Ogier Wins Dramatic Rally Sweden

Just 9.6 seconds separated the top three crews heading onto the final day of Rally Sweden, round 2 of the FIA World Rally Championship, and with just three stages remaining on the event the tension was high. Thierry Neuville lead the way after day 3 in his Hyundai I20 WRC with the Volkswagon Polo R WRC of Andreas Mikkelsen just 1.5 seconds behind. World champion Sebastien Ogier was hot on their tracks only 9.6 seconds behind in third.

First blood went to Ogier as he negotiated the 15 kilometre Lesjofors test, stage 19, in a time of 9:05.8 beating Mikkelsen by 1.3 seconds. Neuville completed the stage third fastest 6.6 seconds slower than the world champion which relegated the Belgian to second place with Mikkelsen inheriting the lead. The top three were now separated by only 6.8 seconds.

Into the 15.8 kilometre Varmullsasen stage and the recovering Jari Matti Latvala took the stage win with Ogier in second. Mikkelsen and Neuville followed suit in third and fourth. Mikkelsen headed into the final service stop with a slender lead of just 3 seconds over Ogier how had taken second place from Neuville.

After service it was stage 21, the power stage, which was a repeat of stage 20 and the final chance for Sebastien Ogier to snatch a dramatic victory. Neuville was the first of the top three to complete the stage doing so in a time of 8:10.4 and going fastest up until that point. Ogier managed to better the Belgians time by 4.8 seconds and anxiously waited at the end of the stage for news of Mikkelsen’s time. Drama was to follow however as the Norwegian slid of the road and got stuck in a snow bank two thirds of the way through the stage. Ogier got word of the drama during his post stage interviews and celebrated a fantastic comeback victory. Mikkelsen made it to the end of the stage 42.8 seconds slower than the Frenchman and had to settle for third place overall.

Behind the top three it was fourth place M-Sport’s Ott Tanak securing his best result to date in Sweden. It was a rally to remember for Hayden Paddon who completed his debut for Hyundai Motorsport with fifth place. Elfyn Evans got over his final stage retirement here last year to take 6th place from a disheartened Kris Meeke who survived a final stage spin to take 7th. Martin Prokop, Yuriy Protasov took 8th and 9th with a disappointed Mads Ostberg taking the final points paying position.

Andreas Mikkelsen spun on the final stage to end his chances of victory (Credit: Volkswagen Media)
Andreas Mikkelsen spun on the final stage to end his chances of victory (Credit: Volkswagen Media)

Rally of Sweden Result

1. Sebastien Ogier 2:55:30.5s
2. Thierry Neuville + 6.4
3. Andreas Mikkelsen + 39.8
4. Ott Tanak +2:26.0
5. Hayden Paddon +3:31.5
6. Elfyn Evans +3:53.0
7. Kris Meeke +4:05.8
8. Martin Prokop +4:26.0
9. Yuriy Protasov +5:32.2
10. Mads Ostberg +6:50.9