Citroen DS 3 early in the stage.

Neuville was quickest by 1.6sec from Hyundai i20 team-mate Hayden Paddon. The Belgian demoted championship leader S?bastien Ogier, who was fastest in last night’s curtain-raiser in Barcelona, by 0.3sec in the standings.

“I thought I could go faster but the time is good,” said Neuville. “The rear of the car was moving and gave me some oversteer sometimes but it was OK.”

Despite posting second fastest time, Paddon reported an engine problem. “I’ve lost the anti-lag and I’m down on power with no throttle response,” explained the Kiwi, who was 2.0sec behind Ogier in third overall.

Ogier was third fastest in his Volkswagen Polo R, with Dani Sordo next up and Volkswagen team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen completing the top six. Latvala bounced back from a disappointing start last night and was up to sixth overall, despite a couple of near-misses.

Meeke suffered most in the torrential rain, dropping 40sec after his crash. “I rolled in a fourth-gear bend. In the middle of the corner there were some deep ruts and the car dug in and turned us over in the middle of the road. I thought we had got away with it but….” said the Northern Irishman.

Also in trouble was Mads Ostberg who reported a ‘proper rattle’ in his Ford Fiesta RS, which he believed may have been related to the handbrake. Ott Tanak’s fears over a malfunctioning differential last night were confirmed this morning but the Estonian said that problem was secondary to the conditions.

click: wrc.com/spain-ss2/



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SS3 Bot 1 (gravel)



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SS4 Terra Alta 1 (gravel & asphalt)

Sebastien Ogier overcame appalling conditions to lead RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de Espana at the midpoint of Friday’s first full day despite failing to win any of the three rain-soaked gravel speed tests.



The Frenchman, bidding to secure a fourth consecutive world title in his Volkswagen Polo R, headed Thierry Neuville by 4.4sec. Jari-Matti Latvala recovered well from a lacklustre start last night to complete the top three, a further 1.3sec behind.

Torrential rain continued to hinder the drivers in the hills west of Salou. Mud and standing water made aquaplaning a constant threat but Ogier’s consistency put him top of the standings after Neuville briefly led.

He was second in both the short Bot and the Terra Alta tests. “So far it has been a really difficult rally,” he said. “There’s a lot of standing water and in these conditions I can’t really make a difference.”

Neuville’s reign at the top was a brief one. He led after SS2, only to be demoted on the next test, but he was happy despite the rear of his Hyundai i20 kicking him out of the ruts.

Latvala dropped 12sec in last night’s Barcelona curtain-raiser. However, the Finn was revitalised and went quickest in both Bot and Terra Alta to charge up to third.

Home hero Dani Sordo was fourth in an i20, the Spaniard describing the conditions as ‘unbelievable’. Third in Terra Alta promoted him 3.3sec ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen’s Polo R, the Norwegian cautious through the final 10km after believing he had a puncture.

Hayden Paddon completed the top six but still struggled with engine problems. “Especially on the uphill asphalt section we’ve got no throttle response. I put my foot down to go and there’s nobody at home. I’m surprised not to have lost more time,” he said.

Mads Ostberg was seventh and happier that the vibration which bothered him earlier had disappeared. Craig Breen held eighth, despite a 10sec penalty for arriving late at SS4 after a ‘sluggish’ tyre change, with Kris Meeke and Ott Tanak completing the leaderboard.

click: wrc.com/spain-ss4/



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SS5 Caseres 2 (gravel)

Dani Sordo delighted his legion of Spanish fans by rocketing into the lead of RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de Espana with a blistering performance through Friday afternoon’s slimy opening speed test.



Although the morning rain had stopped, the gravel tracks remained treacherously muddy and virtually every driver rated them more difficult than during the earlier pass.

Conditions improved for the later starters and Sordo blasted through the stage in his Hyundai i20 4.1sec quicker than Kevin Abbring. More importantly he was 16.3sec quicker than leader S?bastien Ogier to climb from fourth to head the Frenchman by 6.1sec.

Jari-Matti Latvala’s charge into third came to an abrupt stop when the Finn parked his Volkswagen Polo R near the stage finish with damaged suspension (pictured below).


Despite setting third fastest time, Ostberg was unhappy with his Ford Fiesta RS. “It’s pulling in different directions when I accelerate and when I brake,” said the Norwegian.

Lorenzo Bertelli took full advantage of the improving conditions to finish fourth in his Ford Fiesta RS, with Kris Meeke and Hayden Paddon completing the top six times. Paddon had been unable to repair his i20’s engine issues and was surprised to be so quick.

He was up to fourth overall, just 0.3sec behind a wide-eyed Andreas Mikkelsen.

“I thought the first time through the stage was tricky but now I was a passenger many, many times,” said the Norwegian. “The surface is more greasy and muddy. You have grip, but then you lose it. It was like that this morning, but now it’s 100 times worse.”

Thierry Neuville plunged from second overall to fifth after spinning on the inside of a corner and stalling the engine. His i20’s front bumper was missing at the finish leaving the radiator exposed to the elements.

click: wrc.com/spain-ss5/



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SS6 Bot 2 (gravel)



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SS7 Terra Alta 2 (gravel & asphalt)

Dani Sordo mastered treacherous conditions to lead RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de Espana on Friday night and set up hopes of a home victory for the first time in 21 years.



Torrential rain turned gravel tracks in the hills above the Costa Daurada into a mudbath, with aquaplaning a constant threat in water-filled ruts. But Sordo’s storming afternoon performance earned the Hyundai i20 pilot a 17.0sec lead over Sebastien Ogier.

Championship leader Ogier, bidding to seal a fourth consecutive world title here, and Thierry Neuville each led during the morning’s three speed tests. Sordo was sublime when they were repeated, winning two and placing second in the other to climb from fourth to first.

“This is a dream for me,” said Sordo, hoping to become the first Spaniard to win on home ground since Carlos Sainz in 1995. “I have to say thanks to the team for a great job with the car. Tomorrow we need to continue and see what we can do. Two long days to go, but today was unbelievable.”

Ogier endured the worst of the slimy roads from first in the start order and the Frenchman admitted his priority in the early afternoon stages was simply surviving in his Volkswagen Polo R.


Team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen completed the podium places, 18.1sec behind Ogier. The Norwegian overcame brake problems late in the day and twice slowed on stages when mistakenly believing he had a puncture.

Hyundai duo Neuville and Hayden Paddon were split by just 1.2sec in fourth and fifth. Neuville led after SS2 and was second when he spun on the inside of a SS5 corner, clipping a tree, removing the front bodywork and leaving his i20’s radiator exposed to the elements.

Paddon’s anti-lag system failed to work all day and the New Zealander was surprised not to lose more time.

Kris Meeke rolled his Citroen DS 3 in the opening stage after touching a bank. He recovered to sixth ahead of team-mate Craig Breen, who picked up a 10sec penalty after checking into a time control late when a tyre change took longer than expected. Ott Tanak and Eric Camilli completed the leaderboard in Ford Fiesta RS cars.

After a lacklustre start last night when he ceded 12sec in the Barcelona street stage, Jari-Matti Latvala revelled in the slippery conditions, winning two stages to climb to third. However, his Polo R was sidelined this afternoon with broken suspension.

Following an extended service tonight when teams switch their cars from dirt to asphalt specification, the final two days will be fought on sealed surface roads. Tomorrow drivers tackle eight tests, three of which are repeated, covering 139.18km.

click: wrc.com/spain-day-2/




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Saturday
SS8 Vilaplana (asphalt)


Sebastien Ogier has pledged to try and wrestle the lead of RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de Espana from Dani Sordo when the competitive action resumes today.

Ogier can wrap up a fourth consecutive WRC drivers' title this weekend, and said before the start that he wanted to do that in style, by claiming a fifth win of the season on the rally he won in 2013 and 2014.

The Frenchman led the rally midway through Friday's opening day in his Volkswagen Polo R, but was reeled in by Sordo's Hyundai i20 in the afternoon loop to end the day second, trailing the Spaniard by 17sec.

click: wrc.com/ogier-fightback



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SS9 Alcover-Capafonts 1 (asphalt)

Jari-Matti Latvala bounced back from yesterday’s retirement to win Saturday morning’s opening two speed tests at RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de Espana.



The Finn, who was sidelined after hitting a barrier and breaking his Volkswagen Polo R’s suspension, was two-tenths of a second quicker than Kris Meeke in the opening Vilaplana. He was 0.7sec up on leader Dani Sordo in the following test from Alcover to Capafonts.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny, in contrast to yesterday’s torrential rain. The special stages were different too. The mud-caked gravel tracks replaced by fast, wide and smooth asphalt, although the roads were damp in places.

“The car is fantastic and I have a very good feeling. I was very disappointed yesterday. I wasn’t too fast, I just turned too early into a corner and hit the Armco,” explained Latvala (top right).

At the top of the leaderboard Sordo (top left) eked out a few more tenths to increase the gap over Sebastien Ogier to 17.5sec. Ogier was a tenth of a second faster in Vilaplana but the situation was reversed in the next test when Sordo was 0.6sec quicker.

Meeke’s good work in Vilaplana was undone in the next stage when an over-ambitious cut punctured his Citro?n DS 3’s front right tyre and he dropped 25sec.

Andreas Mikkelsen retained third in his Polo R after top four times in both stages, but Thierry Neuville and Hayden Paddon, fourth and fifth overall, complained of handling problems in their i20s.

Neuville said his car was ‘not driveable’, wheelspin in corners giving way to understeer, while Paddon reported a strong smell of burning plastic after locking his brakes early in Vilaplana.

Craig Breen lost 30sec and eighth place after breaking a front driveshaft in Vilaplana. “I had a huge spin when it snapped halfway round a fourth-gear corner,” said the Irishman, whose Citroen DS 3 was restricted to rear-wheel drive. He lost 90sec in the next test to add to a 2min 10sec penalty for starting late as he worked furiously, but in vain, to make repairs.

click: wrc.com/spain-ss9/



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SS10 Querol 1 (asphalt)



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SS11 El Montmell 1 (asphalt)

Sebastien Ogier halved the deficit to leader Dani Sordo after winning the last two speed tests of Saturday morning’s loop at RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de Espana.



The Frenchman, bidding to seal his fourth consecutive world title, upped his pace to win both the Querol and El Montmell special stages and slash the gap from 17.5sec to 7.7sec as drivers returned to Salou for mid-leg service.

Ogier distanced Sordo by 3.0sec in Querol before punching in a time 6.8sec faster in El Montmell, and then admitted there was more to come.

“I’m driving hard but it’s not perfect. I know I could be a little bit better. I’m not ready to go for full risk yet, I’m not absolutely on the limit,” said the Volkswagen Polo R pilot, who added that some sections were still damp despite the glorious sunshine beating down.

Sordo was second fastest in both tests but cut a frustrated figure at the end of El Montmell. “The car’s understeering a lot. It’s impossible, but I’m trying my best, I can’t do more. Querol was very dirty in places, conditions were much better for the first cars,” said the Hyundai i20 driver.

Andreas Mikkelsen retained third, but slipped 37.4sec behind Ogier, after finishing sixth in both tests. The Norwegian was also fighting understeer in his Polo R, resorting to the handbrake to pull his car around corners more frequently than he liked.

Hyundai i20 duo Thierry Neuville and Hayden Paddon were fourth and fifth. Neuville said understeer was a problem in the tighter parts while a wrong pace note spoiled his concentration in El Montmell. The gap between them was 12.9sec.

Kris Meeke overhauled Mads Ostberg for sixth, despite the rear of his Citroen DS 3 sliding around with one soft tyre fitted after an earlier puncture. Ott Tanak, Eric Camilli and Kevin Abbring completed the leaderboard.

click: wrc.com/spain-ss11/




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SS12 Alcover-Capafonts 2 (asphalt)



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SS13 Querol 2 (asphalt)

Andreas Mikkelsen crashed out of third place at RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de Espana on Saturday afternoon to move Sebastien Ogier closer to his fourth consecutive drivers' world title.



Mikkelsen’s Volkswagen Polo R drifted wide in a fast right corner early in the Alcover - Capafonts speed test and hit a barrier, before rolling several times down the road.

He and co-driver Anders Jaeger were unhurt but their demise means Ogier will secure the title unless he fails to score and Thierry Neuville takes maximum points.

Ogier was quickest through both stages in his Polo R to further reduce Dani Sordo’s lead to 2.5sec with two stages remaining in this penultimate leg. Sordo was second and third in the two stages, but the Spaniard had an air of resignation at the finish of Querol.

“It’s impossible to do any more. I’m too much on the limit. Not over the limit but I can’t go any faster. It’s a bit frustrating,” he said.

Neuville climbed to third, a minute behind Ogier. He changed his Hyundai i20 at mid-leg service to improve its handling, but understeer remained an issue. The Belgian reverted closer to his morning set-up and although the balance was better, he lacked confidence with the front.

Kris Meeke survived a 360-degree fifth-gear spin in Alcover - Capafonts which ripped off his Citroen DS 3’s front right bodywork. “I thought I’d got away with it until we lost the bumper. Too many silly mistakes this rally, I need to eliminate them,” said the Ulsterman.

Eric Camilli’s Ford Fiesta RS jammed in fifth gear in the same test and the Frenchman retired after the stage. Jari-Matti Latvala dropped 40sec with a puncture in his Polo R in SS12, but bounced back with second in the following test.

click: wrc.com/spain-ss13/



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SS14 El Montmell 2 (asphalt)



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SS15 Salou (asphalt)

Sebastien Ogier all but secured his fourth consecutive FIA World Rally Championship title after passing Dani Sordo to lead RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de Espana on Saturday.

Andreas Mikkelsen, second in the series, crashed this afternoon to leave Ogier with one hand on the crown. Only Thierry Neuville can deprive him but the Belgian, third in the rally, must claim maximum points and Ogier fail to score for the Frenchman to be denied.

Ogier dented Sordo’s dream of becoming the first Spaniard to win his home rally for 21 years by ending the penultimate leg of the four-day mixed surface event with a 5.8sec lead in his Volkswagen Polo R. Neuville was a further 58.1sec behind in a Hyundai i20.

Saturday was hot and sunny, in contrast to yesterday’s torrential rain. The special stages were different too, the mud-caked gravel tracks replaced by fast, wide and smooth asphalt.

Initially Sordo defended his 17.0sec lead in his Hyundai i20, but Ogier trimmed it to 7.7sec by mid-leg service with two stage wins. Three more fastest times followed this afternoon to leave Ogier sitting pretty.

“Dani was strong and very hard to catch,” he said. “We managed to come back and had some good times but I knew it would be tough. Sunday will be exciting again and we’ll have to continue in the same way tomorrow.”

Sordo struggled with understeer and even reduced his pace to try to improve grip. “I’m very disappointed to lose the fight but what can I do?” he questioned.

click: wrc.com/spain-saturday-wrap/



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Sunday

SS16 Pratdip 1 (asphalt)




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SS17 Duesaigues 1 (asphalt)

Sebastien Ogier more than doubled his lead over Dani Sordo in Sunday morning’s opening speed tests at RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de Espana.



The Frenchman, who is on the brink of clinching his fourth consecutive world title later today, was fastest in Pratdip by 2.0sec in his Volkswagen Polo R. He was then second in Duesaigues to stretch his lead from 5.5sec to 12.7sec.

“There was a bit of humidity in the first stage and some tricky places. I’m happy to be faster than Dani. I was a little but more cautious than normal in the second stage but two more to go and so far everything is looking good,” said Ogier, who crashed out of the lead in Duesaigues last year.

Sordo was third in Pratdip and fifth in Duesaigues in his Hyundai i20, but the Spanish hero was frustrated. “I had a lot of understeer. I tried really hard to catch Ogier, I tried my best, but it was difficult,” he said.

Team-mate Thierry Neuville was fourth in both stages to retain third place. The Belgian also reported understeer in his i20 and conceded time to Hayden Paddon in both tests. The gap between the pair was 13.4sec.

Kris Meeke’s disappointing weekend came to a premature conclusion when the Ulsterman stopped 7.34km after the start of Pratdip. His Citroen DS 3 suffered engine problems and his demise allowed Mads Ostberg to climb to fifth in a Ford Fiesta RS.

Ostberg was one of only two leading drivers to opt for Michelin’s soft compound tyres and the Norwegian believed that was a mistake as the rubber had overheated by the finish of Duesaigues.

Jari-Matti Latvala made it a Volkswagen double this morning by winning SS17.

Martin Prokop retired after completing Duesaigues with the front right wheel missing from his Ford Fiesta RS after sliding into the scenery.

click: wrc.com/spain-ss17/



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SS18 Pratdip 2 (asphalt)



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SS19 Duesaigues 2 (asphalt) (Power Stage)

Sebastien Ogier clinched his fourth consecutive FIA World Rally Championship title with victory at RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de Espana on Sunday afternoon.



The Frenchman secured his fifth victory of the year on the championship’s only mixed surface round to seal the crown in a Volkswagen Polo R with two rallies remaining.

Spain’s Dani Sordo, driving a Hyundai i20, led the four-day event initially but Ogier moved ahead once the rally switched from gravel to asphalt to win by 15.6sec. Thierry Neuville maintained his strong recent form to take third in another i20, a further 59.4sec behind.

Jari-Matti Latvala won the final live TV Power Stage to claim three bonus points in a Polo R. Ogier took two points for second while Sordo secured the final point.

click: wrc.com/spain-breaking-news



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Next Rnd 13 - Dayinsure Wales Rally GB Oct27-Oct30




Official Website: walesrallygb.com

Listen Live: wrc.com/live_popup_radio

WRC+ : Live Stages/Live Maps/Onboard Action/Full Highlights plus.wrc.com/


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