Sebastien Ogier has been a dominant and unstoppable force with the Volkswagen team in recent years and today he captured his fourth consecutive World Rally Championship with victory on the mixed surface Rally Catalunya. The victory, Ogier’s 37th in his illustrious career brings him into the company of rallying icons Tommi Makinen, Juha Kankkunen and Sebastien Loeb as the only men to capture four WRC titles.
This rally could have so nearly got away from him thanks to a sterling effort from local driver Dani Sordo, who drove arguably his best rally for a long time. Taking the lead on the sodden gravel and tarmac roads that made up the first day of action, Sordo tried his hardest to maintain his cushion on the drying roads. But Ogier was not to be denied and he edged ahead of the Spaniard on the penultimate stage of day two before pulling away, eventually finishing with an advantage of fifteen seconds. Hyundai in general had a great rally, with all four cars finishing in the top 7. Thierry Neuville, Hayden Paddon and Kevin Abbring all had solid drives to highlight the i20 as being the closest challenger to the Polo.
It wasn’t all good news for the Volkswagen team; Jari-Matti Latvala’s frustrating season continued when suspension damage forced him to retire from the opening day but salvaged three WRC points from winning the Power Stage. Andreas Mikkelsen didn’t even make the end when he rolled out of a podium place after hitting a barrier. Kris Meeke was another high profile non-finisher when his engine gave up on the final day after a non-terminal roll on the opening day left him down the order.
In the leading support category WRC-2, the new Skoda Fabia R5 continues to dominate the timesheets and it was a one-two for the Czech make here. Eighth overall and class winner was Jan Kopecky, who is no stranger to the top tier of rallying. He finished just fifteen seconds ahead of Swede Pontus Tidemand, who many consider to be one for the future. Completing the podium was 19 year old Frenchman Pierre-Louis Loubet, his first in this category. WRC-3 victory was claimed by Italian Fabio Andolfi in a Peugeot 208 whilst in the Drive DMACK Cup, where competitors drive identical Ford Fiesta R2 cars, Brit Jon Armstrong beat countryman Gus Greensmith by just under a minute.
Results – RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada 2016
|1||S. Ogier||J. Ingrassia||Volkswagen Polo R WRC||3:13:03.6|
|2||D. Sordo||M. Marti||Hyundai i20 WRC ‘16||+15.6|
|3||T. Neuville||N. Gilsoul||Hyundai i20 WRC ‘16||+1:15.0|
|4||H. Paddon||J. Kennard||Hyundai i20 WRC ‘16||+1:27.8|
|5||M. Ostberg||O. Floene||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||+3:24.4|
|6||O. Tanak||R. Molder||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||+5:24.9|
|7||K. Abbring||S. Marshall||Hyundai i20 WRC||+7:31.3|
|8||J. Kopecky||P. Dresler||Skoda Fabia R5||+9:05.1|
|9||P. Tidemand||J. Andersson||Skoda Fabia R5||+9:20.4|
|10||C. Breen||S. Martin||Citroen DS3 WRC||+9:57.1|
The penultimate round of the 2016 World Rally Championship season starts in just a couple of weeks. It is one of the most famous rallies on the calendar: Rally Great Britain. Featuring changeable weather and action from every angle, this is one rally not to be missed.