Ogier leads in Wales with one day to go

The WRC season finale has just one day remaining to determine the final points. Ogier earned his crown early; however he wants the final victory of 2013!

Ogier leads in Wales with one day to go

Sebastien Ogier will take a lead of 20.3 seconds into the final day of Wales Rally GB as he chases his first victory on the World Championship counter.

The Volkswagen Polo R driver began Saturday’s third leg with a lead of 20.1sec over his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, and he maintained that advantage despite a determined challenge from the Finn.

Ogier wasn’t fastest on any of the day’s seven stages, but judged his pace perfectly on the slippery forest roads of mid-Wales to round off the day with a clean run through the short asphalt stage at Chirk Castle in front of thousands of spectators.

“We just conserved the gap today, that was the plan,” said the Frenchman, whose current personal best in Wales is the 11th he achieved in 2011.

“I wanted to keep Jari-Matti at the same difference and we did that. Now there are fifty kilometres to go, but Rally GB is never finished before the end. It’s very tricky and we have to stay concentrated. We need to do the same job we’ve done up to now.”

Between them, Ogier’s team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen and Latvala won all of the day’s five forest stages, with Mikkelsen fastest on the first two and Latvala taking a hat-trick in the afternoon.

But while Latvala was encouraged by his ability to take time out of Ogier on the latter tests, he ended the day concerned by his lack of pace earlier on.

“I don’t have a clear answer, and I wish I did,” he said. “It seems that especially in the morning on the gravel I don’t find the rhythm and it takes a couple of stages for me to get into it. I need to concentrate tomorrow. Maybe I’m loading too much pressure on myself but to beat Ogier you have to be ready in all conditions.”

Thierry Neuville is third on his last outing in a Ford Fiesta RS before a switch to Hyundai for 2014. The Belgian had a largely trouble free day, but was kept under pressure from Mikkelsen behind.

A lack of split times in Neuville’s car in the afternoon didn’t help him judge his speed, but the Belgian competed the day with a 20sec advantage. “I’ve always been close to the fastest except on the long stage, so I can be really pleased with my day,” he said.

Mikkelsen was satisfied too, having come out best in a three-way battle for fourth that became a duel on SS11 when Evgeny Novikov rolled out. “It’s been a great day, I’m happy that we managed to pull a little time back, [from Neuville] and we set some great times with no moments. It’s been fantastic,” he said.

Mads Ostberg is fifth, just 7.3sec further back, in his Qatar M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS. The Norwegian got a big step closer to Mikkelsen on the final forest stage, thanks in part to some suspension set-up advice from his father, and has fourth place in his sights on Sunday.

“It’s been a pretty good day for us,” he acknowledged. “We’ve found some improvements today and we can definitely try to fight back. I’m off to bed now for a good sleep. Tomorrow I’ll start with a good breakfast and then it’s flat-out!”

After Ostberg there is a gap of almost five minutes to Ford Fiesta RS driver Martin Prokop in sixth.

Dani Sordo is seventh, and Citroen’s sole remaining factory entry after Robert Kubica crashed out today for a second time. The Pole restarted after a crash on day two, but went off the road on SS11 after a pace-note misunderstanding.

WRC 2 leaders Elfyn Evans, Jari Ketomaa and Mark Higgins round off the top ten.

Sunday’s final day kicks off at 0856hrs with the 21.34km Dyfnant stage. The rally winner is scheduled to cross the finish podium in Llandudno at 1311hrs.

FIA WRC

shares
comments
More spills than thrills for Citroën

Previous article

More spills than thrills for Citroën

Next article

Sordo continues fightback in Wales

Sordo continues fightback in Wales
Load comments
How Finland's newest rally hero made WRC history in Estonia Prime

How Finland's newest rally hero made WRC history in Estonia

Kalle Rovanpera broke a decade-old record in becoming the World Rally Championship's youngest-ever winner in a truly dominant performance on Estonia's fast gravel roads. Staving off the challenge of Hyundai's Craig Breen, his committed drive showed a maturity beyond his 20 years that gives Toyota's post-Ogier era a far brighter complexion

WRC
Jul 19, 2021
How WRC's new Safari adventure ended with a familiar tale Prime

How WRC's new Safari adventure ended with a familiar tale

The World Rally Championship’s delayed return to the Safari Rally was always set throw up some surprises, but aside from a spirited showing by Thierry Neuville it became another painful event for Hyundai in 2021. Once again it was Sebastien Ogier who took full advantage as he completed a stunning comeback drive

WRC
Jun 28, 2021
Remembering Colin McRae’s final WRC win Prime

Remembering Colin McRae’s final WRC win

The Safari Rally returns to the World Rally Championship this weekend for the first time since 2002 - when crowd favourite Colin McRae set aside the maximum attack style for which he was renowned to deliver a textbook third win.

WRC
Jun 23, 2021
How Hyundai's broken record gave Toyota a special Sardinia 1-2 Prime

How Hyundai's broken record gave Toyota a special Sardinia 1-2

For the second WRC gravel rally in a row, a promising Friday for Hyundai turned into desolation as Toyota gratefully picked up the pieces. This time it was championship leader Sebastien Ogier who took full advantage after Ott Tanak and Dani Sordo retired to score a memorable victory, having swept the road on the first two days

WRC
Jun 7, 2021
Why there's no easy fix for Hyundai's operational Achilles Heel Prime

Why there's no easy fix for Hyundai's operational Achilles Heel

Hyundai Motorsport boss Andrea Adamo was vocal in his criticism of his team's tyre choices on Rally Croatia and declared that he "had better move my ass and solve it". Doing so will be vital to getting Hyundai's 2021 WRC title hopes back on track, but finding the root of the problem won't be the work of a moment

WRC
Apr 28, 2021
How Ogier survived road crash drama to triumph in Croatia Prime

How Ogier survived road crash drama to triumph in Croatia

Sebastien Ogier was already in an incredibly tight fight at Rally Croatia before a surprise collision with public road traffic at the start of the final day. But the defending champion held his nerve to take a narrow victory and create further World Rally Championship history

WRC
Apr 26, 2021
Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads Prime

Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads

With all three major manufacturers committing to the World Rally Championship’s hybrid era from 2022, the future of the series is assured for now, but it could lead to trickier twists and turns further down the road

WRC
Apr 1, 2021
How Tanak froze out the competition at the Arctic Rally Prime

How Tanak froze out the competition at the Arctic Rally

Ott Tanak made up for a disastrous Monte Carlo Rally by leading all the way on the snow-kissed stages of the Arctic Rally Finland and in the process hit back at an event Toyota had been expected to dominate…

WRC
Mar 1, 2021