WRC Wales Rally GB: Ogier left sitting pretty after Latvala off

Sebastien Ogier concludes SS12 of Wales Rally GB with a 1 minute 10.5 second lead over Mikko Hirvonen; Mads Ostberg lies third, 0.5 seconds back and only 1.4 seconds up on Kris Meeke; Jari-Matti Latvala has slipped to tenth after losing over 3 minutes with an off in SS9...
Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier leads Wales Rally GB by over a minute following Saturday morning's four 'proper' stages, well out front after team-mate and nearest rival Jari-Matti Latvala made a mistake in the opening test of the day.

Ogier and Latvala enjoyed a good scrap on Friday, with the former finishing the leg with a 6.6 second advantage.

However, Latvala's bid to cut that gap today ended near the finish of SS9, the 8.25 km Clocaenog East 1 test when he went off and got stuck in a ditch. The Finn lost over 3 minutes as a result and dropped down to tenth.

Ogier could then ease off and now just has to make it to the finish to claim his eighth win of the season and his second in succession in GB, although given how tricky the conditions are nothing is guaranteed.

“It is not the easiest rally to control, but it is more relaxed for us at the moment,” Ogier said after SS12.

“The car is already quite easy and nice to drive, but we will have to think about it because yesterday the conditions were very different in the afternoon compared to the morning,” he added.

Behind, M-Sport's Mikko Hirvonen is second in the midst of an extremely close three-way fight for the runners-up spot.

Hirvonen finished SS12 just 0.5 seconds up on Mads Ostberg, with Kris Meeke fourth only 1.4 seconds further back.

“It has been a really good fight,” said Hirvonen. “We have not been so smooth and have made some small mistakes here and there but we are still holding second place so we will keep fighting for it. We are already very soft on the set-up so I don't think we'll be able to find much more traction [this afternoon].”

“That was quite good, I enjoyed it!” Meeke added after Dyfnant 1. “The crowd is just incredible and you get that extra buzz from passing them, particularly on 'Irish Corner'. Mads is pushing very hard but we have to remember the Manufacturers'. It is important to bring both cars home.”

Hyundai's Thierry Neuville rounds out the top five, slipping further adrift of the fight ahead when he missed three junctions in SS10 and was only 12th quickest, 12.7 seconds off the pace.

“It has been quite good. I made some mistakes earlier [in SS10] where we lost ten seconds, but we have a good rhythm. This stage [SS12] was quite tricky and we need to change the pace notes slightly for the second run as it is going to be more slippery later on.”

Elfyn Evans is next up, with fellow Ford Fiesta RS WRC men Ott Tanak, Henning Solberg and Martin Prokop in positions 7 through to 9.

Of the rest, after Latvala in P10, Hayden Paddon and Robert Kubica are 11th and 12th.

“It is making a big difference [not having the rear spoiler after our off in SS9], the car is very nervous to drive,” Latvala noted.

“I think we also have a broken front right damper but somehow we are still here! We will fix it in service and try to set some good times later on.”

In WRC2, Jari Ketomaa continues to lead, now almost a minute up on Bernardo Sousa. Lorenzo Bertelli is third followed by Matt Wilson and Karl Kruuda.

Andreas Mikkelsen and Juho Hanninen both rejoined this morning under Rally 2, with the former showing great pace and going quickest in all four tests, although he remains well down after his off yesterday in SS2.

Wales Rally GB now continues with the short 2.06 km Chirk Castle super special, before competitors head into the 30 minute mid-day service in Deeside.

Wales Rally GB: Overall standings after Stage 12 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 1hr 58m 45.0s M
2. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01m 10.5s M
3. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +01m 11.0s M
4. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +01m 12.4s M
5. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +01m 35.2s M
6. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01m 49.7s M
7. Ott Tanak Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 32.7s
8. Henning Solberg Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 47.2s
9. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03m 18.1s M
10. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +03m 34.1s M


11. Hayden Paddon Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +03m 56.9s M
12. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +04m 24.0s M

WRC2 standings after Stage 12 (Top 3):

1. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta R5 2hrs 06m 21.5s WRC2
2. Bernardo Sousa Ford Fiesta RRC +00m 55.2s WRC2
3. Lorenzo Bertelli Ford Fiesta R5 +01m 17.2s WRC2

Notable retirements:

SS2. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC Hit a bank M*
SS3. Juho Hanninen Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC Went off M*

M denotes Manufacturer entry
* denotes re-started under Rally 2 on Saturday

all times unofficial
by Rob Wilkins

Related Pictures

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Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC

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