WALES, U.K. - M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have reignited their FIA World Rally Championship defense with victory at this weekend’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB.
Piloting their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC to the top step of the podium, the Frenchmen secured a momentous fifth victory on Welsh soil – making them the event’s most successful pairing in history.
Most importantly however, the result sees them climb back into second place in the driver and co-driver standings – now just seven points shy of the lead with two events and 60 points still up for grabs!
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“This victory really does mean a lot to the whole team. We knew that we could deliver a strong result this weekend and that all three of our crews had the ability to fight for the top positions.
“But on Friday evening it looked as though all hope of another win on home soil was gone – Sébastien had lost time with a transmission issue, Elfyn had been forced to retire with a misfire, and Teemu had sustained damage to the rollcage.
“It wasn’t looking great and I was thinking what a different 12 months can make! But you really can never discount Sébastien. He and Julien delivered a true champions’ drive and suddenly I was thinking what a different 24 hours can make!
“Locked in such an intense battle today, they showed what this victory means to them; and their performance through the last three stages was brilliant. It puts us back on track in the driver and co-driver standings and I’m as excited as every rally fan to see how it plays out over the last two events.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia delivered another champions’ performance today – securing a hard-fought and exciting victory that reignites their championship defence.
Going into the final day of competition, the reigning World Champions were locked in an intense battle with fellow Wales Rally GB winners, Jari Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila.
As the excitement got underway the Frenchmen held a 4.4 second advantage over their rivals. Then the battle intensified as two strong stages from Latvala put the Finn 3.6 seconds clear at the head of the field.
But Ogier wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass him by. Pushing hard, the World Champion delivered a sensational performance over the final three speed tests – three inspired fastest stage times securing the win by 10.6 seconds.
The victory is Ogier and Ingrassia’s fifth on Welsh soil and could prove pivotal in what is turning into one of the most thrilling championship battles for decades.
Sébastien Ogier (1st) said:
“It’s been a great weekend for us and one with a lot of different emotions. I’m very proud to have won this rally for the fifth time, especially because we know how challenging and tough it is to stay on the road and not make mistakes in these conditions.
“We had a very difficult start on Friday and thought the rally was almost over, but then we fought back with everything we had. We knew that the podium was still within our reach and when Ott [Tänak] had his problems it became a big fight for the win.
“Jari-Matti [Latvala] was determined to win himself and was very quick, which forced us to react. Luckily I was able to finish the rally with three perfect stages – especially SS22 which was as close to perfection as I can get and I’m glad I could make the difference there.
“It’s a great step in the right direction for the championship and puts us right back in the fight. The last two rallies will be exciting and the intensity is going to be higher than ever.
"I’m looking forward to Spain now, where we can perform well I think, followed by Australia where it will probably all be decided. I’m sure the fans will love a close fight and I’m excited for the end of the season.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt were in the fight for a second successive victory on home soil, but hopes of another Welsh win were dashed when their Ford Fiesta WRC developed a misfire on Friday afternoon. Forced to retire on the liaison to the second loop of stages, Evans was denied an opportunity to challenge for the top step of the podium – and Welsh hearts were broken.
Elfyn Evans (20th / Rally 2) said:
“It’s been a really disappointing rally for us as we knew we had the speed and performance to challenge for the victory this weekend. It’s one of those things and after retiring with the misfire on Friday we just had to focus on getting through without any issues.
“At some points I was surprised at the times as we really weren’t pushing at all, but there isn’t a lot we can take away from this weekend. That said, it was great to see all the spectators out on the stages and such a fantastic atmosphere at the finish in Llandudno!”