05-08 June, Alghero
1. Sébastien Ogier
2. Mads Ostberg
3. Jari-Matti Latvala
4. Andreas Mikkelsen
5. Elfyn Evans
SEBASTIEN OGIER WILL LEAVE RALLY ITALIA SARDEGNA WITH A 33-POINT SERIES LEAD AFTER A HARD-FOUGHT VICTORY AT THE SIXTH ROUND OF THE FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP.
The reigning champion took the lead of the event on Saturday’s final stage after his constant pressure appeared to force team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala into making a costly mistake. The Finn had to stop to change a rear wheel after clouting a rock at the side of the road.
With a 1m 40.2s lead heading into the final day, Ogier only had to keep out of trouble on the remaining quartet of rough gravel stages to take maximum points. He did exactly that and completed the event with a 1m 23.1s advantage over second-placed Mads Ostberg.
Ogier’s haul of championship points was swelled by another bonus point when he finished third fastest on the rally-ending Power Stage at ‘Cala Flumini’.
He will head into the upcoming Rally Poland with a 33-point lead over Latvala in the championship. “I had a very tough beginning on this rally and had to put pressure on Jari (Matti Latvala) yesterday. Luckily that paid off and this is a really good feeling,” he said.
Ostberg moved up to third in the championship after a confident performance in his Citroen DS3 WRC. He started the final day with the pressure of having Latvala only 21.3s behind him, but he expertly managed the gap. Latvala beat him on three of the day’s four stages but his time gain wasn’t enough to edge past into second. Ostberg took the place by 9.7s.
Power Stage winner, Andreas Mikkelsen, ended the event in fourth place. The bonus points that were up for grabs on the final stage were all the Norwegian had to fight for given the size of the gap to Latvala in front. But victory in the 8.8km test ensured he and co-driver Ola Floene renewed their relationship on a high.
“We have finished a great rally and I can’t wait for the rest of the season. We want podiums now, for sure,” the VW driver said.
The Ford Fiesta RS WRCs of Elfyn Evans and Martin prokop rounded out the top six. Evans achieved his aim of bettering the result he scored on the event in 2013 when he was driving a WR Car for the first time. He was fifth, 1m 23.5s ahead of Prokop.
Privateer driver Henning Solberg finished seventh in his M-Sport-prepared Ford Fiesta RS WRC and was more than five minutes ahead of Robert Kubica’s identical machine. The former F1 driver had slipped down the order after picking up 10 minutes of Rally 2 penalties on Saturday’s penultimate stage.
Ninth place was filled by the Ford Fiesta RRC of WRC 2 winner Lorenzo Bertelli, while Khalid Al-Qassimi could only end the event in 10th after suffering with set-up problems for much of the rally in his Citroen DS3 WRC.