Sebastien Ogier took his second victory of the season in Croatia, as a Wolf Power Stage win hauled the Frenchman back into the lead after a dramatic morning for the Toyota driver.
Driving to the opening stage of the morning, Ogier’s Toyota Yaris WRC was involved in a road section collision which left him with substantial damage to the co-driver’s side door. The missing aero and stress of the situation no doubt affecting him, as team mate Elfyn Evans took the lead on the second stage of the morning.
Going into that final stage, Evans held a 3.9 second lead but he could not match Ogier throughout the stage, before going wide on the final corner of the stage cost him enough time to finish the stage 4.5 seconds slower and ultimately hand the win to Ogier by 0.6 seconds. Evans was fourth best through the Power Stage, claiming 2 bonus points. The win catapulted Ogier to the top of the driver’s standings as he claimed a perfect 30 points from the weekend.
Thierry Neuville took his third consecutive third place after never recovering all the time lost with a poor tyre choice on Saturday morning. A slight overshoot on the power stage cost him some seconds in the hunt for Power Stage points, but his third place on the stage matched his overall result and number of power stage points earned. Team mate Ott Tanak was fourth in another Hyundai i20 WRC, the Estonian never really being on the pace all weekend. He claimed the final power stage point with fifth quickest time.
Fifth went to the hugely impressive Adrien Fourmaux making his WRC debut in a Ford Fiesta WRC. He had a blot on his otherwise clean copybook on stage 18 as he slid into a ditch and lost a minute, but calmly recovered the car to the road without a loss of position. This will not be the last time we see the Frenchman in a top-spec Fiesta. Takamoto Katsuta finished sixth again, like Neuville his third consecutive finish in the same position.
Gus Greensmith struggled with hydraulic issues on stage 18, losing his handbrake and having the change gears without the paddleshift. This allowed Katsuta to overtake him on the leaderboard as the Brit lost over 30 seconds, though the problem was fixed for the next stage. Craig Breen finished in eighth, nearly four and a half minutes behind the leader after losing two minutes yesterday due to a puncture. The Irishman was a little more upbeat at the end of the final stage stating he had learnt a lot, even if the overall result was a disappointment. Second on the power stage gave him four extra points.
There was no further changes in the top 10, the remaining positions still being held by the leading WRC2, with Mads Ostberg and Teemu Suninen in ninth and tenth respectively.
WRC Top 3 Overall
1. Sebastien Ogier – Toyota Yaris WRC – 2:51:22.9
2. Elfyn Evans – Toyota Yaris WRC – +0.6 seconds
3. Thierry Neuville – Hyundai i20 WRC – +8.1 seconds
Power Stage Bonus Points
Sebastien Ogier – 5 points
Craig Breen – 4 points
Thierry Neuville – 3 Points
Elfyn Evans – 2 Points
Ott Tanak – 1 point
FIA World Rally Championship 2
Mads Ostberg made a perfect return to the FIA World Rally Championship 2 support series with victory in his Citroen C3 Rally2 despite a day of brake woes.
The Norweigen was complaining of no brakes from the off and will of been concerned by Nikolay Gryazin taking out 24.9 seconds on the first two stages of the day. However the Russian’s rally was to end on stage 19 as he rolled his VW Polo R5 blocking the stage.
This allowed Mads to take his first win of the season, with Teemu Suninen taking second in a Ford Fiesta Rally2 after a quiet Sunday. Gryazin’s retirement promoted Marco Bulacia to third in his Skoda Fabia evo Rally2.
Andreas Mikkelsen set fastest time on the Power Stage to claim the five bonus points after a difficult event. A broken control arm on Friday scuppered any plans for a decent result for the Skoda Fabia driver. As only five WRC2 cars finished the event, all finished picked up points on the power stage.
WRC2 Top 3 Overall
1. Mads Ostberg – Citroen C3 Rally2 – 3:01:23.7
2. Teemu Suninen – Ford Fiesta Rally2 – +28.5
3. Marco Bulacia – Skoda Fabia evo Rally2 – +2:02.7
FIA World Rally Championship 3
Kajetan Kajetanowicz made the perfect start to his return in WRC3 with victory in Croatia in his Skoda Fabia Evo Rally2.
After his main rival Yohan Rossel rolled out of the lead on Saturday, the Pole took a measured drive on Sunday to claim the win by over a minute from Emil Lindholm. The Finn was happy to reach the end of the rally on the podium after crashing out of the lead in Lapland last time out.
It was also an impressive recovery drive from Rossel as he got his Citroen C3 Rally2 back on the podium despite his earlier roll. Chris Ingram who was third overall at the end of day two, eventually ended the rally fifth, after an off on stage 18 lost him time and also bent his steering.
WRC3 Top 3 Overall
1. Kajetan Kajetanowicz – Skoda Fabia evo Rally2 – 3:03:23.8
2. Emil Lindholm – Skoda Fabia evo Rally2 – +1:14.6
3. Yohan Rossel – Citroen C3 Rally2 – +2:41.4
FIA Junior World Rally Championship
Jon Armstrong took the first JWRC victory of the season in Croatia and brought home his Ford Fiesta Rally4 over thirty seconds ahead of second placed Martin Sesks.
After taking the lead on Saturday afternoon Armstrong extended it on the evening stages, before settling into a rhythm on Sunday to get to the end of the event and secure the win.
Lauri Joona, who was battling Armstrong for the lead on Saturday following Martin Koci’s puncture, lost over 25 seconds on the second stage of the day and had to settle for third overall as Sesks leapfrogged himself into second. Brit William Creighton finished fifth on his JWRC debut.
JWRC Top 3 Overall
1. Jon Armstrong – Ford Fiesta Rally4 – 3:15:07.6
2. Martin Sesks – Ford Fiesta Rally4 – +33.5
3. Lauri Joona – Ford Fiesta Rally 4 – +48.8