“It's been challenging. We're very pleased with the weekend though especially after our engine problems. The engine has been getting slower and slower but we made it in the end,” Ostberg stated.
Hirvonen in contrast had a tough weekend, although he did find his stride more on the final day and finished well by setting the top time in the Power Stage and taking the maximum three bonus points.
“I was really struggling for pace early in the rally,” admitted the Citroen
man, who had been hoping to challenge for the win this weekend [see our exclusive pre-event interview with him - HERE
]. "But it is nice to finish like this. Today I felt more confident, although it is not the result I came for.”
Evgeny Novikov was next up for the M-Sport Ford WRT, albeit more than 2 minutes off Hirvonen. He felt it was a 'good result', however, and was happy to be at the end after he went off the road in SS14 – the first test this morning - and lost around 30 seconds.
Thierry Neville was seventh on his first outing in Wales and despite running first on the road on day one, he was very consistent: “It was good but it was a bit strange to drive slowly throughout, although it was important for the confidence not to make a mistake,” said the Belgian.
Britain's Matthew Wilson
returned to the WRC and was eighth ahead of Martin Prokop and Nasser Al-Attiyah, the latter gaining two places in the final stage to move up into the final points' paying position.
“This is my first time in the car since Monte Carlo. I absolutely loved and enjoyed every minute,” Wilson remarked. “The result may not be as good as last year but in terms of performance, it's a massive improvement and step forwards. I've enjoyed every single minute.”
“It was very tough after Germany when I felt that I could do nothing right with the car,” Prokop added, “but we were in good shape here. I look forward to returning next year now. This result was very important for me.”
Of the rest, Chris Atkinson
was a disappointing eleventh on his first outing on gravel with the WRC MINI Team Portugal squad. The Aussie looked like he might have got a point near the end, but broken rear suspension in the final test let him down. After Atkinson, Sebastien Ogier
took P12 in his VW Motorsport-run Skoda Fabia S2000, followed by SWRC winner Craig Breen and SWRC runner up, Tom Cave.
Breen took the SWRC honours in the end by over 2.5 minutes, with Yazeed Al-Rajhi third in the class. It was an emotional result for Breen, who won the Academy class title here twelve months ago with his former co-driver, Gareth Roberts. Roberts was of course killed earlier this year in an IRC event: “Last year we did the job and this year I've done the job and I wish that Gareth was here with me. I'm so glad I've done it, I know he's here,” said a tearful Breen after the final stage.