Championship leader Sebastien Ogier has increased his grip on the 2013 WRC with his fifth win of the year (and 12th career win in WRC) in the Neste Oil Rally Finland, a back-to-back victory after also clinching the last round in Sardinia nearly five weeks ago.

Although Ogier didn't dominate the race in the same way that he had last time out, the Volkswagen driver played a wily game and allowed others to run into trouble throughout the three days in the 1,000 Lakes setting, a strategy that eventually landed him a 36.6 second victory over Qatar WRT's Thierry Neuville in the Ford Fiesta R5.

Ogier's team mate Jari-Matti Latvala had suffered suspension damage after hitting a rock on only the second stage of the event, while Neuville and Qatar M-Sport's Mads Ostberg both led the rally during the early stages and were vying with Ogier through Friday until Neuville suffered a puncture after a hard landing in Mokkipera, and then Ostberg suffered a broken wheel rim through Lankamaa. That effectively handed control to Ogier for the remainder of the event, and Ostberg finally lost the battle for second place to Neuville when he lost time after running off in the Saturday afternoon final run through Ouninpohja.

Ouninpohja proved even more disastrous for Citroen's Kris Meeke, however, with the British driver crashing out of fifth position. With MINI John Cooper Works's Jarkko Nikara having already suffered a broken right-hand front damper in the previous stage, it meant that Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT's Dani Sordo received a late two-spot promotion in the standings putting him in fifth place just behind team mate Mikko Hirvonen, who had been enjoying a quiet and safe run in Finland. The third Qatar M-Sport driver Evgeny Novikov finished in sixth place just ahead of leading WRC2 driver Jari Ketomaa in the Ford Fiesta R5.

After the drama of Ouninpohja, only the 7.49km Painaa power stage had remained and that saw Neuville claim the honours with a time of 3:46.6s, three tenths ahead of Ogier and with Latvala taking third spot half a second further back. The Finn still finished well outside the top ten after restarting on Friday under Rally 2 following his day 1 mishap.

In the championship stakes, the result puts Ogier on 181 points, almost double the tally of his team mate Latvala who is in second with 91 points level with Neuville the pair just ahead of Hirvonen (73) and Sordo (69).

See full Rally Finland race report.

Rally Finland: Standings after SS23

Top ten overall standings

1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 2hrs 43m 10.4s M
2. Thierry Neuville Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 36.6s M
3. Mads Ostberg Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 57.6s M
4. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +01m 21.6s M
5. Dani Sordo Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +06m 08.5s M
6. Evgeny Novikov Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +08m 39.7s M
7. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta R5 +11m 19.2s WRC2
8. PG Andersson Ford Fiesta RS WRC +11m 41.5s
9. Robert Kubica Citroen DS3 RRC +12m 48.1s WRC2
10. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +13m 42.s M

Selected others

17. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +21m 37.7s M

Top three WRC2 standings

1. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta R5 2hrs 54m 29.6s WRC2
2. Robert Kubica Citroen DS3 RRC +01m 28.9s WRC2
3. Hayden Paddon Skoda Fabia S2000 +02m 53.9s WRC2

Top three WRC3 standings

1. Keith Cronin Citroen DS3 R3T 3hrs 06m 35.4s WRC3
2. Sebastien Chardonnet Citroen DS3 R3T +01m 14.5s WRC3
3. Jussi Vainionpaa Citroen DS3 R3T +01m 28.6s WRC3

Top three JWRC standings

1. Andreas Amberg Ford Fiesta R2 2hrs 34m 51.9s JWRC
2. Sander Parn Ford Fiesta R2 +02m 24.6s JWRC
3. Pontus Tidemand Ford Fiesta R2 +02m 52.5s JWRC

Notable retirements:

Alistair Fisher Citroen DS3 R3T mechanical WRC3 after SS8 Elfyn Evans Ford Fiesta R5 mechanical WRC2 after SS10 Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC engine M after SS12 Jarkko Nikara MINI John Cooper Works WRC mechanical after SS21 Kris Meeke Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC accident during SS22

all times unofficial


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