Frenchman Sébastien Ogier has tightened the battle for the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship with an epic victory in Daysinsure Wales Rally GB – and predicts his bid for a six-straight drivers’ title will be decided in Australia in less than six weeks’ time.
The M-Sport Ford driver secured a record fifth victory in the British classic after an enthralling final-leg duel through the north Wales forests with Jari-Matti Latvala, who came home just 10.6 seconds behind. Latvala’s Toyota teammate Esapekka Lappi finished a further 24.5 sec. back, in third place.
The championship is now poised for its closest finish in years. Leader Thierry Neuville, Ogier and Ott Tänak are covered by just 21 points, with only Rally Spain to go before the season finale at Kennards Hire Rally Australia on the NSW Coffs Coast on 15-18 November.
Tickets for Kennards Hire Rally Australia are on sale at www.rallyaustralia.com.au.
"I’m looking forward to Spain now, where we can perform well I think, followed by Australia where it will probably all be decided,” Ogier said.
“I’m sure the fans will love a close fight and I’m excited for the end of the season.”
Ogier’s title hopes were hanging by a thread on Friday morning when a broken gearbox plunged the Ford Fiesta driver to eighth, but he charged up the leaderboard as his championship rivals encountered their own problems.
Victory and three bonus points from Sunday’s Power Stage moved Ogier to within seven championship points of Neuville, who scrambled back to finish fifth after sliding his Hyundai into a sodden ditch on Saturday.
Tänak, winner of the last three rallies in Finland, Germany and Turkey, dominated on the muddy, foggy Welsh stages until retiring his Toyota Yaris with a broken radiator on Saturday afternoon. He rejoined on Sunday to claim 19thoutright, but left Wales with only four Power Stage bonus points to boost his tally.
M-Sport team principal Malcolm Wilson praised the fightback by Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia, especially over Sunday’s last three stages, which included a spectacular asphalt dash along the Great Orme cliffside road to the seaside town of Llandudno.
“Locked in such an intense battle today, they showed what this victory means to them and their performance through the last three stages was brilliant,” Wilson said.
“It puts us back on track in the driver and co-driver standings and I’m as excited as every rally fan to see how it plays out over the last two events.”
Ogier added: “Luckily I was able to finish the rally with three perfect stages – especially SS22 which was as close to perfection as I can get and I’m glad I could make the difference there.
“It was a huge weekend, such a tough fight. Toyota was very strong, Ott was so far ahead before he had his trouble and then Jari-Matti was so strong. I didn’t know if I could stay in front in the forests, but asphalt is a surface I like and we managed to secure the win.”
Latvala erased Ogier’s slender overnight advantage in Sunday morning’s slippery forest speed tests and led in his Yaris by 0.2sec with two stages remaining. But Ogier excelled on the drying gravel roads and the asphalt streets of Llandudno to move back in front.
Lappi’s third place helped extend Toyota Gazoo Racing’s lead in the manufacturers’ championship over Hyundai Shell Mobis.
Craig Breen’s bid for a top-three finish ended in a spin. The Citroën C3 driver finished 35.3sec. behind Lappi in fourth, at the head of a group of five drivers blanketed by less than 12sec.
Neuville climbed three places in the final three stages to finish 4.0sec. behind Breen.
“The championship is far from over. From a fan point of view, it’s getting exciting between me, Sébastien and Ott,” Neuville said. “We have to pick ourselves up and fight for overall victory in the final two rounds. It’s in our hands.”
The penultimate round is the mixed surface RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España, which is based in Salou on 25-28 October.
Kennards Hire Rally Australia on the NSW Coffs Coast on 15-18 November will be the 13thand final round of the 2018 WRC and also will feature the decider between four contenders for the CAMS Australian Rally Championship.
Tickets are on sale at www.rallyaustralia.com.au. A variety of viewing options is available, including the $99 Get Me Everywhere pass with adult access to all stages over three days.
Highlight attractions include -
Thursday-Sunday: Pedders Rally Central service park (C.ex Coffs International Stadium, 7am-8pm, free entry)
Thursday: Rally Show and Ceremonial Start (Coffs Harbour Jetty Foreshores, 4pm, free entry)
Friday: Destination NSW Super Special Stage (Coffs Harbour Jetty Foreshores, gates open 2pm, finish 7.30pm, ticket required)
Saturday: Raceway Special Stage (Raleigh, first car 9.47am, ticket required); Destination NSW Super Special Stage (Coffs Harbour Jetty Foreshores, gates open 2pm, finish 7.30pm, ticket required)
Sunday: Forests NSW Rally Village & finish podium presentation (Wedding Bells Special Stage, first car 8.40am, ticket required)
Rally Australia is supported by the NSW Government via its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.
Final results, Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (WRC round 11 of 13):
- SébastienOgier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC)
- Jari-Matti Latvala/Mikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +10.6
- Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +35.1
- Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:10.4
- Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:14.4
- Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:15.9
- Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:18.4
- Mads Østberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:21.6
- Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Skoda Fabia R5) + 9:14.7
- Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (Skoda Fabia R5) +10:48/9
Thierry Neuville has survived chaotic last-minute conditions to record his first Kennards Hire Rally Australia victory. Neuville had an early scare as torrential rain made the morning stages almost undriveable but he was able to pull clear when it counted to supply Hyundai with a perfect end to the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship season.
Jari-Matti Latvala’s pursuit of Neuville from second place ended dramatically when his Toyota Gazoo Racing Yaris crashed into trees after sliding wide on a fast left-hand corner on the 20th and final stage in the Wedding Bells State forest. The uninjured but distraught Finn retired on the spot, elevating M-Sport driver Ott Tanak to second place in a Ford Fiesta and a surprised New Zealander Hayden Paddon to third in another Hyundai.
Five-times World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier (M-Sport) won the points-paying Power Stage that closed the rally and the season and finished fourth after a weekend beset with problems.
The 29-year-old Neuville recorded his fourth victory of the season, double Ogier’s score in achieving his fifth straight drivers’ world championship last month. He also hoisted his 54th special stage win of the 2017 season in the first run through Wedding Bells this morning, astonishingly also more than double Ogier‘s score.
Neuville had started the day more than 20sec ahead of Latvala but saw this halved after rain - described by Citroen driver Kris Meeke as “horrendous” – dumped on the second test, Bucca. The conditions affected other parts of the course and organisers cancelled the penultimate stage, Pilbara Reverse, leaving Latvala with too little time and distance to continue his charge.
In a post-event press conference, Neuville said the season’s achievements made he and the Hyundai Motorsport team feel like World Champions, even though they missed the title because of early mistakes and problems.
“This one is a special one and really goes to the whole team of Hyundai Motorsport,” he said, admitting Latvala had been close enough today to challenge for the win. “We are not World Champions, but we drove like World Champions. Every morning when you see Jari-Matti doing his push-ups you know that he’s going for a big attack.
“He did it this morning and he will not give up and try until the very end. There was a real opportunity for him to get the first place, so we had to resist in a clever way but not taking too much risk in the tricky conditions.”
While Latvala’s run finished bitterly, Tanak completed his M-Sport tenure with a solid performance before switching to the Tommi Makinen-run Toyota outfit in 2018.
“It’s important to finish the season like this. It was quite difficult to think about this (finishing second) on Friday as I was not comfortable in the car,” Tanak said. Paddon managed to take some positives away from his most difficult season in rallying. “On speed alone we didn’t deserve a podium this weekend,” the New Zealander said.
“When the rain came we knew it would be very, very tricky. We had a bit of an idea of what to expect and took it nice and easy to look after our position. So it was a nice way to finish what was a pretty trying year.”
Rally Great Britain winner Elfyn Evans was fifth ahead of Toyota’s Esapekka Lappi. Kris Meeke, who re-entered under Rally 2 rules after suffering a broken suspension yesterday, was seventh.
Australians Richie Dalton (Skoda), Nathan Quinn (Mitsubishi) and Dean Herridge (Subaru) completed the top 10 in a field of 78 starters. Quinn won the CAMS Australian Rally Championship, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 called “Shirley”, so named he says because the car has had more hits in its 10-year competition career than the famous singer Shirley Bassey.
Frenchman Sébastien Ogier will contest Kennards Hire Rally Australia next month as the 2017 World Rally Champion after clinching his fifth consecutive title on the penultimate round in Wales on Sunday October 29. Dayinsure Wales Rally GB was won by Ogier’s M-Sport teammate Elfyn Evans, with Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville 37.3 seconds behind.
A further 7.9 sec back, Ogier took third place and enough points to put his championship beyond challenge before the series finale on the NSW Coffs Coast on 16-19 November. With a third M-Sport Ford Fiesta driver Ott Tänak finishing sixth, the British privateer team capped an historic weekend by taking the WRC manufacturers’ championship for the first time in 10 years.
Evans not only took his first WRC victory – and on Welsh home soil – but dominated the four-day rally. He set fastest times on nine of the 21 stages and, despite the challenges of rain, fog and muddy roads, held on to the overall lead from the first speed test on Friday 27 October. He became the seventh different winner and the third first-time winner, alongside Tänak and Toyota’s Esapekka Lappi, in what has been the most competitive WRC season in decades. Co-driven by Daniel Barritt, Evans was the first British driver to win the home round since 2000.
Rally Australia Chairman Ben Rainsford congratulated the winners and said the result guaranteed fans next month would see the world’s best drivers in action.
“Malcolm Wilson and the M-Sport team pulled off an extraordinary achievement at Wales Rally GB. The manufacturers’ championship, drivers’ championship, co-drivers’ championship (for Ogier’s co-driver Julien Ingrassia) and a home-round win in one weekend is amazing,” Rainsford said. “It will be a thrill to see the new world champions in action at Rally Australia, but there will also be unfinished business on the Coffs Coast. There’s still a battle for second in the WRC to be settled between Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak and of course we’ll host the Australian Rally Championship decider between Molly Taylor and Nathan Quinn.
“I predict the gloves will now be off at Rally Australia. With the new faster louder and wilder-looking WRC cars making their first appearance Down Under, we’re going to host a cracking climax to the 2017 season.”
Ogier was emotional after claiming a hard-fought championship, during which he has won only two of the 12 rounds so far but finished on the podium a further seven times.
“I don't know what to say. It’s just incredible. Thank you so much to the whole M-Sport team and Malcolm. It was a hard job. We work all very hard. It’s amazing to be World Champion with this team,” he said through tears. “I had very, very strong emotions on the finish line. I’m very happy for Elfyn. It’s amazing for M-Sport – victory, two guys on the podium, the manufacturers’ championship, drivers’ world championship – everything!”
Evans added: “It's been a good rally. I'm incredibly grateful to everybody that has stood by me through all these years – to get to this point has taken a lot. To all the people who have supported me and backed me – this is for you. And this result only makes us even hungrier for more.”
WRC teams will now have barely a week to return to their bases and prepare their cars before they are air-freighted to Australia. Organisers are planning a big welcome for the international and Australian teams entered, with a free Rally Show and Ceremonial Start expected to attract thousands of fans to the closed main street of Coffs Harbour on Thursday 16 November. The competitors’ service park at C.ex International Stadium will be a hub of rally activity and free entertainment, including driver appearances, music concerts, fireworks, student visits, souvenir sales and a $5000 cash giveaway, throughout the weekend.
Tickets are on sale at www.ticketek.com.au, with a 2-for-1 offer on a $99 all-stages passes available until Tuesday October 31.
Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (round 12 of 13):
1) Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2h57m00.6s
2) Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +37.3
3) Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrasia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +45.2
4) Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +49.8
5) Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +50.3
6) Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:02.3
7) Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) 1:20.5
8) Hayden Paddon/Sebastian Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe) +2:16.3
9) Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:46.5
10) Dani Sordo/Marc Marti (Hyundai i0 Coupe WRC) +3:50.5
French driver Sébastien Ogier increased his lead in the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship with his second win of the season at Vodafone Rally de Portugal on Sunday. Steering home his Ford Fiesta 15.6sec ahead of Thierry Neuville in a Hyundai i20 Coupe, Ogier’s 40th career win also matched the 30-year-old record five Portugal wins of Finn Markku Alén.
Neuville’s teammate Dani Sordo finished third in the championship’s sixth round.
The result, concluded in front of huge spectator crowds on the famous Fafe stage near Porto in northern Portugal, boosted Ogier’s lead to 22 points in his chase for a fifth straight drivers’ world championship. Neuville moved from third to second in the standings, displacing Toyota’s Jari-Matti Latvala.
On the anniversary of his maiden WRC win in Portugal seven years ago, Ogier took the lead of the four-day gravel contest on Saturday morning. He controlled a comfortable advantage through the final leg to add to his season-opening win in Monte-Carlo. The 2017 championship ends on 16-19 November at Kennards Hire Rally Australia on the New South Wales Coffs Coast, where Ogier won in 2013-14-15. Tickets from $39 are on sale now from www.ticketek.com.
“After the struggle we had in the last round, it’s fantastic to be back on the top step of the podium again,” Ogier said at the Portugal finish. “I had a new car in Monte-Carlo and we won. I had a new car here and we won. I’m not sure if the team can afford to give me a new car for every rally!”
Remarkably, Ogier was one of seven drivers to lead during the rally. Belgian Neuville was another. With Mads Østberg, he topped the order in his Hyundai after Thursday night’s opening stage, but slipped away before recovering to second. Neuville, targeting a hat-trick after victories in Corsica and Argentina, changed his driving style to try to regain top spot, but conceded defeat early on Sunday morning.
Teammate Sordo finished a further 46.1sec behind in third. The Spaniard struggled with the handling of his i20 on the dusty gravel roads and could not fend off Ogier and Neuville after lying second earlier in the weekend. Ott Tänak looked to be the man to beat on Saturday. He led before swiping a bank and breaking his Fiesta’s suspension and brakes. He recovered to finish fourth, almost half a minute adrift of Sordo, but had the compensation of winning the rally-closing Power Stage and five bonus points.
Craig Breen was again the leading Citroën C3 driver in fifth, the fourth occasion in six rallies he has occupied that position. He was 27.2sec adrift of Tänak, but well over a minute clear of Elfyn Evans’ Fiesta. The championship reaches its midpoint on 8-11 June at Rally Italia Sardegna, based in Alghero.
RESULTS, Vodafone Rally de Portugal (Rd 6 of 13):
- Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3h42m55.7s
- Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +15.6s
- Dani Sordo/Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m01.7s
- Ott Tänak/Martin Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1m30.2s
- Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +1m57.4s
- Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3m10.6s
- Juho Hänninen/Kaj Lindström (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3m48.6s
- Mads Østberg/Ola Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +5m29.7s
- Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +5m43.6s
- Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +8m13.3s
Sébastien Ogier eased through the final leg in the mountains above Monaco to claim his fifth Monte success in total by 2min 15.0sec in a Ford Fiesta World Rally Car. It was a dream debut for the Frenchman with the M-Sport World Rally Team, for whom this was a first win since November 2012.
Jari-Matti Latvala finished second in a Toyota Yaris on the Japanese manufacturer’s return to the WRC after a 17-year absence. Final day engine problems for Ott Tänak denied M-Sport a one-two as he slipped to third, a further 42.8sec behind.
Ogier took the lead late on Saturday’s penultimate leg when event-long leader Thierry Neuville broke his Hyundai i20 Coupe’s suspension after an impact.
With a comfortable gap, Ogier took no risks through the final snow-hit speed test over the famous Col de Turini.
“I was hoping to win but to take it from the first rally, after only one month together and with so little preparation, feels really amazing,” he said. “The conditions didn’t make our life easy this weekend, starting first in the snow on day one and finishing with more and more snow.”
Latvala struggled to find a good rhythm initially but changes to his car’s set-up revitalised the Finn. Third overnight became second when Ott Tänak dropped time with a broken ignition coil pack in his Fiesta and Latvala sped by. With no service, Estonian Tänak worked furiously to make repairs and did enough to hold onto third, fending off Dani Sordo’s i20 Coupe with a spirited downhill drive to the finish of the last special stage in falling snow.
Craig Breen finished fifth in a Citroën DS 3 with Elfyn Evans completing the top six in another Fiesta. The Welshman won three stages on Saturday to offset a disappointing start when he dropped several minutes in snow and ice.
More snow and ice are in store for competitors at the second round next month. Rally Sweden is based in Torsby on 9-12 February.
Four-time WRC World Champion Sebastien Ogier to drive for M-Sport in 2017. Having tested the brand new Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta in Wales last month, the Frenchman was sufficiently impressed to agree terms with the Cumbrian team.
Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia were free agents having dominated the last four years in the all conquering Volkswagen Polo before the manufacturer ended its commitment to the sport. The pair are a force to be reckoned with and since starting their WRC assault in 2008, have secured four world championships, 38 victories, 56 podiums and an impressive 475 stage wins.
Ogier will lead the M-Sport team with Estonian 2016 Driver of the Year, Ott Tänak, and with just 39 days until the start of the Rallye Monte-Carlo, the defending champion cannot wait to get going.
“There will be a lot of new things this season, but I am definitely looking forward to it. We have a new generation of world rally cars, and a new team – it’s certainly an exciting time,” said Ogier. “There’s not long before we line-up at the start of Rallye Monte-Carlo and we’ve not had a lot of seat time with the Ford Fiesta WRC, but we’ll give it our best to be ready. We’re aware of the challenges, and I can see how hungry Malcolm Wilson and his team are for success.
“It’s funny to think that just a few months ago I was sitting at a motorsport forum at Wales Rally GB saying how nice it would be to work with him one day. I had no idea at the time that it would come quite so soon, but here we are! I’m looking forward to working with M-Sport, and we’ll certainly be aiming to return them to the top-step of the podium!”
Wilson, M-Sport Managing Director, added: “We go to Rallye Monte-Carlo with the number one on the door of the Ford Fiesta WRC and the strongest driver line-up we have had in years. To say we’re excited about next season is an understatement.
We believe that we have produced an exceptional car, and we are in the best possible position ahead of this exciting new era.
“I’ve made no secret of how much we wanted to work with Sebastien and Julien, and it is fantastic to welcome them to the team. We have worked extremely hard to secure them, and they believe that the Ford Fiesta WRC is the car with which they can best defend their championship."
French driver Sébastien Ogier secured his fourth consecutive FIA World Rally Championship title by winning RACC Catalunya-Rally de España on Sunday. He became the fourth driver to claim a quartet of titles after overcoming local hero Dani Sordo to win the only mixed-surface event of the season by 15.6sec in a Volkswagen Polo R. Thierry Neuville of Belgium claimed the final podium place, a further 59.4sec behind.
Ogier's fifth win of the year put the drivers’ title beyond doubt, while co-driver Julien Ingrassia also secured his fourth world championship. But the fight for second and third in the drivers’ series was blown open in Spain and Volkswagen must wait to secure its fourth manufacturers’ championship until Dayinsure Wales Rally Great Britain at the end of this month or Kennards Hire Rally Australia in 30 days’ time on 17-20 November.
For the first time at its New South Wales Coffs Coast base, Rally Australia will close the WRC season. Tickets on sale from www.rallyaustralia.com.au and Ticketek.com include a limited 2-for-1 offer on entry to the new Destination NSW Super Special Stage on the Coffs Harbour waterfront. Spanish ace Sordo led his home event in a Hyundai i20 after Friday’s muddy opening leg in the hills above the Costa Daurada, near Salou. Ogier came into his own when the surface switched to asphalt from Saturday, taking a string of stage wins to move into the lead.
He sealed the win and the championship on the same piece of road on which he crashed out of the lead 12 months ago when just a few kilometres from victory.
“It’s fantastic to take the championship two rallies before the end of the season, I couldn’t do much more,” said Ogier, who secured his third title at Rally Australia last year. “The fourth world championship title for Julien and me, it is impossible to describe how this feels.
“The tension ahead of the closing Power Stage was obviously greater than usual, given the fact that we were within touching distance of the title, and bearing in mind the mistake we made last year. But we’ve done it.”
The 32-year-old former ski instructor and professional boules player joins countryman Sébastien Loeb and Finns Juha Kankkunen and Tommi Mäkinen as an all-time great of the WRC, which has been running since 1977. Rally de Espańa was his 30th win from 50 starts with Volkswagen since 2013.
Sordo’s teammate Neuville moved level with Andreas Mikkelsen in second place in the championship after completing the podium. The Belgian battled cornering problems with his car, but was secure in third after Mikkelsen rolled his Volkswagen heavily on Saturday afternoon. Hayden Paddon completed a strong weekend for Hyundai in fourth, 12.8sec behind Neuville. The Kiwi can also secure second in the standings with the final two rounds in Britain and Australia on his favoured dirt roads.
Results, RACCCatalunya-Rally de España (Rd 11 of 13):
- S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 3:13:03.6
- D. Sordo / M. Martí (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +15.6
- T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +1:15.0
- H. Paddon / J. Kennard (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +1:27.8
- M. Østberg / O. Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:24.4
- O. Tanak / R. Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +5:24.9
- K. Abbring / S. Marshall (Hyundai i20 WRC) +7:31.3
- J. Kopecky / P. Dresler (Škoda Fabia R5) +9:05.1
- P. Tidemand / J. Andersson (Škoda Fabia R5) +9:20.4
- C. Breen / S. Martin (Citroën DS3 WRC) +9:57.1
Volkswagen's Sébastien Ogier ended a six-event winless streak in the FIA World Rally Championship ninth round at ADAC Rallye Deutschland.
The Frenchman’s 20.3s win was the third of his WRC career on Germany’s challenging asphalt roads and extended his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship standings by 14 points, while VW remained in command of the manufacturers’ championship with a 55-point lead. Ogier has won the past three years’ Australian WRC rounds and will return to the New South Wales Coffs Coast for the 2016 Kennards Hire Rally Australia on 17-20 November. Tickets for Rally Australia are available now from Ticketek.com.
In Germany, Ogier carefully guided his Polo R to the top of the leaderboard on his team’s all-important home event after enduring a difficult start on leg one, when he overshot a hairpin. When the event moved into the infamous Baumholder military proving ground, the triple world champion’s experience shone as he easily swept aside rally leader and teammate Andreas Mikkelsen. Ogier was able to control his pace at the front on the final leg and finished with a precisely-crafted advantage over Hyundai’s Dani Sordo.
“This is great. I haven’t had a chance to win on the recent rallies and I was missing that feeling for sure,” Ogier said at the finish, referring to the fact he had not won since Rally Sweden in February. “It’s been really exciting and a long time since I was battling like this for a win. I really had to push to beat the guys around me.”
The highlight of the final day was the battle behind Ogier for second place. Mikkelsen held the position until the first stage, but he was steadily reeled in by the Hyundai i20 WRC pair of Sordo and Thierry Neuville as their superior speed told. Sordo almost lost second position to his teammate on the final stage. With only 4.1s separating all three drivers entering the 14.84km Power Stage, success would need to be earned. Although Neuville topped the Power Stage times with a determined drive and scored an extra three championship points for his efforts, Sordo’s fourth-fastest time was enough to guarantee second place overall – by a margin of just 0.1s!
Neuville therefore claimed the final podium spot, while a disappointed Mikkelsen – who narrowly avoided a couple of Power Stage spins as he lost the brakes on his Polo R – had to settle for fourth. Completing the top six and the list of World Rally Cars that survived the full distance, Kiwi Hayden Paddon was a further three minutes behind in his Hyundai, while Mads Østberg had a frustrating time guiding his Ford Fiesta RS to sixth place. DMACK World Rally Team driver Ott Tänak retired on day two with an alternator- problem, while Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala and M-Sport World Rally Team driver Eric Camilli both retired on day one.
All three drivers returned to action after overnight repairs. Tänak reached the finish in 23rd place, while Latvala scored two championship points with the second-fastest Power Stage time and finished 48th overall. Camilli was 50th. Stéphane Lefebvre’s outing in his privately-entered DS 3 WRC ended on Saturday morning when he and co-driver Gabin Moreau crashed heavily on the 40km Panzerplatte Lang stage.
With Rally China on 8-11 September cancelled due to flood damage on the special stage roads, the WRC will break for almost six weeks until Rallye de France, starting in Corsica on 29 September.
RESULTS, ADAC Rallye Deutschland (WRC Rd 9 of 13):
- S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 3:00:26.7
- D. Sordo / M. Martí (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +20.3
- T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +20.4
- A. Mikkelsen / A. Jaeger (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +27.2
- H. Paddon / J. Kennard (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +3:34.8
- M. Østberg / O. Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:31.2
- E. Lappi / J. Ferm (Škoda Fabia R5) +8:36.8
- P. Tidemand / J. Andersson (Škoda Fabia R5) +8:52.5
- J. Kopecky / P. Dresler (Škoda Fabia R5) +9:44.2
- A. Kremer / P. Winklhofer (Škoda Fabia R5) +10:10.6
Volkswagen won the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in Sweden through Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) and remains unbeaten on ice and snow with the Polo R WRC. Four wins in a row at the only winter rally in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) For Ogier and Ingrassia, this latest victory was the third success in four years at this classic rally and their 34th in total. The road to victory demanded a herculean effort from the three-time world champions, for which Volkswagen was rewarded with its eleventh win in a row and 36th triumph in 41 rallies. The duo overcame the challenge of opening the route on roads covered with a layer of fresh snow, and thus having to sweep the road clear for the following cars, with one of the best displays of driving and navigating in recent years. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N) ended their home race in fourth place. In contrast, Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila had to abandon any hope of a fourth victory at the Rally Sweden on Friday, when they suffered a broken drive shaft.
Hyundai Motorsport is celebrating another podium result as Hayden Paddon clinched second place in Rally Sweden, the second round of the Rally. The result marks the first occasion that Hyundai Motorsport has taken back-to-back podium finishes in the WRC and also represents the second podium for the New Generation i20 WRC which only made its rally debut at Rallye Monte-Carlo last month. Further underlining the performance of the new car, Dani Sordo added a second top-six result to his 2016 tally, finishing in sixth place, having shown top-three potential prior to a puncture on Saturday morning. Thierry Neuville ensured all three New Generation i20 WRC cars completed the rally, although the Belgian’s rally was hampered by differential troubles on the opening day.
Temperatures above zero and persistent rain before the rally, heavy snowfall and frost during it: the competitors at the 2016 Rally Sweden had to battle changing and difficult conditions. During the Recce on Wednesday and Thursday, the special stages were dominated by soft loamy ground and mud. Once the rally started, and the cars hit full speed, they were faced with ice and fresh snow. Thanks to the huge commitment shown by the organiser and the many volunteers who worked tirelessly overnight to prepare the route, 68.37 per cent of the timed kilometres originally scheduled were completed. Full points are awarded if more than half of the route is completed.
A true rally sprint. The warm weather in Sweden and the persistent thawing ahead of the second WRC event of the year forced the organisers to cancel nine of the 21 special stages. This reduced the distance of the classified kilometres to 226.48 km - making the 2016 Rally Sweden the shortest WRC rally of all time. Before this, the 2015 Rally France at 245.35, the 2007 Rally Argentina at 248.90 and the 2011 Rally Jordan at 259.56 timed kilometres were the shortest competitions in WRC history.
FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Rally Sweden – Final Results
01. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen, 1h 59m 47.4s
02. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai, + 29.8s
03. Mads Østberg/Ola Fløene (N/N), Ford, + 55.6s
04. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N), Volkswagen, + 1m 10.8s
05. Ott Tänak/Raigo Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford, + 1m 50.7s
06. Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (E/E), Hyundai, + 2m 24.0s
07. Henning Solberg/Ilka Minor (N/A), Ford, + 2m 40.0s
08. Craig Breen/Scott Martin (IRL/GB), Citroën, + 2m 44.6s
09. Elfyn Evans/Craig Parry (GB/GB), Ford, + 5m 17.0s
10. Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (S/S), Škoda, + 5m 31.7s
Reigning FIA World Rally Champions Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia rounded off a near perfect season with victory on the final round of the championship, Wales Rally GB. A faultless performance by the Volkswagen crew saw them battle through wind and driving rain in the Welsh forests to claim their eighth win of the season, this time ahead of Citroën’s Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle and with 26 seconds in hand. Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Floene finished third, giving the Polo R WRC 26 podium results in 2015, its most successful season to date.
In the FIA World Rally Championship, Ogier, Ingrassia and Volkswagen Motorsport wrapped up the titles earlier in the season, but second and third positions are now confirmed for Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila and Mikkelsen/Floene respectively*. In the all-important Manufacturers’ Championship, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team fought hard to retain second ahead of Hyundai Motorsport.
Today’s route was by far the shortest with four stages and 36.43 competitive kilometres, but driving rain and gale force winds once again added to the challenge of one of the most traditional events on the WRC calendar. Neither Ogier, Meeke nor Mikkelsen needed to push to the maximum through the closing stages, leaving Latvala to take a clean sweep of stage victories, as well as claiming the additional points for the Power Stage win. Mikkelsen added to his tally with points for second and Robert Kubica, who finished ninth overall, was third in this stage.
Behind the leading trio, Dani Sordo moved into fourth following the retirement of Ott Tanak, the Estonian off the road in the first stage. Sordo’s team-mate Hayden Paddon finished under 10 seconds adrift in fifth and local hero Elfyn Evans was sixth in the lead Fiesta RS WRC. After his problems throughout the event, Mads Østberg eventually finished seventh and Stephane Lefebvre moved one place higher, into eighth, in his debut outing on the event in a world rally car. Lorenzo Bertelli moved back into the top 10, following Tanak’s retirement.
In the FIA WRC 2 Championship, Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula took a surprise win. The Finns were behind Eric Camilli going into the final stage but benefitted when the Frenchman had turbo problems and lost nearly a minute. In the FIA Junior / WRC 3 Championships, Norway’s Ole Christian Veiby and Anders Jaeger took their first win in the category, but the WRC 3 Championship title was provisionally claimed by Quentin Gilbert and Renaud Jamoul, who also won the Junior WRC Championship earlier in the year*.
The FIA World Rally Championship contenders now take a well-earned break from competition but return to action in January when the famous Rallye Monte-Carlo marks the start of the new season.
Wales Rally GB – Final Unofficial Results
|1. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia||
Volkswagen Polo R WRC
3hr 03min 02.0sec
|2. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle||
DS 3 WRC
3hr 03min 28.0sec
|3. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene||
Volkswagen Polo R WRC
3hr 03min 38.2sec
|4. Dani Sordo/Marc Marti||
Hyundai i20 WRC
3hr 05min 53.3sec
|5. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard||
Hyundai i20 WRC
3hr 06min 02.5sec
|6. Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt||
Ford Fiesta RS WRC
3hr 06min 11.1sec
|7. Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson||
DS 3 WRC
3hr 07min 30.4sec
|8. Stephane Lefebvre/Stephane Prevot||
DS 3 WRC
3hr 08min 40.4sec
|9. Robert Kubica/Maciek Szczepaniak||
Ford Fiesta RS WRC
3hr 09min 24.7sec
10. Lorenzo Bertelli/Lorenzo Granai
Ford Fiestas RS WRC
3hr 11min 07.0sec
FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers (after 13 of 13 rounds)
Sébastien Ogier (FRA)
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)
Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)
Mads Østberg (NOR)
Kris Meeke (GBR)
Thierry Neuville (BEL)
Elfyn Evans (GBR)
Dani Sordo (ESP)
Hayden Paddon (NZL)
Ott Tanak (EST)