Ogier concludes day two in Sweden in P1
9 February 2013
Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier increased his advantage slightly this afternoon and he will now take a 26.9 second cushion into the final day of Rally Sweden, the second round in the 2013 World Rally Championship.
Ogier's overnight lead was trimmed from 31.4 seconds to 25.2 seconds this morning, however, on the repeat runs, the Frenchman left no doubt as to who was in charge, setting the joint quickest time in SS13, before winning outright SS14 and SS15. The Polo R WRC pilot then concluded the day with the second best time in SS16, Hagfors Sprint 2, just 1.1 seconds off the pace.
“Up until now it has really been a perfect rally for us. The car is simply brilliant, which makes it a joy to drive quickly,” Ogier said. “There is no reason for me to go all out on the attack. Despite this, we are still putting our foot down, as the opposition is applying plenty of pressure. Sebastien Loeb, in particular, is one man you can never write off. If you take your foot off the gas, you risk losing your rhythm.
“We found good pace on today's stages, particularly on the second run. That will be our task for tomorrow too – after all, we still have just short of 100 kilometres of special stage ahead of us.”
Sebastien Loeb meanwhile is now an equally comfortable second, more than 30-seconds up on Mads Ostberg. The Citroen man however, is still annoyed about the time he lost on Friday morning.
“We [Ogier and I] both had a perfect day, but the gap was established yesterday. We paid for our poor performance in qualifying throughout the first leg,” admitted the nine-time World Rally champion. “Once again though, we really enjoyed ourselves in the car. The stages were magnificent even though we had the odd close shave in a few places.”
After his problems in the first loop yesterday, Qatar M-Sport WRT man, Mads Ostberg has been on a charge and the Norwegian closed to within 1.5 seconds of Latvala's VW Polo this morning. He then moved ahead in SS14, finishing the leg 6.1 seconds in front.
“I think we can be happy with the job we have done today,” Ostberg remarked. “We achieved our objective, which was to climb into the top three, and have managed to increase the gap to Jari-Matti. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's Norwegian stages now, but realistically I think we need to concentrate on our own pace and holding onto this position. Loeb and Ogier have been setting some really good times and they will be difficult to catch now. I will continue to fight, but we also need to think. You cannot win a rally on a single stage, but you can for sure lose one!”
“I am not entirely happy today,” Latvala added. “This is because I must work on my performance, rather than that of the Polo R WRC. The car's performance is there, but knowing exactly where the limit is has not yet become second nature to me. Because our rival Mads Ostberg was on such good form today, we lost third place to him. However, we have almost another 100 kilometres ahead of us tomorrow, and the gap is not that big. Let's see what happens on Sunday.”
Behind, Evgeny Novikov rounds out the top five in the second Qatar M-Sport WRT entry, 39.7 seconds off the battle for the final podium spot, while Thierry Neuville is now sixth, and ahead of team-mate, Juho Hanninen. Hanninen had been 15.8 seconds in front, until he made a 'stupid mistake' in the last test and hit a snow bank, losing just over a minute.
“Today had been going well and I was feeling more confident with the car, but then on the last stage [SS16] we got stuck in a snow bank and lost a lot of time. It was maybe 100 metres before the finish and it took a long time to get back on the stage,” Hanninen said. “Obviously it was very disappointing for us – especially as it was on the last stage of the day – but luckily we have only lost one place and I hope we can continue to improve the pace tomorrow.”
Further back, Henning Solberg is eighth on his WRC return, with fellow Ford runner, Martin Prokop ninth and Citroen third driver, Dani Sordo tenth.
“After a disappointing first stage this morning, we changed some of the suspension settings. After that, the car was more balanced and I felt more confident in it,” said Sordo. “We still have some improvements to make and I can make up another place tomorrow. More importantly, I want to go home having had a good feeling in the DS3 WRC.”
In WRC2, Anders Grondal remains in the lead in his Subaru Impreza – and in eleventh place overall. However, Yazeed Al-Rajhi has closed right in, slashing the Norwegian's advantage from over 30 seconds last night to just 4.5 seconds post-SS16. Sepp Wiegand is still third in the class.
As for retirements, the major scalps on day two were Pontus Tidemand, Matt Wilson and Khalid Al-Qassimi. Tidemand was sidelined this morning in SS9 with engine problems, while Wilson went off the road in the same test. Al-Qassimi had to park his Citroen this afternoon following an off in SS14.
“It's a real shame, because I had found decent pace,” Al-Qassimi lamented. “The stages were quicker than yesterday, and I felt good. I got caught out and we had to stop. The engine was overheating since the radiator was damaged.”
Rally Sweden now concludes on Sunday with six stages on the bill and a total competitive distance of 94.29 kilometres. SS17, the 27.07 km Mitandersfors test, is due to kick things off tomorrow at 07.54 hours local time [06.54 hours British time].
Rally Sweden: Overall standings after Stage 16 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 2h 18m 22.8s M
2. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +26.9s M
3. Mads Ostberg Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +57.7s M
4. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +1m 03.8s M
5. Evgeny Novikov Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 43.5s M
6. Thierry Neuville Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3m 16.2s T
7. Juho Hanninen Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +4m 10.5s
8. Henning Solberg Ford Fiesta RS WRC +5m 16.7s
9. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National TeamFord Fiesta RS WRC +7m 56.1s T
10. Dani Sordo Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +8m 31.9s
11. Anders Grondal Subaru Impreza +12m 19.6s WRC2
12. Yazeed Al-Rajhi Ford Fiesta RRC +12m 24.1s WRC2
13. Michal Solowow Peugeot 207 S2000 +13m 57.4s
14. Sepp Wiegand Skoda Fabia S2000 +15m 19.3s WRC2
15. Yuriy Protasov Subaru Impreza WRX STi +19m 04.1s WRC2
16. Michal Kosciousko Lotos Team WRC MINI John Cooper Works WRC +20m 18.6s T
21. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +26m 54.9s M
33. Jarkko Nikara Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC +51m 04.5s
WRC2 standings after Stage 16 (Top 3):
1. Anders Grondal Subaru Impreza 2h 30m 42.4s WRC2
2. Yazeed Al-Rajhi Ford Fiesta RRC +04.5s WRC2
3. Sepp Wiegand Skoda Fabia S2000 +2m 59.7s WRC2
SS5. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta RS WRC Mechanical*
SS9. Pontus Tidemand Ford Fiesta WRC Engine
SS9. Matthew Wilson Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Went off the road
SS14/SS15. Khalid Al-Qassimi Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC Went off T
*denotes re-started under Rally 2
all times unofficial