Thierry Neuville was next up and completed the podium, running in third place from SS4 onwards, and finishing 24.1 seconds off P2: “For second time I am very happy this year,” said the Qatar World Rally Team driver. “We did our job following a good strategy. Today we didn't push but the car was competitive and everything went okay. I prefer tarmac events but this rally was very nice.”
Further back, Volkwagen 'third' driver Andreas Mikkelsen enjoyed a good final day scrap with Nasser Al-Attiyah, re-taking fourth place in SS12 and eventually finishing 17.5 seconds ahead of the Qatari.
“I would like to say many thanks to the mechanics. This is my best ever [WRC] result and I'm really excited,” Mikkelsen stated. “I feel great in the team. I'm improving all the time and can't wait to see what we can do in Sardinia.”
“It's a good feeling to be in the top five for the third [WRC] rally [in a row],” added Al-Attiyah. “If we go like this in the future, we are hoping for a podium. The team worked very well.”
Behind, Ostberg recovered from his dramas in the very first test and took sixth, ahead of Martin Prokop and Mikko Hirvonen: “I am very happy to be at the end,” said Ostberg, “but everything that possibly could go wrong went wrong [on this event]. Today it was better - and that is positive. We have the speed to fight at the top and it was promising today. I am quite happy with the speed.”
Hirvonen was similarly disappointed: “What a weekend! I am not happy with the result. I am only happy that all this is over. We had lots of bad luck. I will try to concentrate on the next event.”
Novikov and Ogier rounded out the top ten. Ogier had been down in 23rd after having to retire on the opening day. However he re-started under the Rally 2 rules on Saturday and battled his way back to tenth. He also took the Power Stage win, to clinch the maximum three bonus points.
“We expected better this weekend,” Ogier admitted. “We had bad luck, but we did our best. We were first on the road and adapted the set up because it was very slippery.”
In WRC2, Robert Kubica led from start to finish in his Citroen
DS3 RRC, winning nine of the first ten stages, and eventually taking the class victory by over a minute. Yuriy Protasov was second, with Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari third.
As for the JWRC, Jose Suarez took maximum points, 1 minute 4.2 seconds up on Pontus Tidemand. Sander Parn was third.
Abu Dhabi Citroen
Total WRT driver Khalid Al-Qassimi was the sole 'works' retirement, going out on Saturday, when he went off the road in SS8.
The WRC now heads to Sardinia in a few weeks time, with Rally d'Italia Sardgena running from June 20-23.