Reigning World Champion Sebastien Ogier coasted to his fourth win of the 2014 World Rally Championship to increase his lead in the title race.
This was Ogier’s second victory in a row in Sardinia, and it’s Volkswagen’s tenth straight victory in succession.
Things had been looking bleak for Ogier on Saturday. His team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala was 22 seconds ahead at the start of the day before the Finn encountered problems.
A suspected overheated engine caused by a sensor problem made Latvala slow down on the Monte Lermo stage. This was followed by a brake issue, which the Finn feared would cost him the lead.
However it was Latvala’s mistake on Saturday’s final stage that gifted the lead to his team-mate. The Finn hit a rock on special stage 13 and was forced to stop and change a wheel, costing him 2 minutes, and dropping him to third.
These problems meant Ogier could take it easy on the final day, not that he did. He finished third fastest in all three stages, and picked up a bonus point on the power stage.
“It is a great, great feeling,” said Ogier. “I had to push very. It was a difficult opening day. We managed to put pressure on Jari-Matti on Saturday and now we have won.”
Ogier now leads the championship by 33 points. “It is a good step for the championship – we will have to try and carry on like that now though because Jari-Matti is going well.”
Like Ogier, Citroen’s Mads Ostberg was able to make the most of Latvala’s problems. The Norwegian was able to hold on to a hard-fought second place and was delighted with his and the teams efforts.
“It has been a very good weekend,” said Ostberg. “I am very, very happy. We managed to do everything we wanted to do and it is fantastic to finish with second place on this very difficult event.”
Fellow countryman Andreas Mikkelsen spent the majority of the event in fourth place trying to chase down Ostberg, but suffered damper problems on Saturday so had to settle for fourth. He did however pick up bonus points after taking his first ever Powerstage win.
M-Sport’s Elfyn Evans rounded out the top five in his Fiesta RS WRC, but was helped along by the misfortune of his team-mate Robert Kubica.
On the penultimate stage on Saturday, Kubica ripped the front-right wheel off his Ford after hitting a rock. He was able to return under Rally 2, but could only manage to finish eighth behind Martin Prokop and Henning Solberg.
Hyundai ended up having a weekend to forget. They had been running first and second before Thierry Neuville suffered suspension problems which cost him 20 minutes and Juho Hanninen rolled i20, forcing him to retire. Thier new third driver Hayden Paddon also encounted various issues and finished twelfth.
Kris Meeke and Mikko Hirvonen also had a troublesome weekend. Meeke came home eighteenth due to an electrical issue stopped him on day one. Hirvonen retired en route to SS4 on Friday when his M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC caught fire and burnt down.
The next WRC event will be Rally Poland which takes place between June 26-29.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Ogier VW 4h02m37.8s
2. Mads Ostberg Citroen +1m23.1s
3. Jari-Matti Latvala VW +1m32.8s
4. Andreas Mikkelsen VW +2m39.3s
5. Elfyn Evans M-Sport Ford +4m41.8s
6. Martin Prokop Czech Ford +6m05.3s
7. Henning Solberg Solberg Ford +7m15.8s
8. Robert Kubica M-Sport Ford +12m19.0s
9. Lorenzo Bertelli FWRT Ford +15m22.1s *
10. Khalid Al Qassimi Citroen +16m49.3s