Sébastien Ogier rounded off a dominant debut WRC season at Volkswagen with victory today on the final round of the championship, Wales Rally GB.
It was the ninth win of the year for the Frenchman, who, driving a Polo R, secured the 2013 FIA drivers’ title as early as the Rallye de France, in October.
Ogier took the lead in Wales on Thursday’s opening stage and controlled his pace perfectly, fending off a sustained attack from his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, a two-time winner here, on the slippery forest roads of mid and north-Wales.
After celebrating with co-driver Julien Ingrassia at the end of the decisive Great Orme stage, Ogier said he was delighted to have eclipsed his previous best in Wales of a lowly 11th in 2011.
|Julien Ingrassia, Sébastien Ogier (VW Motorsport)|
Latvala finished as runner up, 21.8 seconds behind Ogier in Volkswagen’s second Polo R. The Finn had an inconsistent rally that featured stage winning highs as well as frustrating lows when he couldn’t find a confident feeling at the wheel.
A final day push for the lead started well, with Latvala narrowing the gap to Ogier to just 19.5 seconds after the two opening stages. But a stall at a junction on Clocaenog (SS19) cost him six seconds and ended the charge.
Belgium’s Thierry Neuville was third, 1m 02.7s further back, to round off a remarkable season with the Qatar World Rally Team and, more importantly, secure second spot in the WRC drivers’ championship.
Ford Fiesta RS driver Mads Ostberg was fourth, 27.7 seconds behind Neuville, after a tense duel with his fellow Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen. Ostberg eventually won the duel, as Mikkelsen spun twice on Sunday.
Martin Prokop was sixth in a Fiesta RS, more than five minutes behind Mikkelsen, with Dani Sordo seventh, as the sole factory Citroen finisher, having dropped out of contention before the start with a five-minute penalty.
The lead trio in the WRC 2 category, Elfyn Evans, Jari Ketomaa and Mark Higgins rounded off the top ten.