Wales Rally GB Review- Ott Pushes Seb all the way

Seb might have won Rally GB for the fourth time, but he was pushed all the way by the D-Mack tyred Fiesta WRC driven brilliantly by the young Estonian Ott Tanak.

On the days running up, it was dry and there was not much mud about. However, when Friday dawned, normal service resumed in the Welsh forests… Fog and lots of slippery stages, ready to chuck cars into the trees!

This was only going to benefit Seb in his Polo. Someone didn’t tell Ott and Raigo though. First stage down and there was only 7.6 seconds between him and Seb! The fight had begun!

Stage one top ten

01 Ogier (VW) 18m 07.0s

02 Tänak +7.6s

03 Paddon +8.0s

04 Breen +8.1s

05 Mikkelsen (VW) +11.5s

06 Meeke +11.7s

07 Latvala (VW) +16.4s

08 Neuville +22.3s

09 Østberg +32.2s

10 Sordo +34.3s

Stage two then, a much shorter stage and Seb won again, thus increasing his lead.

01 Ogier (VW) 2m 49.0s

02 Mikkelsen (VW) +3.3s

03 Neuville +4.5s

04 Tänak +4.5s

05 Latvala +5.5s

06 Paddon +6.1s

07 Sordo +6.2s

08 Breen +6.3s

09 Meeke +6.8s

10 Østberg +9.1s

Stage three though saw Ott fight back, winning it from Seb and reducing the gap to just 9.9 seconds! Clearly the D-Mack tyres were giving good grip out there!

01 Tänak 20m 45.4s

02 Ogier (VW) +2.2s

03 Latvala (VW) +6.5s

04 Meeke +9.5s

05 Sordo +10.5s

06 Neuville +12.6s

07 Paddon +14.2s

08 Breen +16.5s

09 Mikkelsen (VW) +21.6s

10 Østberg +26.7s

Stage four saw Ott win again and chip away at Seb’s lead again. It would also be the stage that would see Andreas start to get trouble with his transmission….. He lost 1 minute and 25 seconds thus dropping out of the top ten.

01 Tänak 10m 18.9s

02 Ogier (VW) +2.2s

03 Latvala (VW) +6.3s

04 Neuville +7.5s

05 Paddon +8.8s

06 Meeke +8.9s

07 Breen +10.6s

08 Sordo +11.8s

09 Østberg +14.8s

10 Lefebvre +20.6s

Stage five would see a Seb win with Ott only third, 7.4 seconds slower. What had happened? He reported at the end of the stage that he’d lost confidence in the rear of the car- with the geometry changing. The big casualty from this stage was Craig and Scott in their DS3. Coming around a left hander, he lost the rear and started to spin. The car then dug in at the front and rolled at least once coming to rest on its side. They were fine, but most definitely out of the event.

So, stage six saw Seb win again and Ott was third through this one, but only losing a couple of seconds. Between them, Thierry was just a second and a bit behind Seb, the Belgian finding his feet in the tricky conditions.

01 Ogier (VW) 2m 53.7s

02 Neuville +1.2s

03 Tänak +2.3s

04 Meeke +2.4s

05 Sordo +3.5s

06 Latvala (VW) +3.7s

07 Paddon +5.7s

08 Østberg +6.5s

09 Lefebvre +7.3s

10 Camilli +8.7s

Moving on to stage seven Now Jari-Matti fell to the transmission issue that had inflicted Andreas earlier… He spun in the stage sadly and lost over a minute. This dropped him to seventh overall, nearly two and a half minutes off the lead. Seb won the stage and increased his lead to over 20 seconds.

01 Ogier (VW) 20m 58.6s

02 Tänak +5.9s

03 Neuville +11.5s

04 Paddon +14.0s

05 Meeke +19.8s

06 Sordo +25.5s

07 Østberg +31.1s

08 Lefebvre +43.1s

09 Camilli +48.5s

10 Gilbert +1m 06.9s

Last stage of the day then, number eight…. We had another stage winner with Thierry taking it by just 7 tenths of a second. Ott’s tyres finally cried enough and he picked up a puncture on the right front with six km’s to go in the stage. Also, Seb’s driveshaft failed…. How lucky was that?!

Day one top ten

01 Ogier (VW) 1h 44m 31.2s

02 Tänak +37.3s

03 Neuville +1m 09.0s

04 Paddon +1m 12.8s

05 Meeke +1m 14.8s

06 Sordo +2m 07.2s

07 Østberg +2m 37.3s

08 Latvala (VW) +3m 43.6s

09 Lefebvre +4m 31.6s

10 Camilli +5m 26.0s

Right then, the thoughts of the drivers at the end of day one.

Volkswagen Motorsport

Quotes after day one of the Rally Great Britain

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

“The first stage this morning was extremely difficult and slippery. The priority there was to make it through to finish in one piece. After that, the grip was noticeably better – particularly for us as the first car onto the route. I think that goes someway to explaining the large lead we had opened up over the majority of the opposition by midday. I am jolly glad to have made it through the day. It is obviously a great shame for my team-mates that they struggled with issues. I am confident that our team will get to grips with the problems, and that we will all be able to push hard again with the Polo R WRC tomorrow. Winning the Manufacturers’ title is the top priority for us – without our fantastic team, Julien and I will not be world champions. We want to give them something back by winning in Wales.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2

“I obviously cannot help but be disappointed. We basically made a good start to the rally and soon found a good pace, despite the conditions, which were not easy. The priority was to be ahead of the Hyundai’s, in order to score more points than our rivals in the Manufacturers’ Championship. We were on course to do precisely that. Unfortunately, the rear-right drive shaft broke on stage seven. That meant we were no longer competitive for the rest of the day. We must now shake off this disappointment, but will push hard again tomorrow.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“I’m incredibly disappointed. I would have preferred to have been challenging for second place in the world championship here. I had a really good start to the rally, despite taking things rather cautiously. Unfortunately, however, I was denied by a broken driveshaft at the front-right of the car on stage four, after which I only had rear-wheel drive. Instead, I ended up losing endless amounts of time. There is not a lot that Anders and I can do here now, apart from to go for broke on Sunday’s Power Stage. We will obviously do that, and then really go for it in Australia.”

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville said, “Conditions are tricky and we can’t relax at all. It was very slippery in there. I lost too much time in the fog on the first stage and we had a spin and stalled the car near the start of SS3 which cost us about six seconds. This afternoon has gone much better although the stages were still wet and it was easy to get caught out. It’s now a great battle and I tried to do a good stage to finish the day in the podium position.”

Hayden Paddon said, ”It’s hard with changing grip levels. Sometimes you brake too early and sometimes too late, but the margins between being too slow and too fast are very small. It’s difficult to judge pace but it’s the same for everyone. I’m happy with the progress we are making, particularly compared to last year and I think we can have a big attack for the podium tomorrow when the conditions are a bit more consistent and should suit us better.”

Dani Sordo said, “It was really difficult with lots of fog and slippery places – I didn’t feel comfortable throughout the first loop. Once conditions improved towards the end of the morning the times were not so bad and I started enjoying it a bit more. I tried to do my best – but it’s not easy to learn the grip. All in all, it has been a tough day for us and we are looking forward to a more positive Saturday.”

M-Sport WRT

Mads Østberg (7th) said:

“It’s been a tricky day and we’ve had to make quite a few adjustments to both the car and the driving throughout the day. It’s been challenging, but I felt we did some really good stages. The times might not have been what we were expecting, but we are in a strong seventh place and that’s not so bad.

“Tomorrow will be a different day with a different surface which will hopefully provide a bit more grip. At the moment I can’t seem to find the traction so hopefully with a bit more grip we can be faster.”

Éric Camilli (11th) said:

“It’s not been an easy day but we are still here and that is the important thing. It was a shame for us this morning as we had two very rare punctures and we don’t fully understand why. That’s life sometimes, and this afternoon we decided to continue on the same rhythm.

“This is never an easy rally and at times we were able to match the pace of Mads which is very important for us. He has a lot of experience here so that is a good first step with the experience that we have and we’ll work hard to keep building on that tomorrow.”

Abu Dhabi WRT

Kris Meeke: “It was a very, very long day! We weren’t expecting the conditions to be so difficult, with a lot of rain and fog. We also know that it’s in this type of situation where the lack of development on the car tends to show the most. I feel that I did my best and I enjoyed driving out there today, even though I was bit frustrated when I saw my times at the end of the stages! We’re not far off the podium, so we go again tomorrow!”

Craig Breen: “We had a good morning; the level of performance was enough to put me in the top five. I still had a bit of moment at one point so I was trying to get the balance right between pushing and being cautious. I wanted to use what we had learned during the first pass this afternoon, but we were a bit unlucky on SS5. The car skidded and the front hit a bank on the inside of a corner. We did several rolls and we weren’t then able to get away again under own steam. It’s frustrating, but these things happen in rallying.”

Stéphane Lefebvre: “I think I could have been a little bit higher up the standings, but we didn’t choose the right set-up. We thought that the roads would be drier and I lacked traction in the twisty sections. We had to make the best of this option throughout the day because there was no mid-leg service. In any case, I feel that I got the maximum out of what I had to work with and I’m pleased to finish the leg without having made any mistakes. We’ll be back tomorrow with the set-up that worked well last year and that should make things better.”

Quentin Gilbert: “We started at an extremely cautious pace. With the fog and lack of grip, the first stage had the worst possible conditions for building confidence! We improved as we completed more stages, reducing the gap with the leading drivers. I can’t wait to get back out there tomorrow. It was a joy to drive this car, everything works perfectly and I was really enjoying it despite the difficulties of the course.”

Day Two

Now this day was going to be interesting. They would have to do the whole day without any service. This meant that if they wanted new tyres, they would have to carry them in the car.

Stage nine was first up and it saw a continuation of the battle of who would be faster- Ott or Seb…. Well, Ott took it from Seb, thus being 1.5 seconds quicker. The D-Mack tyres giving great grip. A bit of history for you. This stage was last run in 1997 and it was the late great Colin McRae who won it.

01 Tänak 5m 47.1s

02 Ogier (VW) +1.5s

03 Neuville +2.0s

04 Latvala (VW) +3.8s

05 Paddon +4.3s

06 Mikkelsen (VW) +5.1s

07 Meeke +8.5s

08 Østberg +9.7s

09 Sordo +10.3s

10 Lefebvre +14.0s

Stage ten saw Seb and Ott first and second and the gap had increased again, now 38.2 seconds. He wasn’t about to give up though!

01 Ogier (VW) 12m 01.2s

02 Tänak +2.4s

03 Paddon +8.6s

04 Mikkelsen (VW) +11.1s

05 Neuville +11.8s

06 Latvala (VW) +13.4s

07 Østberg +19.4s

08 Meeke +20.1s

09 Sordo +24.6s

10 Camilli +36.3s

Stage eleven fell to Thierry with Andreas finally showing some pace now that his car was sorted, in second.

01 Neuville 7m 00.9s

02 Mikkelsen (VW) +0.3s

03 Tänak +1.0s

04 Ogier (VW) +2.9s

05 Paddon +4.4s

06 Latvala (VW) +5.7s

07 Sordo +5.9s

08 Meeke +9.4s

09 Østberg +10.6s

10 Camilli +14.5s

What happened next was that Ott won stage twelve, thirteen and fourteen and reduced the gap to Seb from 36.3 to 24.8 seconds! A big push to apply pressure to the rally leader.

Stage 15 next then and incredibly Seb went through the 14km stage seven seconds faster than Ott and as such took the lead straight back up to 31.8! A remarkable time!

Time for the last stage of the day then, and the crews headed into the UK for the first time since 1999. The short blast around Cholmondeley Castle saw Andreas win it, with Seb second and Hayden in third.

01 Mikkelsen (VW) 1m 08.6s

02 Ogier (VW) +0.3s

03 Paddon +0.6s

04 Neuville +1.3s

05 Sordo +1.5s

06 Meeke +1.9s

07 Tänak +2.3s

08 Østberg +2.5s

09 Latvala (VW) +2.6s

10 Lefebvre +3.5s

The thoughts then of all the drivers at the end of the second day

Volkswagen Motorsport

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

“On the whole I am very happy with our day. It could hardly have gone better for Julien and me. We went on the attack and tried to make the most of our start position, which gives us a slight advantage here. We know that even our soft tyre compound is a little too hard for the conditions in Wales. For this reason, we wanted to open a good lead ahead of the finale on Sunday, in order to finish ahead of Ott Tänak. On the other hand, the fact that we had a harder tyre compound than our rivals meant we had absolutely no problem completing the hundred kilometres of special stage without a tyre change. Tomorrow is definitely going to be exciting, that much is certain. Ott is quick here at the rally in Wales. However, I am very determined to do my bit towards winning the Manufacturers’ title for the Volkswagen team, hopefully with a win.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2

“As far as the driving is concerned, today was a good day. Like yesterday, we soon got up to speed and then tried to go about making up some of the time that we lost yesterday. We obviously only had limited opportunities to make any progress in the overall standings. Despite this, we did make up over a minute on Mads Østberg and will try to take seventh place from him tomorrow and to do our bit for the team in the Manufacturers’ Championship.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“Today was all about finding our rhythm again. Having driven almost the whole of Friday with just rear-wheel drive, we first had to get used to the grip you have with four-wheel drive again. We managed to do that, and set some good stage times here and there. We had to change our driving style a little again in the afternoon – that is a feature of the Rally Great Britain, as the routes become more slippery in the afternoon and you have to choose a different racing line. All in all, we are looking forward to tomorrow. We want to attack on the Power Stage, in order to score as many points as possible in the battle for second place in the world championship.”

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville said: “We’ve had a good day, driving fast and smooth. The morning loop went OK. The first run through Dyfi was a bit more difficult. I clipped a bank on the inside and lost the steering, so I was a bit out of rhythm. We were fortunate because it could have been worse. We lost too much time in the foggy conditions but other than that it went well. We set the fastest time on the following stage and we’ve been able to extend our hold on third place. In the afternoon, we focused on controlling our pace, driving efficiently and finding traction. As long as we are on the podium tomorrow I’ll be content, but there’s still work to do before we can think of that.”

Hayden Paddon said: “It’s been a day of careful strategy today with no lunchtime service and no remote tyre fitting zone. We struggled slightly to get confidence on the morning loop. We didn’t lose much time but I needed to find my mojo a bit. The conditions were quite typical for Wales, still very slippery but with more consistent grip. I’ve had to dial-in the driving because it’s not my natural style, so that’s been the main struggle. We made some changes, which gave me a better feeling, but we couldn’t find enough traction. It’s a close fight for the podium with Thierry and the gap is not so big. We’ll have to see what we can do to build more confidence for Sunday’s final stages.”

Dani Sordo said: “It has not been a particularly memorable rally for us so far. The stages are wonderful and I enjoy them but we have simply not been able to find the pace we need to fight higher up the classification. The conditions have been difficult with slippery and damp patches throughout. It’s better than last year – and a characteristic of this rally – but it just hasn’t clicked for me this weekend. We will continue to do all we can to get the most out of the car and ourselves. The gap to those in front of us is too big to reduce tomorrow morning, so we have to keep it clean and secure this position.”

M-Sport WRT

Mads Østberg (7th) said:

“It’s been another typical day at Wales Rally GB with rain, mud and fog. It looked really dry on the recce, but today it was completely different – full wet with full fog and very tricky conditions.

“We also had a bit of a strange morning with Ola not feeling 100 percent. He was acting very strange and even in the stages he struggled a lot. He was reading the notes very strangely and we are a team so then I struggled as well.

“It looks as though he has been bitten by a snake! I don’t know if that’s what it was but it certainly looks that way and he wasn’t feeling very well at all. At the Regroup I made him see the doctor and after some medicine and a bit of a break he was feeling much better which is the main thing.”

Éric Camilli (10th) said:

“It’s been a good day for us, with proper Wales Rally GB conditions. It’s not been easy of course, but after the time loss yesterday we decided to take it steady to learn the stages and have really enjoyed the day.

“At times we pushed and were able to match the likes of Mads, Kris and Dani. They have a lot of experience here in a world rally car – and I have none – so that was very good to see. Of course there’s still a long way to go before we can be setting the sort of pace that Sebastien and Ott are setting up front, but this is a very good start and a good step ahead of next year.”

Abu Dhabi WRT

Kris Meeke: “What happened this morning was fairly unusual! After the first stage, we had a slow puncture on the road section. And then we had the same problem after SS10… I don’t understand what happened, but in any case it dictated – at least in part – the rest of the day. I kept pushing but I had to cope with early wear on my four remaining tyres. Apart from my misfortune with the tyres and our difficult starting position, I think we were just short of speed on this surface.”

Stéphane Lefebvre: “We did our best to try and improve in conditions like these. Our set-up was much better than yesterday, although I still felt short of traction. In terms of the gap per kilometre, I got a bit closer to Kris and that’s the key thing for me. Once again, I didn’t have any moments and I felt comfortable in the quickest sections. It’s another positive point, although I would have preferred to be close to the front. One step at a time, though!”

Quentin Gilbert: “I’m continuing to get closer to the leading drivers, but my progress was a bit up and down today. Several factors unsettled me this morning, such as the fog on SS10, my pace notes which were too optimistic in places and the variations in grip from one corner to another. The second pass went better and I’m pleased to have avoided making any mistakes. It’s sometimes frustrating to see the times of the leading guys, but you have to stay focused on your own targets.”

The last day then, and five stages to decide this rally starting with stage 17! Unlike last year, it wasn’t raining, but the stages were still muddy and very slippery! Could Ott mount a final attack on the world champion?

Well, he started the day well with yet another stage victory, but Seb was right there in second just six tenths off Ott’s time and the gap remained at just over 33 seconds. Looking good for third was Thierry, but Hayden wasn’t calling time yet on his bid for the final step on the podium. Jari-Matti was also right there, closing on seventh placed Mads and looking to move ahead.

Stage 18 saw Ott take another stage win with Seb losing more time to the Estonian crew in the D-Mack Fiesta. Hayden was again quicker than Thierry, still looking to move ahead of Thierry.

Stage 19 then and it was another stunning run through the forest for Ott, who now closed the gap to Seb taking seven seconds out of the erstwhile leader! Jari-Matti had won the battle with Mads and moved ahead into seventh place.

Into stage 20 then Ott’s charge was continuing- Would he have enough stages to get ahead for his first WRC victory? He’d closed the gap again to 23 seconds at the end of this stage and there were still two more to go! Thierry was now looking comfortable in third having been quicker through this one by a second.

Right then- stage 21…. Well, it was a fifth stage win in row for Ott and Raigo, an incredible 6.6 seconds quicker than Seb and Julien! The gap was just 16.4 seconds going into the last stage of the rally. Could Ott and Raigo pull it off? It certainly would be a popular victory!

Well, the crew won the last stage of the event to take all three power stage points, Andreas was second fastest, thus getting two extra points and Thierry was third getting one extra point.

Seb and Julien were fifth fastest, just a little over six seconds slower than the stage winner, meaning that they’d won Rally GB, but by only 10.2 seconds from Ott and Raigo. Third place went to Thierry and Nicolas in their Hyundai.

Fourth place went to Hayden and John, with Kris and Paul finishing in fifth, Dani and Marc sixth Jari-Matti seventh, Mads and Ola in eighth, Stephane ninth on his return to competition after that huge accident in Rally Germany back in August and Eric in the M-Sport Fiesta taking the final championship point in tenth.

Final classification

01 Ogier (VW) 3h 14m 30.2s

02 Tänak +10.2s

03 Neuville +1m 35.4s

04 Paddon +1m 54.9s

05 Meeke +2m 35.2s

06 Sordo +4m 02.6s

07 Latvala (VW) +4m 28.3s

08 Østberg +4m 38.3s

09 Lefebvre +7m 12.2s

10 Camilli +8m 19.3s

So, the thoughts of the drivers at the end of the penultimate rally of the year.

Volkswagen Motorsport

Sébastien Ogier (F), Julien Ingrassia (F)
Volkswagen Polo R WRC (2016)
WRC Rally Great Britain 2016
Photo: Helena El Mokni

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

“This victory is fantastic. I am so delighted that we have wrapped up the Manufacturers’ title for our fantastic team. It was hard work hanging onto our lead in these extremely slippery conditions here in Wales. Ott Tänak put us under a lot of pressure, so Julien and I had to push ourselves to the limit all weekend. But we did it. Looking back, we have all been on an incredible journey over the past four years. To have such a run of success is definitely something very special – particularly in motorsport, where so many different factors come into play. I am very happy that I opted for Volkswagen before anyone knew where this WRC adventure would take us.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2

“Looking at today on its own, we did our job: we overtook Østberg and ended the rally in seventh place. On the whole, we were obviously hoping for a lot more from the weekend and are not happy with this result. On the other hand, Volkswagen claimed its fourth Manufacturers’ title in a row thanks to our team-mate Sébastien Ogier’s win. That is obviously a fantastic success for the entire team here and at the headquarters in Hannover. We will still push hard again in Australia and look to improve our record for this season.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“I am very pleased for our Volkswagen team that we have once again been crowned world champions in the Manufacturers’ Championship. That is no less than we deserve, and I am pleased to have contributed a little here and there. From a personal point of view, I am obviously disappointed with the outcome of the Rally Great Britain in general. We wanted to battle with Thierry Neuville for second place in the championship here, but unfortunately that was not to be. A drive shaft was damaged on Friday and we consequently lost many minutes. That is a real shame, but that is motorsport. These things can happen. We then focused fully on the Power Stage and really gave it our all. We could not have done any more and came away with two points. We will now have to do our very best in Australia to finish second in the world championship. That is exactly what we plan to do.”

D-Mack WRT

Ott Tänak said: “It was a great weekend. After a few issues on Friday we had a very clean run through all the stages and I really enjoyed being back in the battle fighting for the lead. The stages yesterday afternoon and today were very slippery but I think that was the place where the DMACK tyres were working the best and we had the advantage. We didn’t have the best road position but obviously, we benefited from having the best tyres.”

Hyundai Motorsport

2016 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 13 / Wales Rally GB / October 27 – 30, 2016 // Worldwide Copyright: Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville said: “It’s been a really nice weekend for us. The team has done an incredible job and we’ve had a good car to contest these tricky stages. We didn’t have the pace to fight for the win but I’m still happy with a podium result. To take a Power Stage point was an added bonus, even if we weren’t pushing for it. The conditions this weekend have been typically demanding but we’ve kept our focus and found some good pace when it has mattered. It’s nice to take the team’s first Wales Rally GB podium, and to continue our run of positive results. It’s particularly pleasing to move clearly into second place in the Drivers’ Championship. Our aim is now to finish the season on a high in Australia.”

2016 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 13 / Wales Rally GB / October 27 – 30, 2016 // Worldwide Copyright: Hyundai Motorsport

Hayden Paddon said: “We’ve had a hard weekend, so to take fourth place isn’t too bad. We were involved in a tight battle with Thierry for the final podium position, but we weren’t able to take the fight any closer to him. All we could do was keep the gap as small as possible to remind him that we were there, but he had it covered. It’s the second rally in a row where we’ve just missed out, but there are still plenty of positives to take from this event. We know we have areas where we can improve in these conditions. I’ve had to work on adapting my driving style this weekend; this experience will be useful for the future. We now look ahead to Australia, with some positive momentum and a good road position.”

Dani Sordo said: “It’s really been a weekend to forget for us. We weren’t able to find a rhythm on these slippery stages, and we lacked confidence on all days. Our aim this morning was simply to bring the car home and to take some points, which we thankfully achieved without any issues. We have to sit down to analyse why we couldn’t repeat the sort of pace we have enjoyed in other events this season. I have tried my absolute best but nothing we did delivered any real improvements. I’m determined to bounce back in Australia.”

M-Sport WRT

Mads Østberg (8th) said:

“It’s been an enjoyable rally with some really nice stages. I feel as though we have been driving well and we’ve had a good rhythm through the stages but for some reason the times just weren’t coming.

“We also had a very strange moment yesterday when it looked as though Ola was bitten by a snake! I don’t know for sure if that’s what it was, but the symptoms were very similar to a snake bite. His hand swelled, and he was acting very strangely – losing focus even on the stages which is not like Ola at all!

“Thankfully, we got him to the doctor and after some medicine and a bit of a break he was feeling much better. He’s been back to his best today, and we set some encouraging times, but we’ll be hoping to challenge much closer to the front in Australia.”

2016 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 13 / Wales Rally GB / October 27 – 30, 2016 // Worldwide Copyright: M-Sport/McKlein

Éric Camilli (10th) said:

“It was a shame about the time loss on the first day, but I think we have to be happy with this weekend. The aim was to gain experience ahead of next year and we have done that – adjusting the pacenotes and learning where it is possible to gain time on these tricky stages.

“When we felt comfortable, we pushed harder and it was good to see that we could match the times of Mads, Dani and Kris – especially when you remember how much experience those guys have.

“Experience counts for so much at this level, so our target will remain the same in Australia where we’ll focus on learning another new rally and being as prepared as possible for next year.”

Abu Dhabi WRT

Kris Meeke: “We’ve had a fantastic season. It was very important for me to keep competing in rallies, looking ahead to 2017. Yes, we won two rallies in Portugal and in Finland, but we also had a very high level of performance in Monte-Carlo, Sweden and Corsica. I did my best here in Wales and I’m pleased with my performance, given the conditions. It’s the end of a very special period for me, as the last three seasons have enabled me to secure my place at the highest level. But above all, I can’t wait to get started next season!”

Stéphane Lefebvre: “I’m pleased to have made it to the end without making any mistakes. I managed to find a good rhythm on this third leg. We changed the set-up again and that made a difference. With more traction, I immediately felt more confident behind the wheel. With a more favourable starting position, I set some good times and got a bit closer to Kris. I’m relieved because I was surprised to be so far off the pace of the leading guys yesterday. It’s obviously very important for the future and I am now really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the Citroën C3 WRC.”

Quentin Gilbert: “My main aim was to make it to the finish. Apart from that, I wanted to improve consistently throughout the event. Some stages were better than others and I would have liked to have set some better times but overall, I feel that I did a good job for my first rally in a WRC. I think today was probably my best day of the rally. And yet the conditions were once again very difficult. I would like to thank everyone at Abu Dhabi Total WRT, who have done everything they could to get us in the best possible shape this weekend.”

Also, the thoughts of the team principles.

Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“A performance worthy of world champions from Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, and a fantastic day for Volkswagen. To win all three titles in the World Rally Championship for the fourth time in a row is anything but a matter of course. It takes a lot of work from the entire team to be so successful. I am extremely proud of the whole team. Drivers, co-drivers, engineers, mechanics, logisticians, the medical department and catering team, meteo and weather crew, and team management – everyone has played an important role. The dedication they show Volkswagen, and their team spirit, cannot be beaten.”

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said:

“This result is extremely significant for DMACK, with our British tyres leading the world-class field on our home WRC rally. We targeted this event and the plan worked perfectly. We’ve demonstrated to manufacturers and competitors just how much we’ve progressed this season and it’s the result of a huge amount of work from our small but committed team, and of course a stunning performance from Ott and Raigo.”

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented:

“Firstly, we are all delighted to secure second place in the Manufacturers’ Championship with today’s result. It’s a special moment in our history and confirmation of our most competitive season in the WRC. It’s actually been a bittersweet weekend from a performance point of view. On the one hand, I am pleased we could take our first ever Welsh podium, thanks to a strong showing from Thierry and Nicolas. On the other hand, we were not able to put up a stronger fight for the top-two positions, which shows there are some areas of performance where we still need to improve. Looking at the positives, the New Generation i20 WRC ran reliably all weekend, and all three crews finished in the top-six – by far our most competitive showing in Wales to date. We can look positively towards the final event of the season.”

M-Sport WR Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“It’s been a really strong performance from Ott and Raigo this weekend – and one of the most impressive of the season. They have totally dominated the final day of competition here in Wales – winning all six stages and claiming maximum points in the Power Stage.

“The team now head to Australia in excellent spirits. Once again, Ott has proven that we have a car capable of claiming rally wins and we’ll be looking for a good performance before embarking on an exciting new era for both the team and the championship.”

Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal:

“I would like to thank our partners Abu Dhabi and Total for having made this transitional programme possible at eight European rounds of the WRC. Well done also to everyone at the PH Sport team, who have run the cars with an excellent level of quality. This season has seen Kris Meeke, Craig Breen and Stéphane Lefebvre add to their experience and maintain their competitive edge, during a phase in which we are developing the new Citroën C3 WRC. Kris’ two victories have extended Citroën’s incredible record in the WRC to 96 wins. This programme also helped us to enhance our technical database. All the positive and negative experiences will help us to prepare more effectively for Citroën’s return in 2017.”

Well, there you go, the closest finish of the year, with a really good battle for the lead. One rally to go, Rally Australia, with shakedown on the 17th of November and then three days in one of the toughest rallies on the planet, with the young Kiwi Hayden essentially regarding it as an almost home event.

It will also as we know now, be the final event in the WRC for Volkswagen, with the news that they are ending their involvement at the end of that event. A big shock really.

Julien Ingrassia (F), Sébastien Ogier (F)
WRC Rally Great Britain 2016
Photo: Bodo Kräling

Here’s the points standings for the drivers and teams’ championship.

2016 Word Rally Championship standings, drivers

01 Ogier (VW), 247 points

02 Neuville, 143 points

03 Mikkelsen (VW), 129 points

04 Paddon, 126 points

05 Sordo, 119 points

06 Latvala (VW), 110 points

07 Østberg, 94 points

08 Tänak, 82 points

09 Meeke, 64 points

10 Breen, 36 points

2016 Word Rally Championship standings, manufacturers

01 Volkswagen Motorsport, 355 points

02 Hyundai, 285 points

03 M-Sport Motorsport, 154 points

04 Volkswagen Motorsport II, 138 points

05 Hyundai Motorsport N, 136 points

WRC Rally Great Britain 2016
Photo: Bodo Kräling

Warren Nel

8th November 2016

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