Wales WRC: Ogier holds off Latvala to seal victory
Sebastien Ogier capitalised on trouble for his WRC title rivals Ott Tanak and Thierry Neuville with a fifth Rally GB victory, fending off Jari-Matti Latvala.
Toyota driver Latvala took the lead with a brilliant run through the second stage of Sunday morning – Gwydir – but Ogier struck back on the next three stages and set a stunning time on Gwydir 2, which he’d struggled on earlier.
Despite lacking first and second gear for some stages on Friday, the M-Sport Ford driver battled hard and was rewarded with a victory by 10.6 seconds over Latvala, with the second Toyota of Esapekka Lappi rounding out the podium.
The result means Thierry Neuville – who finished fifth – holds a seven-point championship lead from Ogier, who started the weekend 23 adrift.
Ott Tanak had held a comfortable lead and looked on course for a fourth consecutive WRC rally victory to cut Neuvile’s lead further, before he lost his sump guard and suffered radiator trouble on Saturday afternoon.
He finished well outside of the top 10 and is now 21 points behind Neuville, clawing back four points for second on the Power Stage. He started the event 13 points behind the Belgian.
Hyundai driver Neuville – whose shot at victory ended with a mistake and a trip into a ditch on Saturday morning – jumped two places on the penultimate stage, rising to fifth ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen and Mads Ostberg, and also closed to gap to 8.2s behind Craig Breen.
But any chance of overcoming Breen was undone for Neuville when the last stage was shortened and delayed due to an incident near the end of the stage, not involving rally cars.
Mikkelsen secured sixth ahead of Hyundai teammate Hayden Paddon, who moved ahead of Ostberg's Citroen.
Kalle Rovanpera took a sensational WRC2 victory, the 18-year-old Finn holding a one-minute gap after Friday morning which he maintained almost effortlessly through the event to take ninth overall.
Reigning champion Pontus Tidemand took second and rounded out the top 10 in a Skoda Motorsport one-two.
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