Monday | 29 Sep 2014

Rally rewind: France 2013

A title decided, some awful weather, shrewd tyre choices and a less than fitting WRC swan song. Before this week’s Rallye de France - Alsace gets underway, here’s a reminder of what happened there last year.

Thursday/Friday: Titles won and tyres gambled
Last year’s rally started with Sebastien Ogier securing his maiden WRC drivers’ title on Thursday’s opening Power Stage, prompting the sort of celebrations usually reserved for the finish podium.

The title settled, attentions turned to the grey skies above Friday’s restart, and the question of which tyres to pick for dry roads that were forecast to get wet at some point. In the end, Ford Fiesta RS driver Thierry Neuville got the gamble just about right. The Belgian ended the day a surprise leader, having chosen a mix of hard and soft compound tyres for a damp morning loop, when most of his rivals had fitted hards, and all hards for a dry afternoon when his rivals, expecting rain, were on softs.

Dani Sordo was second, with Sebastien Loeb, on his final WRC rally, third. A jaded Ogier meanwhile was down in fifth, saying the previous night’s celebrations had made it hard for him to wake up.

Neuville lost his 13.1sec rally lead with a puncture on Saturday

Saturday: All change – except the weather
Jari-Matti Latvala emerged from a hectic second day of competition with a lead of four-tenths of a second, leading a pack of four drivers all covered by just five seconds. Absent from this scrap was overnight leader Thierry Neuville who, when leading by 13.1sec, slid wide and punctured his rear left tyre in the afternoon’s opening stage.

That left Sordo in front, but an increasingly confident Latvala gradually reeled in the Citroen DS3 after a day characterised by more constantly changing conditions including fog, rain, mud and temporarily drier roads in the afternoon. Sordo ended the day second, just 1.1sec clear of a now wide awake Sebastien Ogier - who won five of the day’s seven tests in his Polo R - with Sebastien Loeb still chasing victory in his final rally a further 3.5sec adrift.

Loeb's world turned upside down on Sunday morning

Sunday: Ogier makes his move
Ogier began the final leg as one of four drivers chasing victory, but he stamped his authority with a dominant win in a rain-soaked opening stage to build an advantage he managed through to the finish. The win bookended a perfect weekend after clinching the drivers' title three days earlier. He won by 12.2sec from Sordo, who was 7.3sec ahead of Ogier’s team-mate Latvala in third. Neuville recovered to finish fourth, almost a minute behind Latvala.

There was no fairy tale ending to Sebastien Loeb’s WRC career. The Frenchman started Sunday 5.0sec from the top and hopeful of celebrating a 79th victory at the final stage in his home town of Haguenau. However, he rolled his Citroen DS3 into retirement 1km into the opening test.

More News