Ogier Wins as Hirvonen says Adieu

Heart-breaking news for British rally fans was that Kris Meeke lost his podium place late on in the Wales Rally GB whilst Sebastien Ogier clinched his eighth World Rally Championship victory of the season and Mikko Hirvonen said farewell to the World Rally Championship in fine style by clinching second place.

For the majority of this year's Wales Rally GB, Ogier was able to take it easy once his Volkswagen team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen and Jari-Matti Latvala had crashed. Mikkelsen had gone off on only the second stage of the event whilst running second to Ogier, while Latvala pushed his team-mate in an intense battle that pulled them a minute clear of the field until his accident on Saturday morning.

The battle for second then shifted between M-Sport Ford's Hirvonen - driving in his WRC swansong - and Citroen team-mates Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg. A penalty for checking in late while attending to an intercom issue, followed by a delaminated tyre dropped Ostberg away from the fight on Saturday, but Hirvonen and Meeke fought on just 1.6 seconds apart with three stages to go.

Meeke visited a ditch early on Sunday morning causing his Citroen DS3 WRC tyre damage and with only one spare and no service on Sunday, he knew he needed to ensure his best remaining tyres were on the car for the road section to the finish now that competitors are banned from driving with punctures on public roads. He finally ran out of grip on the penultimate stage and had to limp on thereafter, dropping from third to sixth in the process and this combined with Ostberg's first podium since Sardinia in June, ensured that Citroen narrowly beat M-Sport and Hyundai to second in the prestigious manufacturers' championship.

Hirvonen was pleased to round-off his career with the hard-fought runner-up finish, which also clinched his 'best non-VW' position in the standings that he had set his heart on. Thierry Neuville stayed just ahead of Welshman Elfyn Evans and they moved up to fourth and fifth at the end of the rally following Meeke's problems.

The Powerstage bonus points went to Latvala, who'd recovered to eighth, just behind Ott Tanak. Robert Kubica finished just outside the points in 11th after only the second crash-free rally of his 2014 season. Jari Ketomaa won WRC2, but it wasn't enough to stop Nasser Al-Attiyah clinching the class title. Welsh driver Tom Cave co-driven by Craig Parry, finished the rally fourth in the WRC2 category and 15th overall. Their distinctive Ford Fiesta R5 was supported by the Trefeddian Hotel and Morris Lubricants.

Closer to home, IRDC chairman Shaun Martin; co-driven in his #239 Subaru Impreza this year by Iestyn Williams, finished the challenging rally in 24th place out of 95 competitors in the popular National category of the event.

The reliable white Impreza chalked up its fifth finish on Wales Rally GB events, progress this year punctuated only by a broken exhaust sustained after a heavy landing on Hafren forest and some wheel bearing issues, both problems resolved by Shaun's hard-working service crew and he expressed himself happy with another solid result on the British round of the World rally Championship.


Pos Driver Team Car Gap

1 Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Volkswagen 3h03m08.2s
2 Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport Ltd Ford + 37.6s
3 Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen + 1m03.6s
4 Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai + 1m14.9s
5 Elfyn Evans M-Sport Ltd Ford + 1m24.3s
6 Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen + 2m03.0s
7 Ott Tanak M-Sport Ltd Ford + 2m29.7s
8 Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Volkswagen + 2m47.5s
9 Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford + 3m43.3s
10 Hayden Paddon Hyundai Motorsport N Hyundai + 3m48.5s

16th November, 2014