M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have reignited their FIA World Rally Championship defence with victory at the Dayinsure Wales Rally GB. The Frenchmen secured a momentous fifth victory on Welsh soil – making them the event’s most successful pairing in history.
Most importantly, however, the result sees them climb back into second place in the driver and co-driver standings. Now they are just seven points shy of the lead with two events and 60 points still up for grabs!
“This victory really does mean a lot to the whole team. We knew that we could deliver a strong result and that all three of our crews had the ability to fight for the top positions”, Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said.
“But on Friday evening it looked as though all hope of another win on home soil was gone – Sébastien had lost time with a transmission issue, Elfyn [Evans] had been forced to retire with a misfire, and Teemu [Suninen] had sustained damage to the rollcage.”
“It wasn’t looking great and I was thinking what a different 12 months can make! But you really can never discount Sébastien. He and Julien delivered a true champions’ drive and suddenly I was thinking what a different 24 hours can make!”
“Locked in such an intense battle, they showed what this victory means to them; and their performance through the last three stages was brilliant. It puts us back on track in the driver and co-driver standings and I’m as excited as every rally fan to see how it plays out over the last two events.”
Going into the final day of competition, the reigning World Champions were locked in an intense battle with fellow Wales Rally GB winners, Jari Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila
As the excitement got underway the Frenchmen held a 4.4-second advantage over their rivals. Then the battle intensified as two strong stages from Latvala put the Finn 3.6 seconds clear at the head of the field.
But Ogier wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass him by. Pushing hard, the World Champion delivered a sensational performance over the final three speed tests – three inspired fastest stage times securing the win by 10.6 seconds.
The victory is Ogier and Ingrassia’s fifth on Welsh soil
It could prove pivotal in what is turning into one of the most thrilling championship battles for decades.
“It’s been a great weekend for us and one with a lot of different emotions. I’m very proud to have won this rally for the fifth time, especially because we know how challenging and tough it is to stay on the road and not make mistakes in these conditions”, Ogier explained.
“We had a very difficult start on Friday and thought the rally was almost over, but then we fought back with everything we had. We knew that the podium was still within our reach and when Ott [Tänak] had his problems it became a big fight for the win.”
— Wales Rally GB (@WalesRallyGB) October 7, 2018
“Jari-Matti was determined to win himself and was very quick, which forced us to react”
“Luckily I was able to finish the rally with three perfect stages – especially SS22 which was as close to perfection as I can get and I’m glad I could make the difference there.”
“It’s a great step in the right direction for the championship and puts us right back in the fight. The last two rallies will be exciting and the intensity is going to be higher than ever.”
“I’m looking forward to Spain now, where we can perform well I think, followed by Australia where it will probably all be decided. I’m sure the fans will love a close fight and I’m excited for the end of the season.”
Victory for @SebOgier and Julien @WalesRallyGB!! It’s their fifth on Welsh soil, making them the event’s most successful crew in history! But most importantly, it means that their championship defence has been reignited!! #WRC #WRGB #FordPerformance pic.twitter.com/DM98qYWtlg
— M-Sport (@MSportLtd) October 7, 2018