After three days of action on the mud and gravel in Wales, The Checkered Flag looks back at the 2016 Dayinsure Wales Rally GB.
The penultimate round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship saw Volkswagen’s Sébastien Ogier take his fourth win in four years in Flintshire.
WRC – Ogier gives a masterclass on the Welsh mud
Sébastien Ogier showed why he is the four-time World Rally Champion by taking another win on the muddy stages in Wales.
Ogier, who led from the front from the opening day, fended off the challenge from DMACK’s Ott Tänak throughout the three days to take his first gravel rally win of the 2016 WRC season.
Results on the gravel rallies this season has not gone the Frenchman’s way, but Ogier put that aside to take yet another win in Wales.
With Ogier’s win in Wales, this means that Volkswagen take taken their fourth Manufacturer’s Championship in a row. A remarkable result for the Hannover-based team, who returned to the World Rally Championship in 2013.
Tänak equals his best-ever WRC result in second
Ott Tänak equalled his best-ever WRC result by finishing second at the 2016 Dayinsure Wales Rally GB.
The Estonian, who came so close to winning Rally Poland in late June – early July, showed why he is capable of competing with Ogier on the mud and gravel stages that Wales had to offer.
Throughout the three days, Tänak was on the pace in the DMACK Ford Fiesta RS WRC. At one point, he was nearly eight seconds behind Ogier on the opening day.
A late charge on Sunday, winning the last six stages, including the Power Stage was not enough for Tänak to overtake the rally-winner Ogier.
Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville claimed his fourth consecutive podium finish in third to extend his runner-up chances in the Drivers’ Standings to Andreas Mikkelsen to 14 points.
His fellow Hyundai team-mate Hayden Paddon finished +19.5 seconds behind the Belgian in fourth.
Kris Meeke had an indifferent Wales Rally GB for Citroën in fifth, being the lead British WRC driver throughout the three days. His Irish team-mate Craig Breen went off on the opening day on SS5, retiring from the rally.
Dani Sordo finished in the third and final Hyundai in sixth, while Jari-Matti Latvala fought through transmission problems on the opening day in Flintshire to claim seventh.
Mads Østberg claimed eighth for M-Sport, whilst the returning Stéphane Lefebvre and Eric Camilli finished the top ten runners in Deeside.
WRC2 – Lappi back in the title hunt with third straight WRC2 win in Wales
Esapekka Lappi claimed his third straight win at Wales Rally GB to put himself in contention for the 2016 WRC2 Championship.
Similar to Ogier, Lappi led the majority of the rally from start to finish to record a comfortable win in North Wales.
Therefore, if the Finn wins or finishes second, ahead of fellow championship rivals Elfyn Evans and his fellow Finnish compatriot Teemu Suninen, Lappi becomes the 2016 WRC2 Champion.
Sweden’s Pontus Tidemand finished +29.1 seconds behind the rally-winner Lappi in second, whilst Suninen is now level on points with the Welshman Evans coming into the final rally of the season in Australia by finishing third.
Jan Kopecký is fourth, while Marius Aasen finished ahead of his fellow Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby in fifth.
Peru’s Nicolás Fuchs had a solid Wales Rally GB in seventh, whereas Frigyes Turán, David Bogie and Khalid Mohammad Al-Suwaidi complete the top ten for the WRC2 runners at Wales Rally GB.
WRC3 and Junior WRC: Koči claims maiden win, Tempestini crowned 2016 WRC3 Champion
What a year it has been for Simone Tempestini, claiming the Junior WRC Championship in Spain and now the 2016 WRC3 Championship in Deeside.
Whilst Tempestini was celebrating winning yet another WRC Championship, Slovakia’s Martin Koči claimed his maiden WRC3 and Junior WRC win at Wales Rally GB.
Yet again, like Ogier and Lappi’s wins, Koči led from the front and held the rally lead throughout the three days to record a comprehensive win over the second-placed Italian of over two minutes.
Yohan Rossel claimed the final podium spot in third, whilst his fellow Frenchman Vincent Dubert completed the WRC3 and Junior WRC runners in fourth.
British drivers round-up: Heartbreak for Pryce as home boy retires two stages from finish
As all eyes were on Kris Meeke and the 15-year wait for a British WRC winner in Wales, the hopes of a nation lied on 2016 Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy-winner Osian Pryce, who retired from his home rally with just two stages to go.
Machynlleth-based Pryce, who was competing in the WRC2 category in the M-Sport-prepared Ford Fiesta R5, was in the top six for the majority of the three days running in North Wales.
The Welshman hit trouble as a water leak in his radiator meant that he had no choice but to end a solid Wales Rally GB campaign for Pryce.
MSA British Rally Championship competitor David Bogie finished in the WRC2 top ten in North Wales in ninth, a great result for the Scot.
Rhys Yates finished eleventh, ahead of his fellow Brit Gus Greensmith in twelfth place.
Cheshire-based Greensmith, who retired from the second day in Deeside due to his co-driver Katrin Becker falling ill, re-entered the rally on the final day to claim twelfth.
TV analyst and keen rally driver Tony Jardine finished with Winter Olympic Gold Medallist Amy Williams in thirty-ninth place.
In only their second WRC start since last year’s Wales Rally GB, Jardine and Williams fought off car sickness and all sorts of problems throughout the three days as they finished outside the top 40.
FIA European Rally Championship driver Chris Ingram recovered from Thursday’s crash in Shakedown to finish in forty-eighth place.
Spencer Wilkinson completed the rest of the British WRC drivers who have finished in Deeside to claim forty-ninth place.
The 2016 FIA World Rally Championship concludes with the final round at the 2016 Kennards Hire Rally Australia on 18-20 November 2016.