Ogier completed the podium and he was miffed to see his chances of victory denied by misfortune in SS17: “It was all going pretty well until the last loop,” he lamented. “We were in a good position to push for victory until we punctured. I feel frustrated because it was a racing incident that ruined our chances.”
Mikko Hirvonen was next up and staged a remarkable recovery after he lost two minutes on Thursday in the opening test when he hit a tree. He charged back up from 36th to sixth on Friday, before making further progress today as he over hauled both Petter Solberg
and Mads Ostberg. In the end he was fastest in 13 of the 22 stages, including the Power Stage, which saw him bag the maximum 3 bonus points.
“I'm disappointed not to win,” said Mikko, “But my fightback was good and I had great speed all weekend, which makes it even more of a shame that I wasn't able to fight for victory. I have to thank the fans who gave me great support all rally. I love my home event and I enjoyed driving in front of them.”
Petter Solberg rounded out the top five, although it wasn't a weekend he will look back on very fondly as he was never on the pace and eventually finished more than a minute off the leaders: “It was hard. You are allowed to be disappointed sometimes,” he said. “Things just did not work out at all this weekend. I was unable to fight for the win. It is a big disappointment.”
Further back M-Sport Stobart
Ford trio Mads Ostberg, Henning Solberg
and Matt Wilson held positions 6 through to 8, although the latter two were a long way off P6 – more than 1.5 minutes adrift.
“I've been very happy with my speed this weekend. It's been a hard fight with both Mikko and Petter and I really needed to do more than my best to try and finish ahead of them today but unfortunately it wasn't enough,” Ostberg reflected. “We have been going absolutely flat out this afternoon and I have given it my all so I'm not at all disappointed to miss out on fifth place.
“It's great to be able to match the times of some of the 'top five' - everything has been working very well for us today so this has been a great confident boost. I'm just hoping that this weekend will have helped us find the extra help that we need for us to secure us more events.”
Of the rest F1 2007 world champion, Kimi Raikkonen and SWRC class winner, Juho Hanninen completed the points' scorers in ninth and tenth, the former continuing to get to grips with the WRC.
“These roads are as quick and as difficult as ever,” said Raikkonen. “But we still managed to set good times. I'd like to thank the many spectators who cheered us on during the weekend. We were able to maintain a good pace throughout the whole rally despite a few minor mistakes. It's encouraging for the rest of the season.”
In the support categories, as mentioned, Hanninen won the SWRC, while in the Production WRC and WRC Academy, Hayden Paddon and Egon Kaur took 'gold' respectively.