Sébastien Ogier (Ford/Michelin) notched up his fifth Wales Rally GB to become the most successful driver in the event’s history. The result has promoted him to second place in the provisional championship standings, seven and 14 points clear respectively of Thierry Neuville (5th, Hyundai/Michelin) and Ott Tänak (Toyota/Michelin) who didn’t have the happiest of weekends. Skoda/Michelin secured a one-two finish in WRC2.
A drama-filled second day in Wales not only transformed the rally’s leaderboard but also shook up the provisional Drivers’ standings.
In the wake of consecutive wins in Finland, Germany and Turkey, Tänak soon pulled out a handsome lead to emerge almost a minute clear of his closest chaser by the end of Day 1, but he was ultimately side-lined by a radiator problem on Saturday’s Sweet Lamb 2.
The earlier first attempt at the same stage saw championship pacesetter Neuville squander almost a minute when his Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC slipped into a ditch.
These incidents left four drivers in contention for the weekend’s win, namely five-time world champion Ogier, Toyota/Michelin’s Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi, and Craig Breen (Citroën/Michelin).
This quartet was covered by less than 15 seconds going into the short final leg on Sunday (55km) when Latvala appeared briefly in front. However, his slender cushion of just two-tenths of a second was insufficient to stay ahead of Ogier who posted three consecutive fastest times to beat the Finn by a margin of 10.6s at the flag. Lappi rounded out the all-Michelin podium.
The British fixture lived up every bit to its reputation by delivering its traditional challenging cocktail of slippery mud, rain and occasional patches of fog.
Michelin’s WRC runners were able to choose between the new soft-compound LTX Force S6 and the harder M6 (medium) which the crews chose as a function of the conditions of the moment and the characteristics of their respective cars. Ogier favoured a mix of M6s and S6s, but the majority of his rivals opted for the S6.