Volkswagen ace Sebastien Ogier
finished his title winning season in style by taking his ninth victory of the year today on Wales Rally GB.
Ogier, who had already secured the 2013 WRC Drivers' title in France last month, dominated the final round in the 2013 World Rally Championship, leading from start-to-finish in his Polo R WRC car. He began by setting the pace in qualifying, and after opting to run second in the order, he was then quickest through all three of the night stages on Thursday to establish an early 3.2 second lead.
The Frenchman then increased that cushion to 13.5 seconds on Friday morning, before taking a clean sweep of stage wins on the repeat loop to cement his place at the top of the times.
Ogier went into day three with a 20.1 second advantage over team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala
and while it ebbed and flowed - with Ogier initially pulling further ahead and then Latvala putting him under a pressure with three stages win in a row in SS12, SS13 and SS14 - it finished with the two split by pretty much the same margin.
The final day then went off without a hitch, with Ogier taking two more stage wins – and taking his tally to eight – and eventually coming home 21.8 seconds up on Latvala.
“It is really amazing. I am so happy,” said Ogier at the finish of SS22, the 4.58 km Great Orme test. “A big thanks to the team. The car has been perfect this weekend. We haven't been so good here in the past, but we had a great battle with my team-mate which was special. It is another great victory for us. It's been a perfect season. It will be a hard challenge to keep the title next year."
Latvala meanwhile had to be content with the runners-up spot and while he could match Ogier at times, he failed to do it consistently enough to challenge for the win.
"Of course I'm disappointed I couldn't catch Ogier," said Latvala. "I was hungry for the third victory here, but it didn't work out this year. I really need to concentrate on keeping the rhythm, because the speed is definitely there. I've made too many mistakes here and I haven't had the rhythm all weekend. I need to work on that for next year."
Thierry Neuville was next up and took the final spot on the podium, albeit more than a minute further back in his Qatar World Rally Team-run Fiesta RS WRC. Neuville ran second early on, but then dropped further and further back. Third place, however, was still enough to ensure the Belgian finished in second place in the Drivers' Championship, 14 points ahead of Latvala.