Rally Australia Review 2018 – Jari-Matti Latvala wins as Seb Ogier takes his sixth title!

The decider down under had it all! Here’s the story of how the title was won, while Jari-Matti took victory!

FIA World Rally Championship 2018 / Round 13 / Rally Australia 2018 / November 15-18, 2018 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC

Shakedown took place on Thursday, with these results.

SHAKEDOWN STANDINGS

  1. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2:53.8
  2. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:54.0
  3. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:54.0
  4. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:54.1
  5. Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) 2:54.6
  6. Paddon / Marshall (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:54.7
  7. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:54.9
  8. Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:55.0
  9. Suninen / Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2:55.1
  10. Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2:55.2
  11. Østberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 WRC) 2:55.4

 

Friday

There would be 52km’s of stages on Friday with runs through Orara East, Coldwater and Sherwood run twice and a double run of Destination NSW spectator special at the end of the day. There were rumours of rain developing adding to the anticipation. The start list looked like this – Ogier, Neuville, Tänak, Lappi, Latvala, Mikkelsen, Evans, Breen, Paddon, Suninen, Ostberg, Serderidis. There would be a service break after the first three stages.

 

With Seb opening the road, he was hoping it would rain, thus giving him an advantage. However, this didn’t happen. The rain did arrive, but only in the service park, thus not affecting the stages.

 

The short SS1, Orara East stage, saw Esapekka go fastest, and therefore lead from his Toyota teammates, Ott and Jari-Matti. On such a short stage, Ogier was not losing too much time, completing the stage just 2.6 seconds slower in eighth place, just half a second behind Thierry who held fifth place. Craig Breen hit a kangaroo, but the car wasn’t badly damaged, allowing him to continue.

 

The longer SS2, 14km Coldwater stage would shake things up a bit more with the rain holding off. It was certainly very dry out there, and starting to warm up too as the final cars completed. Jari-Matti took the stage victory and moved into a shared lead with his younger teammate, Esapekka. Craig said his car was understeering, but he still was on the move up the leaderboard anyway, moving to sixth from eleventh. Meanwhile, Mads was just 2.4 seconds behind the overall leaders. Those to lose time were Ogier, who fell to eleventh, but still keeping Thierry in sight who was one place ahead.

 

The final stage before service, SS3 Sherwood, at 26km’s did see some drama! Sixth on the road, Andreas came across a tractor on the stage, and whilst taking avoiding action, crashed out damaging his radiator and putting him out for the rest of the day. Now there has been a lot of debate as to why it was there. One thing I know, is that it was there to help manage the chicane that was in this stage. Anyway, the stage was won by Mads and Craig was second fastest despite believing he had a cracked brake disc, and this speed moved him up to fourth! The top two in the championship were rounding out the top ten.

After service, the re-run of Orara East, SS4, was won by Ott, thus moving the Estonian into fourth overall. Ogier also went well, setting the third fastest time and keeping Thierry insight. Mads was still leading overall, now 4.5 seconds ahead of Lappi.

 

It was all change in Coldwater, SS5. Thierry won the stage and moved up to seventh place overall, almost ten seconds ahead of Ogier. Lappi lost time, dropping almost 23 seconds and falling to ninth. Our top three was now Mads, Jari-Matti and Ott.

 

There was more drama in the longer SS6, Sherwood stage though! After setting the fastest time, Craig moved up to third from fifth, now just 7.5 seconds from the lead that Mads still had. However, it was one of the championship contenders that suffered misfortune. Thierry had a tyre come off after landing from a jump, losing close to a minute and severely denting his hopes of winning the championship as he was now thirty seconds behind Ogier.

 

After the double run in the spectator friendly stage, Destination NSW, which completed the first days action, the only change in the leaderboard was that Craig had brought himself into second overall, giving Citroen a one-two at the end of the first day.

 

Here’s the day one standings then.

 

  1. Ostberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 WRC) 53:37.4
  2. Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) +6.8
  3. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +8.7
  4. Paddon / Marshall (Hyundai i20 WRC) +12.5
  5. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +16.9
  6. Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +28.3
  7. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +38.2
  8. Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +45.2
  9. Suninen / Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +47.2
  10. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:11.9

 

Here’s the drivers views then….

 

Mads Østberg

“I thought I would need time to get used to the car again, having not driven it since Wales but I felt confident in the car very quickly. I gradually got my bearings again and adjusted my driving stage by stage. In the end, I really enjoyed it. For sure, we pushed but without risking everything. Obviously, we are right in the mix and I’m really determined to stay there!”

Mads and Torstein led a Citroen Racing 1-2 at the end of Day One. Photo credit, Citroen Racing.

Craig Breen

“Other than the first stage of the loop, where I wasn’t quite on it a couple of times, I had a good opening leg. We were right on the pace all day, which you can see with our win on the longest stage. Importantly, that helped us to gain a place in tomorrow’s running order. I can’t wait to get out there again, because the second leg looks like it will be the best day of the weekend!”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala

“Today has mostly been very good. This morning I did some mistakes and lost a little bit of time, but in the afternoon loop in the forest stages I was really satisfied with how it went: the driving was very consistent and clean. I did lose some time on the super specials, as I had the hard tyres and I was missing some traction. Still, everything remains close and tomorrow we will have a good road position, which is going to be important.”

 

Hyundai Motorsport

Hayden Paddon (4th)

“We have had a nice clean day and find ourselves involved in a close fight at the front. The feeling inside the car has been pretty good on all stages. I have spent Friday just trying to get the natural rhythm back, learning to push in the car and gaining confidence. Our approach was right. We had an issue midway through the afternoon when a tyre came off the rim; we were forced to use a worn soft tyre for the second run through Sherwood. I was surprised not to lose more time than we did. We can definitely go faster, and we have to keep pushing for the team. There’s no other option.”

 

Thierry Neuville (10th)

“We can’t lose our hopes despite what’s happened. It’s still only the first day and although our championship chances are now reduced, we don’t know what’s going to happen over the next two days. It had been going quite well. Even from second on the road this morning, the cleaning was huge and our aim was just to stay in front of Sébastien, which we were able to do. A stage win in the afternoon was nice but then, in SS6, we were on a long right-hander with a few bumps, and on the landing of a jump we took the tyre from the rim, which lost us a lot of time. We will continue to drive and see where we end up on Sunday.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen (Retired/Rally2)

“What happened today pretty much sums up my season, to be honest. We approached a crest and saw a marshal waving us down. Anders told me to stop so I slowed right down and saw a tractor driving out of the chicane. We kept going but my head was in a different place rather than the pace-notes that were coming up and we went off. I am disappointed and angry. This situation has destroyed a really important rally for us, and it should never have happened. It’s a shame because we were feeling comfortable and doing well up to that point. We will be back on Saturday but there’s not much we can do now.”

 

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Ott Tänak (5th)

“Overall, the morning loop was good and we were in a nice rhythm. This afternoon there were some mistakes from my side, which I cannot be happy about. On the first stage of the afternoon loop I hit a gate, which did some damage to our suspension. Then on the second stage, in a big watersplash we lost the front bumper so we had a lot less aero than usual. The car wasn’t easy to drive but we did all we could, and we are still in the game and everything is possible.”

 

Esapekka Lappi (6th)

“Everything went really well and smoothly this morning. I was quite surprised: I expected to lose more time as we were running quite early on the road. Unfortunately, one watersplash this afternoon ruined our day. I tried to approach it the same as I did on the first pass, but it didn’t work out at all. We lost a lot of time but thankfully we could continue. I have been really enjoying the driving and everything on the car is working nicely, so I am looking forward to tomorrow.”

 

M-Sport Ford WRT

Sébastien Ogier (7th)

“Every stage has been like a Power Stage for us today. Opening the road is really tough here and we had to push really hard through every stage. It’s always a little frustrating when you’re not in a position to fight for the top results, but that’s the way it is.”

 

“Unlike our rivals, we didn’t make any mistakes and we’re in a good position for the championship which is the main objective this weekend. A big thanks to my team mates also for their help this afternoon which should make our road position better for tomorrow.”

 

Elfyn Evans (8th)

“We focused on delivering a clean and tidy drive through today’s stages. The competition was really close and I think we did a pretty good job – not far from the lead before the last gravel stage of the day.”

Elfyn and Dan let Seb and Julien go ahead of them in the standings, helping the French duo with their championship defence. Photo credit, M-Sport

“But this is a team sport as well as an individual one and we had to play our part to give Seb the best possible position going into the weekend. We’re all competitors and we all want to compete, but we’re also here to do a job for the team and we have to respect that.”

 

Teemu Suninen (9th)

“I think we’ve had a good day. The pace has been good and we were able to improve a lot over the second pass – just 0.1 seconds away from a stage win on the middle one this afternoon [SS5]. On the next stage we had to give the position to Seb, but that’s part of the game – he’s fighting for the championship and we need to play our part to help him.”

 

 

Saturday

 

Day two would see the crews tackle much more stages, adding up to 133km’s of action. The starting line up looked like this – Serderidis, Neuville, Evans, Suninen, Ogier, Lappi, Tänak, Paddon, Breen, Latvala, Ostberg, Mikkelsen.

 

A much longer day featured four stages run in the morning, with the loop repeated in the afternoon and then a double run at the end of the day in the spectator friendly stage.

 

Into SS9, Argents Hill Reverse then, quite literally run in the opposite direction to last year and Hayden started well, winning it from Latvala and Andreas. Craig dropped behind Jari-Matti who was now Mads closest rival for the lead. Thierry was also finding things hard, second on the road again and losing more time to Ogier.

The second stage of the day, SS10, Welshs Creek reverse was won by Ott from Latvala and Hayden. Mads lead was reduced by a little over three seconds and he revealed that he was not happy with his tyre choice. Meantime, Craig was suffering from a throttle that was sticking open when he was on the brakes, making the car push on and very tricky to drive indeed, and he dropped to fifth overall! Hayden moved into third as a result of this. Ogier was still in the box seat for the championship, with Thierry now 43 seconds behind the Frenchman.

 

Onto SS11, Urunga. It was all change in this one. Mads lost 13 and a half seconds, falling from the lead, to third overall. Those to benefit were Jari-Matti and Ott who were now first and second respectively. The gap widened even further for Thierry, now almost fifty seconds from Seb in tenth. Craig was suffering with his tyres and this led to a spin, which then resulted in damage to his left rear suspension.

 

SS12, so named Raleigh, saw Elfyn and Ott share honours with the fastest time. Breen however picked up a time penalty after arriving late for the stage. He and Scott worked on their car between the stages, fixing the broken suspension as best they could and they were now in tenth place.

 

After service, came the second run of Argents Hill, SS13, which saw Hayden take another stage victory, thus consolidating fourth overall and keeping him and Seb Marshall close to the podium positions, with Mads in third still, only three seconds ahead of the Kiwi. Thierry needed a mistake from Ogier to bring himself back into the fight, but it was hard to see him taking the title now. In fact, Ott had a more realistic chance given how close he was to the leader, who was his teammate, Jari-Matti.

 

The longer Welshs Creek followed, SS14, and Ott moved ahead of Jari-Matti into the lead. Also, on the move was Thierry who moved ahead of Teemu, but had actually lost a further few seconds to Ogier, who was now in sixth overall. The Belgian was going to need a miracle now, as he was almost two and a half minutes from the leader.

 

The second run of Urunga, SS15 saw Hayden set the third fastest time and with Mads only tenth fastest the Kiwi was now in third overall, behind Ott and Jari-Matti. Thierry was doing his best to keep the gap to Ogier under a minute, and he was a second faster than the Frenchman.

 

The short Raleigh, SS16 stage followed, with Ott, Elfyn and Seb the top three. Ott’s lead was now almost ten seconds from his teammate, Jari-Matti.

 

After the double run of Destination NSW, during which the rain came, causing all sorts of mayhem, the Estonian had widened the gap to Latvala giving him a lead of twenty seconds, whilst Hayden had consolidated his third place overall, a full twenty seconds ahead of Mads. Thierry was in eighth place, fifty seconds behind Ogier. The chance to win the title was getting more remote.

 

So, let’s hear then from the drivers at the end of day two.

 

  1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:07:52.0
  2. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +21.9
  3. Paddon / Marshall (Hyundai i20 WRC) +26.3
  4. Ostberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 WRC) +46.6
  5. Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +50.4
  6. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:44.8
  7. Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:04.6
  8. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:35.2
  9. Suninen / Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:49.0
  10. Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) +6:26.8

 

 

 

 

Ott Tänak

“It has been a good day. This morning, we were back in our normal rhythm and the car was feeling good. I tried to attack a bit and we managed to take some time back. This afternoon we continued to push to make more of a margin to the drivers behind. Tomorrow we know there will be some tricky stages and maybe some tricky weather too, so it won’t get any easier. But for the moment everything is going in the right direction and we are doing everything that is in our control.”

FIA World Rally Championship 2018 / Round 13 / Rally Australia 2018 / November 15-18, 2018 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC

Jari-Matti Latvala  

“I had a really good morning. The car was working really well, I was enjoying the driving and we were able to gain some places. The afternoon started well but I was probably too aggressive with the tyres. They became very worn, so I had to back off and I started to lose some time. Then in the super specials we were unlucky with the conditions. Still, we are in second place and we just need to bring that to the end: this would be really important for the manufacturers’ championship and for myself and to finish the season with a good feeling.”

 

Hayden Paddon

“It has been nice to get back onto some of my favourite stages of the year. I have really enjoyed myself out there. There’s still more pace to be found, but we set ourselves the minimum target of a podium and we’re looking in good shape for that so far. The weather might still have a role to play tomorrow so we have to keep pushing. I’ve had a great feeling from inside the car and started to really get into the groove. Winning the repeat of the Argents Hill stage was probably the most fun I’ve had in a rally car all year. We now have one final day to see what more we can do – it’s still pretty close up top.”

 

Citroen Racing

Mads Østberg (4th)

“We struggled a bit more today to find the right rhythm and balance, especially on the second loop of stages, then we were really hampered by the sudden rainfall on this evening’s super special stage. But together, we fought hard and gave a good account of ourselves. We didn’t give up at any point, and that’ll be our mindset tomorrow as well.”

 

Craig Breen (10th)

“It just wasn’t our day today. I was unlucky this morning with a minor mistake that proved to be a very costly one. It’s especially disappointing because we still had the speed to do well. Although we’ll be first on the road tomorrow, we’re going to enjoy these magnificent stages as much as possible right to the end.”

 

 

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Esapekka Lappi (5th)

“I think we have done a good job today. The gaps were quite big in front and behind me so I was a little bit in no-man’s land, and it’s hard to keep the concentration when you don’t need to push so much. In the second stage of the afternoon I tried to back off a bit and immediately I started to make mistakes, so I decided to push again and we were fastest on the next stage. That helped bring us quite close to fourth, but tomorrow the main aim is to bring the car to the finish.”

 

M-Sport Ford WRT

Sébastien Ogier (6th)

“The loose gravel has made it a difficult rally for us so far, but it’s been a positive day in terms of the championship and I’m very happy with that.”

“First on the road yesterday was really tough. Fifth on the road today was a little bit better, but we still lost a lot of time compared to the guys starting further back.”

“It was a bit frustrating sometimes, but the main target is the championship and scoring the points we need. That’s what we’re doing at the moment, but tomorrow’s final kilometres will feel pretty long and we’ll need to be focused.”

Seb and Julien at speed. Photo credit M-Sport

Elfyn Evans (7th)

“We all knew it would be difficult being early on the road today. The gravel was really loose and you could see how much it was cleaning and how much faster the road was getting with every car. Still, we delivered a clean and tidy drive and it was nice to show some speed through both passes of the Raleigh stage.”

 

Teemu Suninen (9th)

“Today has been more difficult for me and I still have a lot to learn about how to drive in this loose gravel. I didn’t have the best rhythm, but we got a bit better in the afternoon and now there is just one more day to go.”

 

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville (8th)

“Starting from second on the road here in Australia, you know it’s going to be tough. We had to try and give it everything, to minimise the time loss but there’s only so much you can do. Despite the slippery conditions, I really enjoyed the stages and we had a reasonable run all things considered. There was a small moment towards the end of the morning loop when we broke the rear wishbone after clipping a bank, but we were able to fix that. We have had no choice but to keep pushing, focusing on our driving and have an eye on what’s happening in front in case anyone encounters any trouble. It’s a frustrating situation but it’s not over until it’s over.”

2018 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 13, Rally Australia
15-18 November 2018
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Photographer: Fabien Dufour
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Andreas Mikkelsen (Rally2)

“Today we’ve been able to enjoy ourselves very much. It is always a pleasure to drive these beautiful Australian stages. Unfortunately, we are no longer fighting for a podium but we’ve tried to get into a good rhythm nonetheless. We haven’t been taking those final risks, which enable you to compete for stage wins but I’ve been happy with our pace and performance in the i20 Coupe WRC today.”

 

Sunday

The final day then. Normally, the stages are short, but we had a very large almost 84km’s to go, over six stages. To fit it all in, it was another early start, with the first stage starting before seven in the morning. The start list looked like this – Serderidis, Breen, Suninen, Neuville, Evans, Ogier, Lappi, Ostberg, Paddon, Latvala, Tänak, Mikkelsen.

 

The rain had arrived and the first stage, SS19 Coramba was very muddy. Jari-Matti won the stage from Andreas and Thierry. These conditions were helping the Belgian, but how much? The gap to the leaders was still big and on balance, Ott had a better chance of the title, as he was ahead of Seb. Elfyn was doing a very good job, shadowing Ogier.

 

So, to SS20, Sapphire then and Hayden took this one from Latvala and Mads. Ott dropped to second place, five seconds behind new leader, Jari-Matti, after suffering a spin! In fact, Craig had spun at precisely the same place earlier and he suffered another spin as well later in the stage too!

 

Last stage before service then, SS21 Wedding Bells, and Craig suffered another spin after clipping something that was on the line. Lappi took the stage victory from a very quick Neuville with Toyota twins, Latvala and Tanak sharing the third fastest time.

 

After service, the re run of Coramba, SS22 and Thierry was going for it while the rain was pouring down. After reaching the 1km board, he spun after hitting a bank! He did get going again, however a light came on the dashboard. He found somewhere to stop and retired from the rally. Jari-Matti won the stage from Lappi and Tanak was third.

 

The re run then of SS23 Sapphire saw more drama. Ott stopped in the stage after an off, which he had got going after earlier in the stage, and was pushed to the side of the road by some spectators. Latvala was holding the lead now from Hayden and Mads was now in third after the demise of the Estonian. This confirmed Seb and Julien as this year’s world champions, with their closest rivals now out.

 

The final stage then of the rally and the entire year…. SS24, Wedding Bells and the power stage. Top five was, Ogier, Lappi, Ostberg, Evans and rally winner Latvala, taking his first victory since Rally Sweden 2017.

 

FINAL STANDINGS

  1. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:59:52.0
  2. Paddon / Marshall (Hyundai i20 WRC) +32.5
  3. Ostberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 WRC) +52.2
  4. Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:02.3
  5. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:30.8
  6. Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:05.1
  7. Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) +8:59.1

What an amazing rally. Seb and Julien emerged as champions again after a thrilling battle throughout the year. In their second year back, Toyota have taken the manufacturers world title. Very impressive indeed.

 

Let’s hear then from the drivers, top three first.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala

“I am so happy to win again. It was quite a relief after such a long time! The conditions today were incredibly demanding, and it would have been very easy to go off the road. Everything went my way today, and I am sorry for Ott that his rally ended in the way it did. I was very excited and nervous at the start of the final stage, but we managed to do it. To win the manufacturers’ title is fantastic. I am so proud of the team and what they have created. Everybody has worked so hard and they deserve this reward!”

 

Hayden Paddon

“A great weekend for us! I’m really pleased to be back on the podium and to take our best result of the season. This feels like a proper podium. I felt the last few we’ve benefitted from others’ misfortune but we’ve definitely earned this one. Each year we’ve been getting one place better in Australia, so I must be on to win it next year! We’ve made good strategy calls all weekend and I’ve felt comfortable in the car. Thanks to the team and to the travelling Kiwi fans who have come out in their droves to support us. It makes all the difference. We have to see what happens next season but I hope this result helps our cause.”

 

Mads Østberg

“It really has been a weekend of ups – particularly on Friday’s leg when we were leading the rally – and downs, especially yesterday when we were a little bit less comfortable on the stages. It wasn’t easy to come back after two months on the sofa and such a long break since Wales Rally GB. But we kept on fighting, we never gave up and continued to put pressure on our rivals today. Our consistency and strength today on the extremely slippery stages were rewarded in the end!”

 

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Esapekka Lappi (4th)

“Today was definitely one of the toughest days of the season: the conditions were very tricky and that meant you couldn’t enjoy the driving quite as much. It is nice to end this part of my career in this way, by helping the team to win the manufacturers’ title. I really wanted to finish on top but at least we had a good rally where we were back on the pace. Thank you to everyone in the team for their support.”

 

Ott Tänak (Retired)

“Congratulations to everybody in the team. They have done a great job. Personally, I can be disappointed about how it ended for me today, but in general I am really happy: I have the strongest car in the championship and strong people around me. It was a great battle all year; we were always trying our best. I went off in a really tricky stage with a lot of muddy places. I think it didn’t change too much in either championship though. I am really happy with my season and we will keep pushing next year.”

 

M-Sport Ford

Sébastien Ogier (5th)

“It’s been an incredible season and the fight has been so close. Not so long ago we thought it was going to be difficult to take the title again, but we never gave up. We gave it everything and had such an amazing team around us. I am so proud of all of them and of course I want to thank Malcolm for another amazing job. What we achieved together over the past two years has been really special, and I am very proud of that.”

 

Elfyn Evans (6th)

“Congratulations to Seb, Julien and the whole team. I’m glad they were able to secure this one and – even though it wasn’t always easy – I’m glad we were able to help them where we could. Obviously for various reasons our season didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but the speed was there and hopefully we’ll have a chance to prove that again next year.”

 

Teemu Suninen (DNF)

“It was a shame not to have finished this rally, but I am really happy for the team and for Seb and Julien who really deserved this Championship. Everyone has worked really hard and it’s nice to see this result for them.”

 

“For me, I think I showed some good improvement this weekend and was able to set some good times on Friday. On the weekend I learnt a lot about how to drive in the loose gravel, and I’m looking forward to next year when I can build on everything, I learnt this season.”

 

Citroen Racing

Craig Breen (7th)

“It’s been a really tough event for us, especially since our mistake yesterday meant we had to open the road on these very tricky stages today. Saying that, the positive for me is that once again we had really good pace in the C3 WRC, especially during the first leg.”

 

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville

“We gave it everything and had to take some risks today to try and capture the title. Even it was only a small chance, we had nothing to lose. In SS22, the conditions were really bad, and we simply went wide and clipped a tree. That was it, championship over. It has been a difficult and tricky weekend, and not the way we wanted the season to end but it’s part of the game. I would like to say thanks to the team and everyone at Hyundai Motorsport in Alzenau for giving us the car to fight for the title this year. Congratulations to Sébastien and Julien; it has been great to fight with them this year. We knew there would be one winning crew and that two would go home empty handed. It’s unfortunate we are the unlucky ones on this occasion. It’s been a great season for WRC and we’ve attracted some new fans, so now we have a short break and we can look ahead to another season.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen

“In many ways I am pleased that the 2018 season has come to a close. It has been a troublesome year for me. This weekend is a perfect example; we’ve been quick and competitive at times but our event has been overshadowed by pure bad luck. Throughout the year we have made improvements and felt increasingly comfortable with the car, we just haven’t been able to translate that into results. Still, it has been a great season for the fans and it has been a pleasure to be part of it. We have had great support from the team and we’re all pushing in the right direction. We now look forward to a bit of time off, and then some proper testing ahead of Monte when we’ll go again in good spirits.”

 

Well, what an event! Look out soon for my season review.

FIA World Rally Championship 2018 / Round 13 / Rally Australia 2018 / November 15-18, 2018 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

  1. Sébastien Ogier – 219 points
  2. Thierry Neuville – 201 points
  3. Ott Tänak – 181 points
  4. Jari-Matti Latvala – 128 points
  5. Esapekka Lappi – 126 points
  6. Andreas Mikkelsen – 84 points
  7. Elfyn Evans – 80 points
  8. Hayden Paddon – 73 points
  9. Dani Sordo – 71 points
  10. Mads Ostberg – 70 points

 

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

  1. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 368 points
  2. Hyundai WRT – 341 points
  3. M-Sport Ford WRT – 324 points
  4. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT – 237 points

Rally Finland 2018 Review – Ott Tanak takes it!

After a fight through Friday with Mads Ostberg for the lead of this rally, Ott Tanak opened up a good lead through Saturday and then controlled his pace and 15 years after the last Estonian to win Rally Finland, took a very well-deserved victory. The championship protagonists found themselves playing bit parts further down the standings.

 

Here’s the story of how Rally Finland played out.

 

After Thursday’s short evening stage, Ott held the lead from Thierry and Seb.

 

The start list looked like this for Friday’s stages, running in championship order – Neuville, Ogier, Tänak, Lappi, Mikkelsen, Evans, Latvala, Breen, Ostberg, Suninen, Paddon, Al Qassimi. Ten stages awaited the crews out there.

 

The first stage of the day, SS2, was won by Ott, with Mads just behind, 1.3 seconds slower than the Toyota driver, with Teemu Suninen a further few seconds behind in third, and this was now the overall top three with Seb and Thierry now in seventh and ninth respectively. Craig suffered a puncture seven km’s into the twenty km stage, losing 47 seconds and falling to 18th overall. We would see a fightback from him through the rest of the rally.

 

Stage 3, a shorter 12km stage was won by Jari-Matti and with that, he passed Teemu, moving into a podium position. Craig put the disappointment of the puncture behind him and drove to second fastest, just eight tenths slower, whilst Ott increased the overall lead over Mads a little. Further back, Seb and Thierry were still in seventh and ninth, their road position hurting them.

 

Stage 4 saw a couple of dramatic moments – Mads took the lead after setting a great time 4.8 seconds faster than Ott and now in the lead by just half a second. However, Hyundai driver, Andreas went off the road, losing more than three minutes. Craig’s pace in the last two stages had brought him up into tenth overall.

 

The following stage, number 5 saw greater pace from Ott and coupled with some little mistakes from Mads, he retook the lead, by just 1.1 seconds. A mistake from Thierry saw him drop behind Craig and the Belgian was now over a minute behind the leader. Hayden though was now the top Hyundai driver, just nine tenths slower and second fastest, meaning he was now in fourth overall.

 

Midday service followed this stage, and then it was time to tackle the remaining six stages.

 

Mads started off in a strong way, winning stage 6 and retaking the lead from Ott and with Teemu going several seconds quicker than Jari-Matti and Hayden, he moved back into third overall! Showing how competitive these cars are three different cars in the top three, just nineteen seconds between them.

 

Mads and Ott continued their fight for the lead in stage 7, with them both setting identical times through the stage, the lead remaining at one tenth of a second. Jari-Matti retook third overall. Further back, Thierry remained in tenth overall, now one minute 41 from the lead, whilst Seb was in seventh, 54 seconds from first place.

 

Top three in stage 8 was Craig, Esapekka and Jari-Matti, whilst the overall top two were fifth and ninth fastest. It was Mads who opened up a gap of 1.9 seconds over Ott. The Norwegian was driving to a safe pace, knowing Ott wasn’t as fast.

 

The lead swapped again in stage 9 after Ott was fastest and with Mads nearly three seconds slower, the Estonian retook the lead by a second. Mads was not letting him get away, driving a sensible but fast stage as his tyres were quite worn. The rest of the positions in the top ten were pretty static though.

 

Stage 10 was won by Ott and with Mads seventh fastest there was now a 4.3 second gap between them. Further back, Hayden repassed Teemu in their battle over fourth place and Seb passed Elfyn, the Frenchman now in sixth. Craig set the fifth fastest time in the stage, despite starting to suffer with brake problems near the end.

 

The final stage of the day, 11, saw Seb set the fastest time from Ott and Thierry, who set identical times. Craig and Kalid suffered with fuel pressure problems in their C3’s, with Craig losing 27 seconds, but didn’t drop out of the top ten at least. A real shame for him, after a very good drive through the day after the puncture.

 

So, what a day. Toyota and Citroen both shared out the stage wins and Ott ended the day in the lead. Mads had driven really well, and had kept a great pace, leading at times as well.

 

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1

  1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1:02:26.0
  2. Ostberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 WRC) + 5.8
  3. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 23.1
  4. Paddon / Marshall (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 36.4
  5. Suninen / Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 46.1
  6. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 58.9
  7. Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 1:01.1
  8. Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 1:01.4
  9. Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) + 1:34.1
  10. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:57.7

24. Al Qassimi / Patterson (Citroën C3 WRC) +8:28.5

 

Let’s hear from the drivers. Top three first.

 

Ott Tänak

“I am really happy with my day. Everything has been working just perfectly. I have a lot of confidence in the car and it is really nice to drive on these roads. Except for one moment where I stalled the engine and lost a bit of time, I did everything that I could. The roads have been pretty slippery with a lot of cleaning. Tomorrow, we will have the same conditions as the guys we have been fighting with today, which will be good, but it still won’t be easy.”

FIA World Rally Championship 2018 / Round 08 / Rally Finland 2018 / July 26-29, 2018 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC

Mads Østberg

“I’m delighted for everyone in the team that I have managed to produce such a solid performance. We have all worked so hard together in order to make it happen. I really enjoyed driving my C3 WRC throughout the whole day. We are now going to try and keep it up tomorrow!”

Jari-Matti Latvala

“I think today has been pretty good. On the first stage it was difficult to get into the rhythm, but then I found it on the second stage. I also made the car a bit stiffer to have some more stability, and since that I’ve been happy. I was a bit too careful on the first stage this afternoon but I was able to fight back and claim third position. I am enjoying the driving and hopefully I can improve a bit more tomorrow.”

 

M-Sport Ford WRT

Teemu Suninen (5th)

“It’s been a tough day. We were fighting for a podium position but then we had a few issues and dropped down to fifth. The driving has been on an okay level, but there is still some more to find and I hope that I can find that tomorrow.”

Sébastien Ogier (6th)

“If I’m honest, I expected things to happen the way they did today. With the roads being so dry, it was a tough day for us and we lost some time for sure. That said, I have to say hats off to Ott [Tänak] because he has been flying. Starting just behind us, he was setting times which were really impressive to watch.

“I think I did more or less what I could today. Of course, I could have gone a little faster – a few tenths here and there – but then I would have needed to take some big risks. Our road position will be a bit better tomorrow, and hopefully we can find some small things to be a bit faster. It’s not been an easy day, but we’ll keep trying tomorrow.”

Elfyn Evans (7th)

“We can’t be completely satisfied as this isn’t really the position we were looking for. Although to be fair, it was pretty clear that the road evolution played a big part over the morning loop. With the exception of Ott [Tänak] who was just on a different planet, we were faster than everyone in front of us but the guys behind were faster than us.

“We then struggled on a few stages this afternoon so it was okay but not perfect. There’s still a long way to go, and Saturday was a really good day for us last year – so we have to try and let’s just see what happens.”

 

Hyundai Motorsport

Hayden Paddon (4th)

“I think we can be pretty happy with our opening day, even if we could have probably taken a few more risks. We didn’t want to overdo it, because we were focused on getting the set-up right for the whole weekend. In the morning loop, we had to adapt to the conditions and our pace notes were a bit slow in places. From there, we started to enjoy the car and the stages more. We’ve been consistent, had good pace and that’s allowed us to stay in touch with the leading three. We’ve now got to build on this over the next two days.”

Thierry Neuville (10th)

“Starting first on the road, particularly in this event, makes life really tough from the outset. There was not much more we could do, as we struggled for grip and consistency. Things weren’t helped by the mistake in SS5 when we were too optimistic with a pace note. I was thinking about correcting it, but then missed the next one and ended up going straight into a ditch. We had to take it a bit easier after that. The mechanics did a great job at midday service to fix the car. We are losing some positions compared to Ogier, so we can’t really be happy but we knew it would be hard. We can only do our best in these circumstances and minimise the damage.”

2018 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 08, Rally Finland
26-29 July 2018
Day 1
Action
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Photographer: Helena El Mokni
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Andreas Mikkelsen

“It has been a very challenging start to Rally Finland for us. We made a mistake in SS4 during the morning loop, but we’ve struggled for pace throughout the day. You never want to make a mistake but I misheard a pace note. I thought Anders had said five minus, when it should have been four, which is quite a difference. We had a slow roll but were pushed back onto the stage by the Finnish spectators, who were very helpful. Thanks to my mechanics for getting us ready for the afternoon. We still have some work to do to get the right feeling but we will aim for a fresh start on Saturday.”

 

Citroen Abu Dhabi Racing WRT

Craig Breen (9th)

“In terms of the times, we had a good rhythm and overall, it was a good day. Obviously, it’s frustrating to have picked up a puncture this morning and then to have had the fuel problem this evening, but that’s the way it goes, I guess. It’s gone now, so we’re already focusing on tomorrow’s leg. We’ll try to enjoy ourselves on these magnificent roads and do even better.”

Craig Breen, Scott Martin – Photo credit, Citroen Racing

Khalid Al Qassimi (24th)

“I really liked the fast, typically Finnish stages. Less so the stages that were very narrow and rough, but I adopted a cautious approach in these sections in order to keep out of trouble. I’m going to try and up my pace during the rest of the rally.”

 

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Esapekka Lappi (8th)

“This morning was a bit of a struggle: I stalled in a junction in the first stage, which was very disappointing, and after that I was having difficulty finding a rhythm. In service the engineers found a small issue on the car and were able to fix it. After that, it started to go well and the speed was more like what I was expecting. Of course, I wanted to be fighting for the victory, but there are still two days to go and some good chances to gain positions.”

 

Saturday would see eight stages for the crews to tackle and the start order looked like this – Al Qassimi, Mikkelsen, Neuville, Breen, Lappi, Evans, Ogier, Suninen, Paddon, Latvala, Østberg, Tänak.

 

Starting with SS12, the top three was Ott, Mads and Jari-Matti and now Ott’s lead had increased over Mads and Latvala was now on a mission to catch Mads. Further down the leaderboard, Esapekka and Elfyn overtook Ogier, who was now down to eighth.

 

Into SS13 and Ott increased his lead over Mads, who in turn was doing enough to keep Jari-Matti at arm’s length. Further back, just 14 seconds covered the gap between 6th and 8th. Craig was driving well and enjoying the car on the stages and wishing for a better road position.

 

In SS14, Ott continued to make the most of his road position and increased his lead a further few seconds, his overall lead now over twenty seconds after Mads made a couple of mistakes. Seb also passed Elfyn for seventh place.

 

The shorter stage SS15 saw Ott still faster than Mads, whose tyres were not giving him the feel he wanted. Last years winner, Lappi set a great time, going fourth fastest and passing Teemu for fifth place.

 

After service, the same stage was run as SS16. Jari-Matti and Ott set the same time, whilst Mads was only fifth fastest, losing a little over three seconds to the charging Finn. He’d made some changes to the car during the service break, with the hope that these would give him the opportunity to push harder on the longer stages.

 

Lappi kept the stage wins in the Toyota team camp with a great time through SS17. Jari-Matti closed the gap to Mads by five seconds, just twelve seconds between them now. The reason for this was that he had two spare tyres in the car and was finding the car harder to drive on the limit with the extra weight.

 

Esapekka won the following stage too, SS18 and with that moved ahead of Hayden Paddon, deposing the Kiwi to fifth, whilst the gap between Mads and Jari-Matti came down another four seconds to eight between them now. The ruts in the stage were hindering Craig, plus a little change that he made to his car between the stages actually gave the car understeer, and not giving him confidence to push into the corners.

 

Lappi really was on a mission, winning SS19 and building a gap to Hayden too, with a nine second gap between them. The fight was still on between Mads in second and Jari-Matti who wanted that position, with the Toyota driver taking another three seconds out of the Norwegian and now just five seconds behind. They’d have to wait now till Sunday to continue their battle.

 

It had been a remarkably good day, with just one accident and no reliability issues either. We still had all of the top cars and drivers.

 

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2

  1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:13:18.2
  2. Ostberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 WRC) + 39.0
  3. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 44.4
  4. Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 1:20.6
  5. Paddon / Marshall (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 1:29.6
  6. Suninen / Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 1:45.1
  7. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 2:07.6
  8. Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 2:17.9
  9. Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) + 2:56.4
  10. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:34.5

 

 

Let’s hear again then from the drivers after day two. Top three first

 

Ott Tänak

“Overall, it has been another a good day. In the morning we were in a good rhythm and our road position was so much better than yesterday, so we managed to increase the gap even though I was not pushing as hard. This afternoon I was a lot more cautious because the roads were pretty rough and we already had a good gap. It was not so enjoyable to drive like this, but we still managed to increase our lead, so I cannot complain. Tomorrow we have some pretty smooth and fast stages and I’m looking forward to it.”

Mads Østberg

“Once again, we gave it everything today on these magnificent and very demanding roads. With the warm conditions, in the afternoon we had to contend with high tyre wear. We also had extra weight from the two spares we took for the second loop, but I think we managed really very well to hang onto second place! I’m pretty confident about tomorrow. We’ve already shown that we can hold off Latvala.”

Jari-Matti Latvala

“It has been really enjoyable today. There was still a little bit of speed missing during the morning loop but we made some changes to the car in mid-day service and I started to get a better feeling and I could start to push more. This meant that I was wearing my tyres a lot, but it was amazing how fast we were still able to go. Of course, we need to try and attack tomorrow and try to get second place. But of course, if you do risks they need to be controlled risks and that’s important.”

 

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Esapekka Lappi (4th)

“It has been a really strong day, particularly this afternoon. The morning was pretty enjoyable and we managed to gain three places already. Then during the afternoon, I pushed really hard, and didn’t save the tyres at all. This was a very risky game because we didn’t have much rubber left for the last stage, and yet we were still fastest! Now the target for tomorrow is to stay ahead of the guys behind us.”

 

Hyundai Motorsport

Hayden Paddon (5th)

“It has been a marginally better day compared to Friday being second on the road. I feel we’ve had a decent day, considering, taking no risks. We know we have nothing to play for. It’s a difficult situation but we absolutely accept that. Now, we need to keep the car on the road and get to the end of the rally. Having led the championship for a few events, we knew there would come a time when our job would be trickier – and this rally is that moment! Finland is a particular event; we just have to enjoy it and accept our limitations.”

2018 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 08, Rally Finland
26-29 July 2018
Hayden Paddon, Seb Marshall, Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Photographer: Austral
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Thierry Neuville (10th)

“It has been a marginally better day compared to Friday being second on the road. I feel we’ve had a decent day, considering, taking no risks. We know we have nothing to play for. It’s a difficult situation but we absolutely accept that. Now, we need to keep the car on the road and get to the end of the rally. Having led the championship for a few events, we knew there would come a time when our job would be trickier – and this rally is that moment! Finland is a particular event; we just have to enjoy it and accept our limitations.”

Andreas Mikkelsen (11th)

“It is always hard to be first on the road. Thierry had to manage yesterday and today it was my turn. We have had to use today’s stages effectively to get some mileage under our belts in an effort to improve the car. We are trying in all areas to find solutions but there’s not much we can do this weekend.”

 

M-Sport Ford WRT

Teemu Suninen (6th) said:

“We made some good progress throughout the day and were able to make the car a bit faster during the midday service. In the second loop I had a much better feeling for the car and was able to set some much better times. We’re still missing a bit of pace compared to the guys at the front, but I was able to beat both of my team mates which means I can be happy with my day and my driving.”

Sébastien Ogier (7th) said:

“Performance wise, it’s not been the weekend we wanted – but we are ahead of Thierry [Neuville] which is always the main target. We’re still in a position to close the gap in the championship, and that is a positive.

“We all expected the Toyota’s to be the benchmark this weekend, but we were hoping to be closer too. We’re happy about the new package of parts, but with only one day of testing it was going to be a bit of a risk. We’ve used today as another test session, but we still have some work to do before we’re where we ultimately want to be.”

Elfyn Evans (8th) said:

“It’s not been a bad day and all three of us have been fighting quite closely together – although for sure we’d all like to have been fighting a bit higher up the leader board! We lost a bit of time this afternoon as I didn’t want to take the risks. We’ve got to play the team game and whatever happens we won’t be finishing ahead of Sébastien [Ogier] so it wasn’t worth taking the risks.”

Elfyn Evans and Dan Barritt, Photo credit M-Sport

Citroen Abu Dhabi Racing WRT

Craig Breen (9th)

“Although it’s always frustrating for us as drivers to not be able to do any more, we had a decent day given our road position, setting similar times to those around us in the running order.”

Khalid Al Qassimi (Rally2)

“It’s a shame to have made a mistake in a technical section on the loose gravel, but these things can happen at events that are as difficult as this one. I have high hopes that I can make up some ground again tomorrow.”

 

Sunday would see four stages, totalling 45km, and they were all a little over 11km each in length. There was also the spectacular Ruuhimäki, with its huge jumps, including at the finish!

 

The running order was – Mikkelsen, Neuville, Breen, Evans, Ogier, Suninen, Paddon, Lappi, Latvala, Ostberg, Tänak, Al Qassimi.

 

The first stage of the day SS20, saw the demise of Esapekka Lappi, who crashed out. This promoted everyone up a position and now Andreas was in the top ten. Meantime Mads won the stage with Jari-Matti just nine-tenths of a second behind and second fastest.

 

This battle continued in SS21 and it was Jari-Matti who won the stage from Mads and the gap was now around five seconds again. Ott remained in control and in the lead, which was now thirty-three seconds.

 

Jari-Matti was really on a mission now, winning SS21 from Mads again, the overall gap between them now, just two and a half seconds. This was the only battle now, with the gaps between the others too big to overcome.

 

The final stage then, SS22 and Ott won it, taking maximum points from the weekend! Mads prevailed over a charging Latvala, scoring a great second place for him and Torstein would be standing on his first WRC podium too! We saw team orders come into play too, with Teemu slipping behind M-Sport team leader Ogier, allowing the reigning champion to take fifth place.

 

Well, Ott and Toyota had done it. They’d followed up Lappi’s victory from last year, and Jari-Matti had got a great podium with third. All three on the podium, had driven really well all weekend. None had been gifted their finishing position. The championship rivals were well down the field, Seb getting some assistance from Teemu and Elfyn to get fifth, whilst Thierry crossed the line in ninth place and keeping a good gap, if slightly reduced to Ogier.

 

Here’s the thoughts then of the drivers, starting with the top three.

 

Ott Tanak

“It has been a perfect weekend. Everything worked as we wanted. On Friday we had a really big job with our road position, and after that we could just increase our advantage. We had the perfect preparation and full support from the team. If you work together as one then these kinds of results are achievable. To win in Finland is definitely special. It’s kind of a home rally for me and it’s the home rally for the team. To win in front of all this support is incredible.”

FIA World Rally Championship 2018 / Round 08 / Rally Finland 2018 / July 26-29, 2018 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC

Mads Østberg

“I’m really, really happy to fighting at the front again on these incredible stages! It’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my racing career. I’m also delighted for everyone at Citroën. The guys did a fantastic job to get us in this position and I’m proud to be a part of this team. I knew from our pre-event test that this C3 WRC was the best car that I’d ever had on this rally and I’m pleased that we managed to show it this weekend.”

Mads Østberg was overjoyed with second place! Photo credit, Citroen Racing

Jari-Matti Latvala

“I gave everything today to try and get second place. It was a great fight. It really helps with the confidence when you fight as hard as this and you can keep everything together and not make mistakes. To be back on the podium after quite a long time feels really good, and especially to do it here in Finland. Together with the victory for Ott, this was a really important result for the team.”

 

Hyundai Motorsport

Hayden Paddon (4th)

“On the whole, I’m really happy with the weekend. We have been able to keep pace with some of the event favourites, maintaining a consistent performance. Naturally, we would have preferred to score a podium, of course, but we took a measured approach to secure important points for the manufacturers’ championship. The final morning was all about taking it easy to bring the car home with a comfortable gap behind us. I’ve really enjoyed the stages this weekend, the car has been a joy to drive and it has given me the confidence I need. We are back on the right track.”

Thierry Neuville (9th)

“Road position has really dictated a lot this weekend. Even without our mistake on Friday, when we misread a pace note, I don’t think we would have been any higher up the classification. We have had to accept our limits and focus on completing each stage with no further trouble. The main target was not losing too many points to Ogier, which we did to the best of our ability. We could only control what’s in our hands. We gave it everything we could in the Power Stage and it was good to take a couple of extra points. Overall, we have done our best, the team has done a good job and we can be proud of ourselves. We now look ahead to the team’s home event in Germany.”

Andreas Mikkelsen (10th)

“A difficult weekend for us. Any chance we might have had to feature further up the order was spoiled with our time loss on Friday morning’s loop. Losing three minutes due to a pace note error was just what we didn’t need, and it meant we were penalised as first on the road for Saturday and again this morning. We have had to avoid any unnecessary risks and use this event as a way of better understanding the car in these conditions but I’m sure we’ll be back on pace in Germany.”

 

M-Sport Ford WRT

Sébastien Ogier (5th)

“For sure it was a difficult weekend for us and we expected to be a lot more competitive. The Fiesta performed really well here last year and every driver was able to set fastest times. That wasn’t the case this year and it was a bit of a bad surprise.

“We tried all we could, but there wasn’t a lot more we could do. That’s how it is and we just have to try and analyse why we were not able to keep up the pace this weekend. The positive is that we scored more points than Thierry [Neuville] – and that is anyways always our main target.”

Seb Ogier, Julian Ingrassia reduced the points lead after finishing four places ahead of Thierry and Nicolas. Photo credit M-Sport Ford WRT

Teemu Suninen (6th)

“It’s been a tough weekend for us. We wanted to challenge for the podium, but we were missing some pace and couldn’t fight with the fastest drivers. I was able to beat my team mates and I am happy with that, but we let Seb past just before the last stage as he’s the one fighting for the championship.”

Elfyn Evans (7th)

“It’s not been a terrible weekend driving wise and I don’t think anyone can say that they don’t enjoy driving these stages, but for sure seventh place wasn’t the result we wanted.”

 

Citroen Abu Dhabi Racing WRT

Craig Breen (8th)

“It was a difficult weekend for us, with the puncture on Friday that proved very costly, leaving us to clean the road for two days. We nevertheless managed to show our pace whenever the conditions enabled us to do so. It was nice, especially, to finish with a good time on the Power Stage, which means we can now look ahead to Germany with optimism.”

Khalid Al Qassimi (37th)

“Although it was a difficult rally for us, with our mistake yesterday morning, I’m pleased we were able to re-join the action today and enjoy these incredible stages. Above all, I’m delighted for the team, whose hard work has been rewarded by a great result.”

 

FINAL STANDINGS

  1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2 :35:18.1
  2. Ostberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 WRC) + 32.7
  3. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 35.5
  4. Paddon / Marshall (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 1:35.6
  5. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 2:15.0
  6. Suninen / Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 2:19.2
  7. Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 2:29.5
  8. Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) + 3:08.4
  9. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:51.8
  10. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +8:37.4

 

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

  1. Thierry Neuville – 153 points
  2. Sébastien Ogier – 132 points
  3. Ott Tänak – 107 points
  4. Esapekka Lappi – 70 points
  5. Dani Sordo – 60 points
  6. Andreas Mikkelsen – 57 points
  7. Jari-Matti Latvala – 55 points
  8. Elfyn Evans – 52 points
  9. Mads Ostberg – 48 points
  10. Kris Meeke – 43 points
  11. Craig Breen – 39 points

 

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

  1. Hyundai WRT – 228 points
  2. M-Sport Ford WRT – 202 points
  3. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 201 points
  4. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT – 153 points

Well, the next round is Rallye Germany, 16th to the 19th of August, the scene of Thierry’s first win in 2014 for Hyundai. It really will be battle on for the championship between the Belgian and M-Sport’s champion Seb. Who else can challenge there? We know Elfyn goes well on tarmac, and Seb took a tarmac win this year too. Clearly, Citroen are making progress with their car again and you can’t discount Toyota, as they have last years winner, Ott as well!

 

It’ll be a fascinating event!

 

Till then, bye!