Yet another topsy-turvy round in the FIA World Rally Championship saw M-Sport’s Sebastien Ogier with Julien Ingrassia take a much needed win in Wales Rally GB for his 2018 title hopes.
The Frenchman didn’t start off well on Friday when he finished fifth on the day as Toyota’s Ott Tanak (co-driver Martin Jarveoja) led the way with Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville (co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul) in second.
Tanak controlled the day with five stage wins (SS2, SS3, SS4, SS7 and SS8) with Neuville winning SS5 and SS9 to be second despite the slower start he had. For Ogier, it was a frustrating day after encountering gearbox issues.
To add further, he endure two spins to drop to eighth at one stage before clawing back into fifth. While Friday was downbeat for Ogier, Saturday turned in a delight when both Tanak and Neuville had troubles to face.
The Frenchman shot into the lead in SS16 when Tanak retired due to mechanical issues. He already moved to third in the first stage of the day and took second in SS1 when Neuville slid the Hyundai i20 into a ditch.
He returned to finish the day in eighth while Tanak was classified 22nd. Ogier’s lead didn’t come easy as he had Toyota’s Jari-Matti Latvala (co-driver Miikka Anttila) on his tail with Esapekka Lappi (co-driver Janne Ferm) not far behind.
Ogier won only SS10 & SS15 with Tanak winning SS12, Latvala SS14 & SS17 and the rest shared between Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen (co-driver Anders Jaeger-Synnevaag, SS13, SS16, SS18) and Citroen’s Mads Ostberg (co-driver Torstein Eriksen, SS11).
It then became a close fight between Ogier and Latvala on the final day with the Toyota driver doing as much to not allow Ogier to score the extra points so as to help Tanak remain in the title hunt.
The Finn actually took the lead after winning the SS20 but Ogier won SS21 & SS20 to regain the top spot heading into the final and Power Stage. The Frenchman went on to not only win the stage but also the rally – his first since Rally France.
With Neuville finishing fifth, Ogier is now only seven points behind the Belgian with two rallies to go. The gap between Neuville and Tanak is extended to 21 points after the Estonian could only manage 19th place.
Behind Ogier was Latvala in second with Lappi finishing third to complete the podium while Citroen’s Craig Breen (co-driver Scott Martin) had a consistent run on all the days to be fourth from the aforementioned Neuville.
In sixth was Mikkelsen, close behind Neuville with teammate Hayden Paddon (co-driver Sebastian Marshall) finishing seventh ahead of Ostberg to round out the WRC drivers inside the Top 10.