Ogier pulls ahead, begins final day with stage hat-trick
6 October 2013
New World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier surged into the lead this morning on Rallye de France, despite the very tricky wet and muddy conditions, which claimed none other than WRC legend Sebastien Loeb.
Ogier began the final day in third, just 1.5 seconds off his Volkswagen team-mate and overnight leader, Jari-Matti Latvala. However, the 29-year-old soon laid down the marker, and after fighting his way back into contention on Saturday, seized the lead in the very first test, the 14.60 km Vignoble de Cleebourg 1 stage.
Ogier then set the pace again in SS16 and SS17 to complete the first-run through the stages with a 13.7 second cushion. Drivers now face all three tests again, without service, prior to the finish.
“A perfect morning,” Ogier told the official WRC site. “But it's going to be tough and muddy this afternoon, especially in the first stage.”
Dani Sordo meanwhile is currently Ogier's biggest threat and Citroen's only hope for victory after Loeb's exit in SS15. Loeb rolled his car and it end up on its roof. Loeb and co-driver, Daniel Elena both escaped unharmed. However, it was a rather inauspicious end to his 'goodbye' WRC event.
Latvala completes the provisional podium and is only just 3.4 seconds off Sordo, having upped his pace again in SS16 and SS17.
Behind, Thierry Neuville lies a lonely fourth, a minute off the battle for P2 and over 90 seconds up on team-mate, Evgeny Novikov in fifth.
Mads Ostberg is next up and sixth, having moved ahead of Mikko Hirvonen, when the Finn went off the road and into the vines in SS15, losing around 10-15 seconds. Andreas Mikkelsen had problems in that first test of the day too and went off into a field, but he was also able to continue and holds P8.
Robert Kubica and Romain Dumas complete the top ten, the former still well on course for another WRC2 victory, while Quentin Gilbert still heads the WRC3 runners.
In addition to Loeb, the first loop also saw Martin Prokop go out. The Czech driver had been tenth, but hit a kerb in SS17 and broke the front suspension.
The event now concludes, as mentioned, with a repeat run through this morning's tests. SS18, Vignoble de Cleebourg 2, is due to start at 12.45 hours local time [11.45 hours UK time].
Rallye de France-Alsace: Overall standings after Stage 17 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 2h 35m 58.3s M
2. Dani Sordo Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00m 13.7s M
3. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 17.1s M
4. Thierry Neuville Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01m 21.2s M
5. Evgeny Novikov Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 58.8s M
6. Mads Ostberg Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03m 19.4s M
7. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +03m 24.9s M
8. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +04m 00.4s M
9. Robert Kubica Citroen DS3 RRC +08m 58.0s WRC2
10. Romain Dumas Ford Fiesta RS WRC +10m 50.0s
11. Elfyn Evans Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta R5 +12m 47.2s WRC2
12. Lionel Baud Ford Fiesta RS WRC +16m 12.0s
13. Quentin Gilbert Citroen DS3 R3T +18m 00.3s WRC3
14. Sebastien Chardonnet Citroen DS3 R3T +18m 37.8s WRC3
Rallye de France-Alsace: Power Stage / SS1 (Top 3):
1. Dani Sordo Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 03m 20.8s M
2. Thierry Neuville Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 00.7s M
3. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 00.8s M
NOTE: Top three finishers in Power Stage are awarded bonus points. 1st = 3 points; 2nd = 2 points; 3rd = 1 point
WRC2 standings after Stage 17 (Top 3):
1. Robert Kubica Citroen DS3 RRC 2h 44m 56.3s WRC2
2. Elfyn Evans Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta R5 +03m 49.2s WRC2
3. Rashid Al-Ketbi Ford Fiesta R5 +15m 21.5s WRC2
WRC3 standings after Stage 17 (Top 3):
1. Quentin Gilbert Citroen DS3 R3T 2h 53m 58.6s WRC3
2. Sebastien Chardonnet Citroen DS3 R3T +00m 37.5s WRC3
3. Keith Cronin Citroen DS3 R3T +02m 08.4s WRC3
JWRC standings after Stage 14#
1. Pontus Tidemand Ford Fiesta R2 2h 41m 37.4s JWRC
2. Hugo Arellano Ford Fiesta R2 +00m 42.3s JWRC
3. Yeray Lemes Ford Fiesta R2 +01m 10.6s JWRC
4. Marius Aasen Ford Fiesta R2 +01m 15.8s JWRC
5. Martin Koci Ford Fiesta R2 +01m 54.2s JWRC
6. Michael Burri Ford Fiesta R2 +02m 31.4s JWRC
7. Murat Bostanci Ford Fiesta R2 +04m 06.3s JWRC
8. Sander Parn Ford Fiesta R2 +04m 38.3s JWRC
9. Niko Nieminen Ford Fiesta R2 +06m 39.2s JWRC
SS2. Tomas Kostka Citroen DS3 WRC Mechanical
SS15. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC Rolled M
SS17. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC Accident M
*denotes re-started under the Rally 2 regulations;
M denotes Manufacturer entry;
# JWRC event concluded after Saturday's stages;
all times unofficial