Ogier wins his first Rally Finland

Sebastien Ogier's seemingly unchallenged run to the 2013 WRC title continued at the weekend when the Frenchman claimed his first Rally Finland victory by a comfortable margin, while Thierry Neuville won an amazing battle for second.

Ogier took control of the rally on Friday afternoon, when he broke clear of M-Sport Ford team-mates Neuville and Mads Ostberg, and Citroen's Mikko Hirvonen, all had led at various junctures, the leading group often covered by just seconds.

But Ogier raised his game and by the start of the final morning he was nearly 40s clear. Hirvonen lost touch with the leaders when he caught the worst of a storm on the Himos stage, leaving Neuville and Ostberg to battle for second and the two young drivers gave it everything, swapping positions four times on Saturday morning alone, their battle not settled until the penultimate stage, when Ostberg slewed off the road and spun while avoiding a rock, giving Neuville some breathing space. Neuville then celebrated his second place with the fastest time on the power stage.

The eventual podium trio of Ogier, Neuville and Ostberg made this only the second ever Rally Finland not to feature a Finn on the podium. The Markko Martin, Petter Solberg and Richard Burns podium of 2003 being the only other occasion.

Hirvonen was top Finn in fourth, overshadowed in the Citroen camp by WRC returnee Kris Meeke, currently recruited for just one rally standing in for Khalid Al-Qassimi. Meeke was rapid from the outset and looked set for fifth, only to crash out with one stage to go. That incident and a late retirement for Jarkko Nikara, up to sixth in Prodrive's revived Mini, brought Dani Sordo into the top six but the works Citroen driver had a subdued rally, a long way off the pace and struggling for confidence.

Early pace setter Jari-Matti Latvala had his sights set on victory following encouraging recent results, only to damage his VW's suspension on only the second stage, wrecking his weekend and finally finishing in 17th position.

WRC2 had a home winner in the shape of Jari Ketomaa. The Finn dominated from the outset, while Robert Kubica impressed with a clear second place in class on his debut on this famous event.

Pos Driver Team/Car
1. Sebastien Ogier VW
2. Thierry Neuville M-Sport Ford
3. Mads Ostberg M-Sport Ford
4. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen
5. Dani Sordo Citroen
6. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford
7. Jari Ketomaa* Autotek Ford (WRC2)
8. PG Andersson AT Ford
9. Robert Kubica PH Citroen
10. Andreas Mikkelsen VW

6th August, 2013