In the second part of our summary, we look back at Dayinsure Wales Rally GB and reflect on the drivers managed in the slippery and slimy Welsh forests.
Sébastien Ogier (Volkswagen Polo R) Result: 1st
After going six months without a win, the four-time world champion has now secured four on the bounce. Amazingly Ogier has not been headed for a single kilometre in Britain since the start of the 2013 event. This one wasn’t quite as easy as it seemed, as Ott Tänak kept the pressure on and it was only in the final three stages that the Frenchman could relax a touch. Will this be his final win in a Polo R WRC or can he sign off in style in Australia?
Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20) Result: 3rd
First, fourth, fourth, third, second, third and third – that’s the Belgian’s record over the last seven rounds and that’s the consistency that seems set to earn him the championship runners-up position later this month in Australia. He overcame a confidence-lacking opening stage, in which he dropped more than 20sec to Ogier, to grab third in Friday’s final test, from where he was never removed. In contrast to 12 months ago, he is doing little wrong right now.
Mads Østberg (Ford Fiesta RS) Result: 8th
By far the most interesting story from Østberg was that of co-driver Ola Fløene apparently being bitten by a snake. Snake, Wales, late October…..yeah, we know, but something certainly sank its teeth into Ola’s hand and Mads was sure it was a snake. On the driving side, Østberg hoped for better. On roads he likes and in conditions that should have suited him, almost five minutes off the pace was an indication of his current struggles.
Andreas Mikkelsen (Volkswagen Polo R) Result: 12th
The plan to take the WRC’s runners-up fight to big buddy Neuville came to an abrupt end on Friday when a broken driveshaft left his Polo R stuck with two-wheel drive. With no realistic chance of getting back in the points, the Norwegian focused on the live TV Power Stage and grabbed two bonus points. Heading to Australia 14 points adrift of Neuville means second in the series is a big ask.
Kris Meeke (Citroën DS 3) Result: 5th
A low start position, a resultant lack of grip and a car not suited to the slippery conditions left Meeke somewhat subdued throughout the rally. It was, though, surprising to hear him write off the weekend at the stop line of Friday’s opening Myherin stage. Two slow punctures left him with no spares for a large chunk of Saturday and it wasn’t the way he wanted to bid farewell to the DS 3.
Stéphane Lefebvre (Citroën DS 3) Result: 9th
Just seeing the Frenchman back behind the wheel of a rally car was a refreshing sight given the sheer violence of his Germany crash a couple of months ago. Lefebvre progressively improved his DS 3’s set-up to the point where he was reasonably happy with it for the final day. The time had already slithered away by then though, but this was as much a confidence-building exercise as anything else.
Lorenzo Bertelli (Ford Fiesta RS) Result: 15th
It wasn’t one of the Italian’s best weekends. At odds with the set-up on his Fiesta RS on Friday, a rear driveshaft problem added to his woes and he was already more than seven minutes down when he returned to Deeside. Saturday and Sunday delivered more as the Italian gained in confidence and the conditions improved.