BLOG: Record-breaking Ogier High Five of Wales Rally GB Wins In Absolute Classic Event

The utterly sublime Sébastien Ogier made history in front of 1000's of rally fans and families in  Llandudno’s town centre, flying off the iconic Great Orme yesterday – becoming the first driver in history to triumph five times on the legendary, historic, testing Welsh event. And his 44th WRC win (think about that for a moment!) puts him right back in contention for a sixth WRC title, as he's now just seven points behind Hyundai's Thierry Neuville, with two to go.

After Ott Tanak's dominant display of driving went into demise following an unfortunate, very heavy landing in Sweet Lamb wrecked his Toyota on Saturday, it was an inch perfect and insanely committed display of driving from Ogier – even seeing him past a hard-charging Jari-Matti Latvala, who was on fire on #SISUSunday, blitzing the power stage win (much to Tanak's annoyance) and taking the lead of the event. It really was so good to see the legend JML get some luck and show his undeniably insane pace when he has "the feeling," but, ultimately, even that was't enough to beat master tactician and car preservation master Ogier (tell that to the mechanics who fixed the gearbox he broke on Saturday!). 
With his new gearbox, the utterly committed Frenchman remained tranquil and pulled le lapin out of the hat, again, to see off Latvala – demolishing the great Orme with his M-Sport Fiesta slewing about on its medium gravel tyres and wallowy forest stage set-up. It was a mesmerising display of champion-like prowess and inch-perfect driving in front of the crowds and a live global TV audience. There could only have been one possible outcome...

The event also saw WRC history being made, as World Championship motor sport came to Britain’s streets for the first time, with closed public road sections and the finish along the parade at Llandudno. The drivers seemed to like it as much as the fans, so we can expect more of it next year – meaning longer, linked-up classic Rally GB special stages, using timed road sections, we hope. 50Km+ Welsh forest and tarmac section gravel rally stages; a mouth watering prospect... 

Dayinsure Wales Rally GB also added further spice to the manufacturers championship – as Toyota netted a double podium, with Latvala (on his 17th Welsh WRC event!) taking a richly deserved P2, just 10.6s off Ogier and a very cool headed Esapekka Lappi P3.

Elsewhere, Citroen's Craig Breen had a very solid event, to net 4th – and didn't even cry! And, with Hyundai team orders coming into play – despite an ill Mikkelsen (6th) and sad-looking Paddon (7th) denying it – the championship leader, Thierry Neuville managed to stay on top by seven points, keeping his dream alive in time for Spain and Australia. 

Neuville came home in 5th after a torrid time in the forests, struggling for grip, sliding off the road into ditches (well done fans for shoving him out so fast!) and generally not going too well at all, but staying on top in the overall standings, miraculously. He'll need something a lot more dominant on the Spanish asphalt to claim the 2018 title, as the ball bearing gravel of Oz ain't going to be his Hyundai's bag... and it's certainly Toyota and M-Sports...  

Other notable drives came from the viking comedy genius that is Mads Østberg, who's 8th spot was not at all reflective of his pace. Once he got his new damper and suspension set-up right, he was flying – netting stage wins and even picking up advertising hoarding, slewing sideways off 'the line' (such as it was on this mixed grip event) on the Sunday power stage. Love him. The WRC would not be the same without his comedy, show boating driving style, pace and brilliant character...

Also worth a big shout is the epic 9th place of 18-year-old Kalle Rovanperä, who easily won in WRC2 in his Skoda Fabia R5, and is a name to remember for WRC – possibly even as early as 2019... 

“It’s a great honour to win in Wales for the fifth time,” reflected the five-time World Champion. “Everybody knows how tough this event is and how it’s one of the most iconic rallies in the World Championship. I’m very proud to be on top of that list ahead of such big names in the sport.

“It was certainly an intense weekend! We lost a lot of time due to gearbox issues on Friday, but we never gave up and kept on pushing. Jari-Matti gave me a hard time right to the end – we knew we had to be at our absolute best to beat him, and I think we managed that. It was an amazing battle.”

“Congratulations to Sébastien on his record-breaking fifth victory here in Wales,” said Dayinsure Wales Rally GB Managing Director, Ben Taylor. “He is such a popular winner with the British fans, but he has a habit of trying to steal the trophy each time!

“We made history of our own as well this weekend, bringing World Championship motor sport to public streets for the first time in Britain. Llandudno looked amazing today and it was wonderful to see so many spectators coming out to experience the WRC. We have had amazing crowds all weekend and it seems that the new challenges offered by this year’s route were well received by competitors and fans alike.

“As ever, the work that went into staging the rally was nothing short of phenomenal. On behalf of the sport, I must thank everyone involved for their extraordinary efforts in putting on an absolutely fantastic sporting spectacle.”

The new earlier running in the calendar meant better weather and the subsequently drier stages looked and drove fantastically, with the added challenge of mixed grip, and an early Sunday morning power stage, to wake the drivers up. The new route was liked unanimously and opening the event up so successfully to the masses was genius (it was free to be in Llandudno and on the Great Orme). Then the actual competition itself was a gem – seeing the lead change hands countless times, multiple top name dramas and the win go right down to the last stage. Epic stuff, as ever in Wales. 

Incredibly well done to defending world champion, Ogier for making WRC history (and cheering poor Malcom Wilson up after Evans retired & Suninen too) and here's to Catalunya and Australia... this one is going right to the wire, driver's and manufacturers' titles. 

What an epic WRC season... 

Final Dayinsure Wales Rally GB Results
1. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia – Ford Fiesta WRC 3h06m12.5s
2. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila – Toyota Yaris WRC +10.6s
3. Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm – Toyota Yaris WRC +35.1s
4. Craig Breen/Scott Martin – Citroën C3 WRC +1m10.4s
5. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul – Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +1m14.4s
6. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger – Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +1m15.9s
7. Hayden Paddon/Sebastian Marshall – Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +1m18.4s
8. Mads Østberg/Torstein Eriksen – Citroën C3 WRC +1m21.6s
9. Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen – Skoda Fabia R5 +9m14.7s
10. Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson – Skoda Fabia R5 +10m48.9s

Full information can be found on the official website and via the event’s social media channels.


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