World Champion Sebastien Ogier concludes campaign with victory number eight

Two-time FIA World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier clinched the final victory of the season on Wales Rally GB today (16 November), as British drivers grabbed the headlines with a podium challenge from Kris Meeke and standout performances throughout the field.

​With a comfortable overnight lead, all Ogier needed to do today was pace himself to the end – and he did so to perfection, winding up 37.6 seconds clear of his closest pursuer to conclude his championship-winning campaign with a commanding eighth triumph.“I’m delighted with this victory – that was the target,” he acknowledged. “We started by going flat-out on Friday, but then my rally completely changed following Jari-Matti’s [Latvala – team-mate] mistake on Saturday morning.

​“After that, it became a case of controlling everything, but since this was a proper Wales Rally GB with tricky conditions over all three days, there was never any room to relax.​“It’s so difficult to find the right balance between pushing too hard and going too slow and losing the feeling with the car. I had to fight against myself a bit, because even with a good lead, it’s still far from easy and the key was to avoid all the potential pitfalls. There’s no doubt that this is absolutely the best way to finish the season.”​Behind the Frenchman, a see-saw battle continued to rage between the Ford Fiesta RS WRC of M-Sport World Rally Team’s Mikko Hirvonen and home hero Kris Meeke in the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team DS3 WRC.

​A scant 1.6 seconds separated the pair with three stages and just over 22 kilometres left to run and a nail-biting finish looked assured, until disaster struck for Meeke on Alwen 2 with a second puncture of the day that cost him more than half-a-minute and dropped the Northern Irishman to fifth.​With the pressure removed, Hirvonen safely brought his car home in second position, matching his best finish of the season on his WRC swansong and deservedly accepting the plaudits for a superb performance. Arguably the most popular result of the rally, the Finn admitted that it had been an emotional weekend and that he was delighted to be able to bid farewell from the podium – his 69th from 163 starts.

“I'm so happy,” Hirvonen enthused. “I couldn't have asked for a better end to my WRC career. It was a fantastic fight – one of the best I’ve ever had. In these conditions, everybody makes small mistakes here and there, and we certainly had our share – but we pushed really hard and it paid off.​“It was a strange feeling this morning, going into service for the last time and saying goodbye to all the guys in the team. I couldn’t really concentrate, so we didn’t have the best rhythm over the first few stages of the day.“I’m going to miss so many things from the rallying world and everybody involved and I have so many people to thank, but now it’s over, I’m ready to go home and spend some more time with my family.”

​A tantalising three-way tussle behind was resolved in favour of Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s Mads Østberg, who claimed consecutive stage wins on Brenig 1 and Alwen 1 to edge clear of his immediate pursuers. That appeared to have secured the Norwegian fourth place, but his team-mate’s late drama promoted him to the final step of the rostrum.​Hyundai Shell World Rally Team star Thierry Neuville wound up a strong fourth in his i20 WRC – making it four different manufacturers filling the top four spots – ahead of local favourite Elfyn Evans in the second M-Sport World Rally Team Fiesta RS WRC and the luckless Meeke.

​Tyre troubles obliged the Citroën man to take things easy over the event-ending Power Stage, but he had nonetheless thrilled fans with his flat-out efforts in the demanding Welsh forests throughout the weekend. Whilst understandably disappointed with the outcome after such an enthralling duel, he reflected that it had been ‘a very good learning year’, with particularly strong form over the second half of the season. Much the same could be said for fellow Brit Evans.​“At the beginning of the event, we would definitely have taken this result,” the Welshman reflected. “The overall performance over the weekend was quite strong, but there were areas where we could have been better.​“This year has been a solid start to my WRC career – a bit up-and-down for sure, but we have an excellent bank of experience to build upon in the future. Next year will be the most important one for me to really prove that we can compete at the highest level.​“The team has been great all year. I’ve got on really well with the guys and I’m really looking forward to continuing with them next year. I owe a massive thanks to M-Sport and Malcolm Wilson in particular for giving me this opportunity and trusting me in the car, and now we are in a really good position to make progress going forward.”

​Notwithstanding a morning puncture, Ott Tänak concluded proceedings placed seventh, not far ahead of the recovering Latvala in the second Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC. With nine fastest times to his name – including the points-paying, rain-plagued Power Stage, which he completed with part of a Christmas tree attached to the front of his car – the Finn won more stages than anybody else, but his Saturday morning ‘off’ undoubtedly cost him a shot at victory.​Following a late retirement for Henning Solberg with a fuel leak, Martin Prokop piloted his Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC to a solid ninth, with Hayden Paddon rounding out the top ten for Hyundai Motorsport N ahead of former grand prix-winner Robert Kubica. The third VW of Andreas Mikkelsen was forced into retirement on SS19, when a slide into a ditch culminated in a burnt-out clutch.

​There was further cheer for British competitors in the support categories, with Matthew Wilson just pipping young Welshman Tom Cave to third in WRC 2 behind class winner Jari Ketomaa, as sixth place for Nasser Al-Attiyah was sufficient to secure the Qatari the championship laurels.

​Osian Pryce came home as the leading non-Priority driver in 18th overall, with Alastair Fisher a comfortable winner in WRC 3 – a result that guaranteed the Northern Irishman the runner-up spoils in the final Junior World Rally Championship standings. Chris Ingram and Benjamyn McKay also triumphed in their respective classes. Cricketing legend Graeme Swann made it to the finish on his rallying debut, being classified a creditable 45th in the National contest.


1. 1 FRAS. OGIER M RC1 3:03:08.2 3:03:08.2 2. 5 FINM. HIRVONEN M RC1 3:03:45.8 3:03:45.8 +37.6 +37.63. 4 NORM. OSTBERG M RC1 3:04:01.8 00:10 3:04:11.8 +26.0 +1:03.64. 7 BELT. NEUVILLE M RC1 3:04:23.1 3:04:23.1 +11.3 +1:14.95. 6 GBRE. EVANS M RC1 3:04:32.5 3:04:32.5 +9.4 +1:24.36. 3 GBRK. MEEKE M RC1 3:05:01.2 00:10 3:05:11.2 +38.7 +2:03.07. 22 ESTO. TANAK RC1 3:05:37.9 3:05:37.9 +26.7 +2:29.78. 2 FINJ. LATVALA M RC1 3:05:55.7 3:05:55.7 +17.8 +2:47.59. 21 CZEM. PROKOP T RC1 3:06:51.5 3:06:51.5 +55.8 +3:43.310. 20 NZLH. PADDON T RC1 3:06:56.7 3:06:56.7 +5.2 +3:48.511. 10 POLR. KUBICA T RC1 3:07:27.6 3:07:27.6 +30.9 +4:19.412. 35 FINJ. KETOMAA WRC 2 RC2 3:14:08.1 3:14:08.1 +6:40.5 +10:59.913. 37 ITAL. BERTELLI WRC 2 RC2 3:15:05.5 3:15:05.5 +57.4 +11:57.314. 31 GBRM. WILSON WRC 2 RC2 3:15:25.3 3:15:25.3 +19.8 +12:17.115. 46 GBRT. CAVE WRC 2 RC2 3:15:36.5 3:15:36.5 +11.2 +12:28.316. 36 ESTK. KRUUDA WRC 2 RC2 3:16:09.7 3:16:09.7 +33.2 +13:01.517. 32 QATN. AL ATTIYAH WRC 2 RC2 3:16:45.1 3:16:45.1 +35.4 +13:36.918. 83 GBRO. PRYCE RC2 3:17:07.5 3:17:07.5 +22.4 +13:59.319. 40 UKRV. GORBAN WRC 2 RC2 3:17:28.9 3:17:28.9 +21.4 +14:20.720. 80 UKRY. PROTASOV RC2 3:19:12.1 3:19:12.1 +1:43.2 +16:03.921. 39 FRAQ. GILBERT WRC 2 RC2 3:20:33.2 3:20:33.2 +1:21.1 +17:25.022. 82 GBRP. MORROW RC2 3:25:29.9 3:25:29.9 +4:56.7 +22:21.723. 41 PERN. FUCHS WRC 2 RC2 3:25:40.6 3:25:40.6 +10.7 +22:32.424. 86 NORP. TRY RC2 3:28:19.2 3:28:19.2 +2:38.6 +25:11.025. 81 GBRE. THORBURN RC2 3:28:12.4 01:50 3:30:02.4 +1:43.2 +26:54.226. 62 GBRA. FISHER WRC 3 JWRC RC3 3:31:20.1 3:31:20.1 +1:17.7 +28:11.927. 85 IRLJ. MOFFETT RC2 3:31:46.4 3:31:46.4 +26.3 +28:38.228. 56 SVKM. KOCI WRC 3 JWRC RC3 3:32:38.9 3:32:38.9 +52.5 +29:30.729. 88 NORS. FRUSTOL RC2 3:33:11.4 00:10 3:33:21.4 +42.5 +30:13.230. 8 FINJ. HANNINEN M RC1 3:33:35.0 00:20 3:33:55.0 +33.6 +30:46.831. 73 FINH. HAAPAMAKI WRC 3 JWRC RC3 3:34:14.6 3:34:14.6 +19.6 +31:06.432. 58 AUSM. TAYLOR WRC 3 JWRC RC3 3:35:57.2 3:35:57.2 +1:42.6 +32:49.033. 38 GRCJ. SERDERIDIS WRC 2 RC2 3:36:46.2 3:36:46.2 +49.0 +33:38.034. 92 NORO. VEIBY RC3 3:37:00.7 3:37:00.7 +14.5 +33:52.535. 57 FRAS. LEFEBVRE WRC 2 RC2 3:37:29.6 3:37:29.6 +28.9 +34:21.436. 53 POLA. DOMZALA WRC 3 JWRC RC3 3:37:31.9 3:37:31.9 +2.3 +34:23.737. 94 IRLB. CUMISKEY RC2 3:36:44.9 01:00 3:37:44.9 +13.0 +34:36.738. 90 GBRJ. GREER RC3 3:39:18.3 00:10 3:39:28.3 +1:43.4 +36:20.139. 97 GBRC. INGRAM RC4 3:40:23.5 00:10 3:40:33.5 +1:05.2 +37:25.340. 95 GBRW. UTTING RC2 3:40:36.8 3:40:36.8 +3.3 +37:28.641. 106 IRLD. RAFTERY RC4 3:42:56.4 3:42:56.4 +2:19.6 +39:48.242. 109 GBRG. GREENSMITH RC4 3:44:59.7 3:44:59.7 +2:03.3 +41:51.543. 91 GBRS. WILLIAMS RC2 3:45:16.9 01:30 3:46:46.9 +1:47.2 +43:38.744. 102 GBRS. WILKINSON RC2 3:50:35.0 01:10 3:51:45.0 +4:58.1 +48:36.845. 104 JPNS. OHBA RC4 3:57:52.9 00:20 3:58:12.9 +6:27.9 +55:04.746. 47 POLJ. KOLTUN WRC 2 RC2 3:59:39.0 01:20 4:00:59.0 +2:46.1 +57:50.847. 93 GBRT. JARDINE RC2 4:01:56.0 00:10 4:02:06.0 +1:07.0 +58:57.848. 110 GBRT. SIMPSON RC4 4:06:35.6 00:40 4:07:15.6 +5:09.6 +1:04:07.449. 55 FRAQ. GIORDANO WRC 3 JWRC RC3 3:54:57.8 15:00 4:09:57.8 +2:42.2 +1:06:49.650. 99 GBRG. PEARSON RC4 4:11:06.4 00:20 4:11:26.4 +1:28.6 +1:08:18.251. 103 GBRB. MCKAY RC5 4:12:38.6 4:12:38.6 +1:12.2 +1:09:30.452. 105 GBRS. KAKAD RC4 4:18:16.3 01:00 4:19:16.3 +6:37.7 +1:16:08.153. 98 POLH. PTASZEK RC4 5:00:09.5 5:00:09.5 +40:53.2 +1:57:01.3

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