Wednesday | 05 Nov 2014

Rally rewind: Wales Rally GB 2013

Here’s a recap of what happened in Wales 12 months ago. Star players include newly crowned champion Sébastien Ogier, who had never before finished the event inside the top-10, Thierry Neuville, on his final appearance for M-Sport, and Robert Kubica, making his championship debut in a World Rally Car.

Thursday 14 November
After a ceremonial start at Conwy Castle, crews fired off into the damp Welsh forests in darkness for a trio of stages. Ogier (above) emerged as early leader, chased by his VW team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala on stages one and two, before M-Sport's Neuville topped the final stage to split the pair and set up a three-way battle at the top of the standings.  The top three were separated by 5.2 seconds. Citroen’s Mikko Hirvonen was the best of the rest as both he and M-Sport pilot Mads Østberg leapfrogged Andreas Mikkelsen on SS2. Kubica meanwhile was an impressive seventh, completing his first leg in a full-blown WRC car without incident.

Kubica's World Rally Car debut came to an end in a ditch on SS4

Friday 15 November
Ogier stretched ahead throughout the day, the Frenchman in a league of his own during the fourth stage as he blasted through Hafren nearly ten seconds quicker than any other driver. Ogier extended his advantage over the chasing pack by winning all three afternoon stages – despite a determined challenge from Latvala, who ended the day his closest challenger, 20.1sec back. Neuville relinquished second to Latvala on SS6 and faded in the afternoon, remaining third but more than 40 seconds behind the dueling Volkswagens. Kubica's debut came to a premature and spectacular end when he lost control of his car and slid off the road on SS4, putting his Citroën on its roof. He wasn't the only Citroën star to face drama, however, as Hirvonen also rolled his DS3 at high speed during stage six. Dani Sordo was fastest at the 4.26km Sweet Lamb, but the Spaniard languished at the bottom of the top-ten after incurring a pre-event five-minute penalty for using one too many chassis in the season. The Qatar M-Sport Fords of Mads Østberg and Evgeny Novikov rounded off the day fourth and fifth.

Latvala was fastest on three of Saturday's stages

Saturday 16 November
Ogier and Latvala consolidated their places at the top of the order, while Mikkelsen took two stage wins to close in on Neuville. Ogier failed to win any of the day's seven stages, but the Frenchman's speed and consistency was enough to peg the gap back to Latvala – who was fastest on three stages -  to 20 seconds. A similar gap separated Neuville and Mikkelsen in the battle for third, with the latter having taken nearly 15 seconds out of his rival's advantage over the course of the day. Neuville was quickest on the final stage but admitted to being focused on securing the runner-up spot in the Championship. Kubica crashed out for the second time in as many days as he slid wide on a downhill right-hander before his DS3 toppled off the road and dropped into the trees below. Just a few minutes later Novikov ended his day after losing control of his Ford Fiesta RS on the same stage.

Sunday 17 November
Ogier rounded off a sensational season in style by claiming his first ever Wales Rally GB victory. The Frenchman was fastest on three of Sunday’s six stages to extend the gap over Latvala and finish 21.8sec ahead. Neuville held on to claim third, plus a bonus three points for winning the Power Stage, which was enough for him to secure runner-up spot in the championship. Mikkelsen spun on Sunday's opener and slipped to fifth. He fought hard to take fourth from Østberg but had to give up the fight when he spun again.

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