Ogier snatches second Rally Sweden victory

Discussion in 'Motorsports' started by R.J. O'Connell, Feb 15, 2015.

  1. R.J. O'Connell

    R.J. O'Connell

    Sebastian Ogier and Julien Ingrassia - Rally Sweden Winners.jpg
    Sebastien Ogier has won the 2015 Rally Sweden, with the Frenchman and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia triumphing after a thrilling fight to the finish that saw the three leading drivers enter the final stage of the rally separated by a margin of less than five seconds.

    Going into the rally-closing Power Stage in Värmullsåsen, Ogier was down just 4.6 seconds to his Volkswagen Motorsport teammate Andreas Mikkelsen, who led second place Thierry Neuville by three seconds. Mikkelsen seemed to be well on his way to becoming just the second Norwegian driver to win Rally Sweden, until a spin in the final third of the final stage cost him over thirty seconds. With the young Norwegian's aspirations of victory blasted into a deep freeze against the unforgiving snow banks, the champion Ogier pressed on to win the final stage, and with it, his second victory in this historic event - it's only the third time in sixty-three installments that a non-Scandinavian driver has won Rally Sweden.

    Neuville, who led going into the final day of the rally, finished second in the final stage, and second overall to claim his very first podium finish in Sweden. The Belgian also set a new record at the famed Colin's Crest on Saturday, with a spectacular leap of 44 meters. Mikkelsen's mistake did not prove entirely fatal, he still finished third overall to open his 2015 campaign with back-to-back podium finishes, but he will undoubtedly be rueing that mistake in the final run through Värmullsåsen knowing that his first WRC victory seemed assured.

    “This was one of the most exciting WRC events,” said Ogier after the race. “It’s a crazy win because I had to push flat out from the beginning of the rally to the end. My first win here two years ago was a hard fight, but I had to play everything here in the final stage and it was a fantastic end. Andreas did a great job and he’s very young so we’ll have many more future battles. I made only one mistake on Friday and apart from that I’m proud to have kept the car on the road at that level of speed."

    A tearful Mikkelsen commented after the race, “We gave it all in the last stage, but there was a bank full of snow and we were stuck. We tried and hopefully we’ll get more luck next time.”

    Ogier's twenty-sixth career WRC event win moves him ahead of the legendary Colin McRae, and into a tie for third place on the all-time rally wins leaders with two-time World Rally Champion, Carlos Sainz. With the maximum twenty-eight points awarded for taking overall victory and winning the Power Stage, Ogier moves into a comfortable lead in the Championship table just two races in, leading by twenty-three points over the joint holders of second place, Neuville and Mikkelsen.

    Behind them, Ford M-Sport driver Ott Tänak finished fourth to record his best overall result in the WRC since the 2012 Rally Sardegna, in which the Estonian scored his only podium finish to date. Hayden Paddon, who was called in to replace an injured Dani Sordo at Hyundai, rounded out the top five - it's the Kiwi's best overall result in the WRC, and the sixth consecutive points-paying finish in his last six entries. British drivers Elfyn Evans and top-ranked Citroen driver Kris Meeke were sixth and seventh respectively, with both drivers recording personal best finishes at this event. Czech driver Martin Prokop was eighth, followed by Ukrainian driver Yuriy Protasov, who in addition to scoring his best career WRC result and his first points of the 2015 season, also claimed his first-ever stage win at Kirkenær on Day two. Mads Østberg rounded out the top ten, and claimed the final point for finishing third in the Power Stage, but snaps a four-year podium streak in Sweden.

    Last year's Rally Sweden winner Jari-Matti Latvala was chasing down Ogier late Friday, in search of his fourth win in Sweden, until he had his event ruined by a crash into a snow bank on Stage 10 that cost him several minutes, and he finished the event in twelfth overall without a single point to his credit, an early wound to the Finn's championship hopes as he drops to fourth in the championship standings. He joins other hard-luck entrants such as Kevin Abbring, the young Dutchman who just missed out on points in his debut for Hyundai in eleventh place, and Robert Kubica, who was already well down the order on Saturday before being given an additional five-minute penalty at the end of the day due to an engine overboosting violation.

    Finland's Jari Ketomaa scored victory in the WRC-2 class, while the overwhelming local favorite Pontus Tidemand, who secured a sensational overall victory in the Karlstad Super Special stage to open the rally Thursday night, could only manage fifth overall in the category.

    The World Rally Championship will move to the Americas for the next round, Rally Guanujuato Mexico, in March. It's the first gravel round of the championship, and an event Sebastien Ogier has won each of the last two years.
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  2. Bram Hengeveld

    Bram Hengeveld
    Founder Staff Premium

    Still drooling over that Colin's Crest record jump.