Pontus Tidemand sealed a dominant fifth WRC2 win of his championship-winning season at Wales Rally GB, but behind him a late Tom Cave mistake handed second place to Eric Camilli.
Having blown the field away in yesterday evening’s night stages, Tidemand had a big margin to the squabbling pair of Cave and Camilli behind, and elected to take a safe and steady approach to the day.
This allowed his new factory Škoda team-mate Ole Christian Veiby to grab most of the stage victory glory on rally’s final day, the Rally2 returnee setting fastest times on both runs through Brenig. Having rolled out of contention on Friday, he would only finish fourteenth overall.
Cave had started the day in second, but there were warning signs of what was to come on the first pass of Brenig. The Brit dropped 5.6 seconds to Camilli over the course of the 10.41 kilometre stage, slashing his advantage to only 1.4 seconds with three stages remaining.
It took only one further test for Camilli to jump into second however. Spinning twice in the Gwydir test, he was forced to reverse at one point, dropping a further 11 seconds and falling into third place. While he regained a couple of seconds through the re-run of Alwen, it was not enough to undo the damage.
A second Brit finished in fourth position, as fellow British Rally Championship regular David Bogie scooped a stage win on the penultimate test for his best ever WRC finish.
Bogie had been in the thick of a battle with Eyvind Brynildsen for the place, but the Norwegian’s Fiesta conked out on the road section between Brenig and Gwydir. He had complained of a lack of power since the final stage on Saturday, an issue that proved to be terminal and forced his retirement only three stages from the rally end.
The third works Škoda rounded out the top five in the hands of Juuso Nordgren, who strung together a good set of stage times to increase his gap by approximately 10 seconds over Gus Greensmith, who came home in sixth.
Matt Edwards joined Bogie on the stage winner’s list, going quickest through the tricky Gwydir stage which had caught out Cave. He benefited from a mistake by Pierre-Louis Loubet in the same test, carrying too much speed over a crest and clattering into a bank, rolling his Fiesta R5.
Loubet lost 40 seconds but was otherwise fine, the car sustaining only minor damage. He pressed ahead to secure eighth place, with the top ten rounded out by Łukasz Pieniążek and Fabio Andolfi, both well over three minutes behind Loubet.
Pedro Heller‘s colourful weekend took a turn for the unusual, checking in 26 minutes late for Sunday morning service after sleeping in. Having rolled his Fiesta and picked up punctures earlier in the rally, he was well down the order in 18th, to the point his 4 minute 20 second penalty did not affect his position.
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* Jump start on SS21 (Brenig 2)