Great Britain countdown:
We begin our build-up to Dayinsure Wales Rally GB [26 - 29 October] with a look at the 2016 encounter, when champion-elect Sébastien Ogier had his eyes on a fourth consecutive British victory. Here's how he got on...
Friday 27 October
Ogier mastered fog and mud to lead on Friday night by 37.3sec from Ott Tänak [below] despite his Volkswagen Polo R picking up a transmission problem in the final stage. Ogier suspected a broken driveshaft, the issue that had delayed team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen earlier in the day.
As road opener, Ogier enjoyed the best of the conditions, which worsened with every car and only DMACK Ford Fiesta driver Tänak offered a challenge. Thierry Neuville held third in a Hyundai i20, 31.7sec adrift of Tänak and generally unhappy with his car’s handling. The Belgian was 3.8sec ahead of team-mate Hayden Paddon who regretted changing the set-up of his i20 midway through the day.
Kris Meeke yielded two places in the final stage to hold fifth in a Citroën DS 3. He was two seconds behind Paddon but comfortably clear of Dani Sordo’s i20 and Mads Østberg’s Fiesta RS. Latvala, Stéphane Lefebvre and WRC 2 leader Esapekka Lappi completed the leaderboard. Mikkelsen's transmission troubles relegated him to 19th while Craig Breen was the only major retirement, crashing out of sixth in the afternoon.
Saturday 28 October
Ogier withstood a determined attack from Tänak to retain a comfortable 33.8sec lead on Saturday. Neuville remained third, a further minute adrift. Although conditions were better than Friday, fog and greasy dirt roads in mid-Wales ensured driving was far from simple.
Tänak won four of the first six stages to cut the Frenchman’s lead to 24.8sec. But Ogier regained a large chunk of time in the dank and muddy penultimate test at Aberhirnant. Neuville, chasing the runners-up position in the drivers’ championship, was relieved to escape unscathed after mounting a bank in the morning. He pulled away from team-mate Paddon, who could not get to grips with the conditions, to end 12.6sec clear.
Meeke held fifth, but was forced to drive cautiously through much of the leg after two early punctures forced him to fit both spare tyres. Sixth-placed Sordo hated the unpredictable conditions but was under no pressure from Østberg behind. Latvala closed to within 7.2sec of Østberg as he recovered from Friday's broken driveshaft.
Sunday 29 October
Ogier kept his cool to seal a fourth consecutive Wales Rally GB victory. He withstood final day pressure from Tänak to win the penultimate round of the season by 10.2sec and secure the manufacturers’ title for Volkswagen. He had already clinched a fourth consecutive drivers’ crown at the previous round in Spain.
Neuville finished third, a further 1min 25.2sec behind. The fog and mud of the first two days eased to leave better conditions on Sunday, which perfectly suited Tanak. The Estonian won all six stages to close in and seal a career-best matching result. Neuville overshot a hairpin but managed to hold off Paddon by 19.5sec.
Meeke finished a subdued fifth with Sordo completing the top six in another i20. Latvala recovered to pass Østberg for seventh. Lefebvre finished ninth on his return from injury with Eric Camilli completing the leaderboard.
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