WRC – Back in the fight as Ogier wins in Wales

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have reignited their FIA World Rally Championship defence with victory at this weekend’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB.

Piloting their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC to the top step of the podium, the Frenchmen secured a momentous fifth victory on Welsh soil – making them the event’s most successful pairing in history. Most importantly however, the result sees them climb back into second place in the driver and co-driver standings – now just seven points shy of the lead with two events and 60 points still up for grabs!

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said: “This victory really does mean a lot to the whole team. We knew that we could deliver a strong result this weekend and that all three of our crews had the ability to fight for the top positions. But on Friday evening it looked as though all hope of another win on home soil was gone – Sébastien had lost time with a transmission issue, Elfyn had been forced to retire with a misfire, and Teemu had sustained damage to the rollcage. It wasn’t looking great and I was thinking what a different 12 months can make! But you really can never discount Sébastien. He and Julien delivered a true champions’ drive and suddenly I was thinking what a different 24 hours can make! Locked in such an intense battle today, they showed what this victory means to them; and their performance through the last three stages was brilliant. It puts us back on track in the driver and co-driver standings and I’m as excited as every rally fan to see how it plays out over the last two events.”

OGIER AND INGRASSIA WINNER AT WALES RALLY GB

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia delivered another champions’ performance today – securing a hard-fought and exciting victory that reignites their championship defence. Going into the final day of competition, the reigning World Champions were locked in an intense battle with fellow Wales Rally GB winners, Jari Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila. As the excitement got underway the Frenchmen held a 4.4 second advantage over their rivals. Then the battle intensified as two strong stages from Latvala put the Finn 3.6 seconds clear at the head of the field. But Ogier wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass him by. Pushing hard, the World Champion delivered a sensational performance over the final three speed tests – three inspired fastest stage times securing the win by 10.6 seconds. The victory is Ogier and Ingrassia’s fifth on Welsh soil and could prove pivotal in what is turning into one of the most thrilling championship battles for decades.

Sébastien Ogier (1st) said: “It’s been a great weekend for us and one with a lot of different emotions. I’m very proud to have won this rally for the fifth time, especially because we know how challenging and tough it is to stay on the road and not make mistakes in these conditions. We had a very difficult start on Friday and thought the rally was almost over, but then we fought back with everything we had. We knew that the podium was still within our reach and when Ott [Tänak] had his problems it became a big fight for the win. Jari-Matti [Latvala] was determined to win himself and was very quick, which forced us to react. Luckily I was able to finish the rally with three perfect stages – especially SS22 which was as close to perfection as I can get and I’m glad I could make the difference there. It’s a great step in the right direction for the championship and puts us right back in the fight. The last two rallies will be exciting and the intensity is going to be higher than ever. I’m looking forward to Spain now, where we can perform well I think, followed by Australia where it will probably all be decided. I’m sure the fans will love a close fight and I’m excited for the end of the season.”

EVANS AND BARRITT TWENTIETH AT WALES RALLY GB

Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt were in the fight for a second successive victory on home soil, but hopes of another Welsh win were dashed when their Ford Fiesta WRC developed a misfire on Friday afternoon. Forced to retire on the liaison to the second loop of stages, Evans was denied an opportunity to challenge for the top step of the podium – and Welsh hearts were broken.

Elfyn Evans (20th / Rally 2) said: “It’s been a really disappointing rally for us as we knew we had the speed and performance to challenge for the victory this weekend. It’s one of those things and after retiring with the misfire on Friday we just had to focus on getting through without any issues. At some points I was surprised at the times as we really weren’t pushing at all, but there isn’t a lot we can take away from this weekend. That said, it was great to see all the spectators out on the stages and such a fantastic atmosphere at the finish in Llandudno!”

OVERALL CLASSIFICATION

1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3:06:12.5
2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +10.6
3. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +35.1
4. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +1:10.4
5. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:14.4
6. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:15.9
7. Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshal (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:18.4
8. Mads Østberg / Torstein Eriksen (Citroen C3 WRC) +1:21.6
9. Kalle Rovanperä / Jonne Halttunen (Skoda Fabia R5) +9:14.7
10. Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson (Skoda Fabia R5) +10:48.9

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

1. Thierry Neuville – 189
2. Sébastien Ogier – 182
3. Ott Tänak – 168
4. Esapekka Lappi – 104
5. Jari-Matti Latvala – 98
6. Andreas Mikkelsen – 83
7. Dani Sordo – 60
8. Craig Breen – 59
9. Hayden Paddon – 55
10. Teemu Suninen – 54
11. Elfyn Evans – 53

MANUFACTURERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

1. Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC – 317
2. Hyundai Motorsport – 297
3. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team – 273
4. Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team – 187

Gus Greensmith (3rd WRC 2 / 3rd RC4) said: “It’s been a good rally for us and I was really happy with our performance on Friday. Unfortunately when we were in a big battle with Pontus [Tidemand] – and having got the gap down to just four seconds – I had a fairly high-speed spin which increased the gap too much. After that it was just a case of staying calm, keeping the pace up, and making sure the gap didn’t get any bigger. That’s what we did and I was happy to secure another podium finish. It was a good way to end the season and we’re still in third place in the championship so it would be nice if it stays like that at the end of the year !”

Matt Edwards (1st BRC / 9th RC4) said: “We struggled a little bit this morning and it was pretty difficult to be honest. We did the same as yesterday and softened the set-up which gave a lot more feeling in the car. But the times weren’t great today and once David [Bogie] went off we backed off and just drove around. As undramatic as that may sound, that is what we had to do as I didn’t want to risk any damage. Overall from the weekend we are really happy, we have worked hard to maximise this opportunity to get the best possible result – tweaking the set-up and swapping the tyres to make sure we had done everything we could. Of course you are never going to have everything perfect in rally, but overall we are really happy.”

Alex Laffey (2nd BRC / 11th RC4) said: “We took it at our own pace today. We were cautious where we needed to be, and pushed hard when we could and it was good to see our times getting closer. But today it was all about finishing and when David [Bogie] went off and handed us extra points it was great to take second overall on the rally as well as second overall in the British Rally Championship – so all in all we are pretty happy !”

Gaurav Gill (12th RC4) said: “It’s been a great rally for us with a lot of learning over the weekend. This is something that we haven’t done before, a very slippery surface which we had never encountered, either for our tyres or ourselves. It was a great weekend to collect a lot of important data and a lot of learning about the tyres for the future. We had some really good times and we are really happy with the experience that we have gained and we look forward to going to Australia next.”

Éric Camilli (10th WRC 2 / 14th RC4 / Rally 2) said: “The rally went well and I was happy with the pace we showed. It was a bit frustrating to retire with the punctures on Friday, but we showed good speed and proved that we could have fought for the top positions so I am happy with that.”

Press release M-Sport Ford

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