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WRC Rally Greece

Ogier explains luckless WRC Acropolis Rally exit

Sebastien Ogier has explained a series of events that ended his World Rally Championship Acropolis Rally victory bid, after failing to nurse a wounded Toyota back to the service park.

The eight-time world rally champion was locked in a fight for victory with Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville, with the pair swapping positions across Saturday’s stages.

Ogier inherited the rally lead on stage nine when Neuville a hit a hole in the road that caused terminal suspension damage.

That left Ogier, who is driving a part-time WRC season this year, with a 12.4s advantage over Toyota team-mate and championship leader Kalle Rovanpera until drama struck in the day’s last test.

The Frenchman suffered a double rear puncture before his rally ultimately came to an end when his left rear suspension failed.

Ogier managed to finish the stage, losing four minutes which demoted him to fourth overall, but was forced to abandon an effort to reach the service park.

“The whole afternoon was actually quite eventful,” said Ogier. “It started I think at the same corner Thierry had his issue as I also had an impact, it was quite hard to avoid this hole.

“My front right wishbone was also a bit damaged, but obviously it was still driveable. I managed to fix it and was still managing to have good pace in this stage and the next one.

“And then when I restarted from the re-group there was no hybrid anymore. Obviously I knew I would lose a bit of time without hybrid, but that was not the biggest issue we had.

“After a couple of kilometres, we started to have a puncture in the rear and almost after that a second one appeared, so we had a double puncture on the rear and then I decided to carry on slowly.

“Unfortunately on the exit of hairpin, that looked like one of the smoothest on the stage, I heard a bang on the rear and my upright was broken. When an upright is broken it is very hard to bring the car back, but I tried everything I could.

“We managed to do a couple of kilometres, but with 12 kilometres to service... We almost could have made it but it started to be not decent to continue, because we were losing a lot of parts.”

Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Ogier admitted it was a tough retirement to take, but confirmed that he will rejoin the rally on Sunday under restart rules.

“Of course it is always tough to take and is always frustrating,” he added. “Somehow since I’m not doing the full championship anymore, the luck has been lost a bit, maybe that is the price to pay.

“It is never nice but there is still two [Toyota] cars on the podium and Kalle was doing a great job anyway so you cannot say that he has stolen this victory.

“He was first on the road yesterday and did everything he could. Of course, I would have liked to fight with him until the end.”

Ogier’s exit has handed Rovanpera a 2m04.4s lead over Hyundai’s Dani Sordo, with Toyota’s Elfyn Evans third and M-Sport’s Ott Tanak boosted to fourth.

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