OGIER’S POIGNANT GB WIN WRAPS UP WRC SEASON

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OGIER’S POIGNANT GB WIN WRAPS UP WRC SEASON

PHOTO: World Rally Championship teams and officials observe a minute’s silence for the Paris terror victims after Wales Rally GB (Volkswagen pic)

  • Monday 16 November 2015
  • Ogier dedicates victory to Paris victims
  • Storms make for muddy marathon
  • Australia to take over season finale in 2016

FRANCE’S Sébastien Ogier claimed an emotional victory at a storm-lashed Wales Rally GB on Sunday and dedicated his success to the victims of the terrorist attack in Paris.

The three-time world champion considered pulling out of the final round of the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship on Saturday morning but decided to continue and secured his eighth victory of the season by 26.0sec from Ulsterman Kris Meeke, whose French Citroën team also persevered despite the tragedy.

“We’re happy to finish the season like that from a sporting view, but my mind wasn’t really there this weekend,” said Ogier, who with co-driver Julien Ingrassia unfurled the French flag across the windscreen of their Volkswagen Polo R WRC at the end of a 310 kilometre muddy marathon.

“It was hard to carry on after the tragedy in France and our thoughts were with the people. We wanted this victory as our small sign for those who have been touched and to show we must be even stronger against these things.”

The rally ended an historic season for Ogier and Volkswagen, each winning third straight World Rally Championships.

Wales Rally GB was Ogier’s eighth win in the 13-round season, while Volkswagen drivers won all but one round. On Saturday, the team celebrated its 500th stage win since joining the championship in 2013 and the Polo R WRC is now the most successful car in WRC history.

The weekend also marked an end to Wales Rally GB’s position as the WRC season finale, with the 2016 calendar giving the prize spot to Rally Australia on the New South Wales Coffs Coast on 17-20 November.

Ogier led the three-day Welsh event from start to finish in some of the worst conditions of the year. Torrential rain and gale-force winds pounded the forests of north and mid-Wales, but Ogier never put a wheel out of place on treacherous gravel tracks.

Sébastien Ogier (F), Julien Ingrassia (F) Volkswagen Polo R WRC (2015) WRC Rally Great Britain 2015

PHOTO: Spectators brave gale-force conditions as Sebastien Ogier tackles Wales Rally GB (Volkswagen pic)

Meeke also delivered a perfect performance. The DS3 driver refused to risk all in chasing Ogier, taking a measured approach which, combined with Mads Østberg’s seventh place, enabled Citroën to beat Hyundai for second in the manufacturers’ championship.

Andreas Mikkelsen completed the podium in another Polo R, but it wasn’t enough to secure second in the drivers’ championship. That went to teammate Jari-Matti Latvala, who twice retired in the opening two legs before claiming maximum bonus points in Sunday’s event-closing Power Stage.

M-Sport Ford Fiesta driver Ott Tänak crashed out of fourth in Sunday’s opening stage, allowing Dani Sordo to regain the place he yielded earlier by spinning into a bank. The Hyundai i20 driver finished 9.2sec ahead of teammate Hayden Paddon of New Zealand.

Welshman Elfyn Evans delighted home fans with sixth in a Ford Fiesta, 8.6sec behind Paddon and 1min 20sec ahead of Østberg. The Norwegian ran as high as fourth before sliding into a ditch and spent much of the rally mopping up muddy water which entered his DS3’s cockpit through a hole in the floor.

Stéphane Lefebvre overcame flu to take eighth in another DS3, with Robert Kubica and Lorenzo Bertelli completing the leaderboard.

Although the season has ended, the manufacturer teams will go into testing almost immediately with the first 2016 round just 10 weeks away, at Rallye Monte-Carlo on 24-26 January.

RESULTS (provisional), Wales Rally GB (Rd 13 of 13)

1 S Ogier/J Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 3:03:02.0

2 K Meeke/P Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC) +26.0

3 A Mikkelsen/O Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +36.2

4 D Sordo/M Martí (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:51.3

5 H Paddon/J Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:00.5

6 E Evans/D Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:09.1

7 M Østberg/J Andersson (Citroën DS3 WRC) +4:28.4

8 S Lefebvre/S Prévot (Citroën DS3 WRC) +5:38.4

9 R Kubica/M Szczepaniak (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +6:22.7

10 L Bertelli/L Granai (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +8:05.0

FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers (after Rd 13)

1 S Ogier 263 points
2 J-M Latvala 183
3 A Mikkelsen 171
4 M Østberg 116
5 K Meeke 112
6 T Neuville 90
7 E Evans 89
8 D Sordo 89
9 H Paddon 84
10 O Tanak 63

FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers (after Rd 13)

1 Volkswagen Motorsport 413 points
2 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 230
3 Hyundai Motorsport 224
4 M-Sport World Rally Team 181
5 Volkswagen Motorsport II 131

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Chris Nixon

Chris Nixon is Media Manager for Kennards Hire Rally Australia.