Ogier scores a last-gasp thrilling victory!
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia snatched victory in Rally Jordan in the very last stage, the Power Stage shown live on TV throughout the world. The Citroën Total World Rally Team crew won by two-tenths of a second, the smallest gap ever at the end of a WRC round. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, who came third, have now taken the overall lead in the Drivers’ World Championship, while Citroën is now dead-heating for first place in the Manufacturers’ World Championship.
Sébastien Ogier continues to surprise us! Three weeks after Portugal this victory is a really exceptional performance to which we should associate the DS3 WRC.
With 115 kilometers of special stages, the second day of Rally Jordan looked like being a hotly-contested one between the four drivers in the running for victory: Sébastien Ogier, Sébastien Loeb, Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg. Loeb was the first to lay down a marker when he set the fastest time in Yakrut (SS13), but Jari-Matti Latvala’s all-out attack pushed the seven-time world champion back to third.
At the midday service break, Sébastien Ogier was still leading the rally with some twenty seconds in hand over Latvala:”I set off at a fast pace in the first stage, but when I saw Seb’s time I knew I had to push harder in the next ones. We managed to make the best of it as we’ve still got a lead that’s in keeping with our estimations. It’s not a big enough cushion, though. I’m going to have to go pedal to the metal right till the end to win the rally.”
“I’m not giving anything away, but I’ve a tendency to make small errors in trying to find the limits,” said Loeb. “We’re going to modify the setup as we’re losing time in the twistier sections, which is where I thought I’d be quicker. We’re going to fight till the bitter end.”
After losing some ten seconds after a wheel came off a rim in SS15, Petter Solberg retired after he went off in SS17. This meant that barring unexpected incidents, Ogier, Latvala and Loeb were assured of a place on the podium. But in which order?
By winning three stages in succession (SS17-19) Jari-Matti Latvala closed the gap to Ogier and took the lead by 5/10s just before the Power Stage. Loeb decided it was better to settle for third and lifted off. This left only Latvala and Ogier locked in battle for victory. They both gave their all in the final stage. The Citroën Total World Rally Team members could not believe their eyes when they saw their driver setting the fastest time and beating his rival by just 2/10s!
“Sébastien Ogier continues to surprise us! Three weeks after Portugal this victory is a really exceptional performance to which we should associate the DS3 WRC, which again put on a stunning display both in terms of speed and reliability,” said Olivier Quesnel, the Citroën Racing Team Principal. "We’re also delighted with Sébastien Loeb’s performance as he was in a tricky situation because of his position on the road. This podium has put him in the lead in the Drivers’ World Championship, and that’s the most important thing.”
“Despite the fact that we were pushing like crazy, Jari-Matti gave us a hard time today” said the delighted winner. “He banged in incredible times and we almost felt that there was nothing we could do about it. Thanks to the reversed order in the final stage, sweeping had no influence and we were able to do battle on an equal footing. It was tough, but we never stopped thinking we could win, and Lady Luck smiled on us! It’s hardly believable to win the rally by such a tiny margin, but we’ve bagged the maximum amount of points with the Power Stage bonus. That’s put us back in the title hunt and it augurs well the rest of the season.”