Ogier Victorious in Nail-Biting Rally Thriller – Rally Sweden 2015 Report

The sweeping snow-covered stages of the Rally Sweden present a unique challenge for the drivers and every year create an exciting rally. This year was no exception; in fact many could consider this as being one of the most thrilling Swedish rallies of all time with three drivers in contention for the victory going into the final day. In the end though, it was Volkswagen’s Sebastien Ogier who took his 26th WRC career victory after his team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen went off the road metres from the end of the last stage. Ogier took the win ahead of Thierry Neuville, who drove a superb drive for Hyundai, with Mikkelsen having to settle for third.

The start of the rally though progressed in a mundane fashion with the Volkswagens looking completely dominate; just like in Monte Carlo Ogier moved into the lead ahead of team-mates Mikkelsen and Jari-Matti Latvala. The Frenchman won three of the first four stages to build up a ten second cushion over Latvala but bonnet and windscreen wiper problems allowed the Finn to close the gap right down. On the penultimate stage of the day though, the rally was turned on its head, with Ogier going off at a junction and losing around forty seconds. This seemingly would allow Latvala to take the lead but on the very same stage he also went off the road and got his car beached in a snowbank, losing over eight minutes and in the process seeing his chances at victory vanish. All of this left Mikkelsen, who was right at home on stages that were also held in his home country of Norway, with a slight cushion over the chasing pack despite hitting a chicane earlier in the day. For much of Day 1 he had been embroiled in a battle with his countryman Mads Ostberg but the latter dropped back to third after losing time later in the day, but was only 0.3 of a second behind Neuville’s Hyundai. Ogier though had caught up to the pair and was just five seconds back in fourth. Estonian Ott Tanak was the leading Ford in fifth, whilst problems for Kris Meeke, Robert Kubica and Hyundai new boy Kevin Abbring left them down the order.

RallySweden2015Ostberg

The second day started with Ostberg slamming a snowbank and puncturing his rear-left tyre, which dropped him behind Ogier. The Frenchman was on a charge and a spin from leader Mikkelsen meant that his lead was cut to just 1.7 seconds by the midday service. Ogier had also moved past Neuville, who had struggled somewhat in the morning stages. However, an inspired decision to put new spiked tyres on the front of his Hyundai paid dividends as he became visibly faster than the other leading cars. The Belgian set an incredible pace through the final stage of the day to move into a 1.5 second lead over Mikkelsen, with his morning errors eventually proving costly. Just eight seconds further back was Ogier who, despite dropping valuable seconds in the afternoon, was still within pouncing distance of the lead. Behind Ostberg’s Citroen, Tanak continued to hold fifth place ahead of the second Hyundai of Kiwi Hayden Paddon. The recovering Meeke was up to ninth, just four tenths of a second behind fellow Brit Elfyn Evans, whilst Latvala’s miserable rally continued with another off, leaving him down in 17th position.

RallySweden2015Neuville

The stage was set for a classic fight to the finish and with just three stages separating the drivers from the finish, every kilometre counted. The overnight leader Neuville struggled to keep up with the Volkswagens, conceding first his lead on the opener to Mikkelsen and then second to Ogier on the penultimate stage of the rally. This meant that just three seconds separated the team-mates as they entered into the Power Stage and, more importantly, the final stage of the rally. The split times suggested that the Norwegian would take his first ever WRC victory but with the finish in sight, it all went pear-shaped. Mikkelsen was dragged into the snow after hitting a bank and lost forty seconds, giving the two-time WRC champion Ogier his 26th career victory, putting him equal third on the all-time list. Despite not being able to hold on to his advantage Neuville was happy to bring the car home in second, just 6.4 seconds behind the Frenchman. An emotional Mikkelsen took third whilst Tanak moved up to fourth when Ostberg went off the road on the day’s opener and lost five minutes. That meant Paddon finished in a career-best fifth position in his Hyundai with Evans fending off Meeke, who spun on the final stage, for sixth. Two privateers, Martin Prokop and Yuriy Protasov, took eighth and ninth in their Fords; the former nearly rolled his car on the final day with Ostberg taking the final point after looking likely to achieve a much higher finish. Abbring eventually brought his Hyundai home in one piece just outside the points, ahead of WRC stalwart Henning Solberg. Kubica’s problems left him 19th but at least he finished; both Latvala and Lorenzo Bertelli retired after the final stage.

RallySweden2015Mikkelsen

In WRC 2 virtually the whole of the rally was led by Finn Jari Ketomaa in a Ford Fiesta R5, who made up for a disappointing 2014 campaign with a dominant drive in the Swedish forests. He finished with a margin of just over half a minute over Eyvind Brynildsen, who had no problems over the course of the event. Taking the final podium place was Valeriy Gorban’s Mini Cooper S2000, who recovered after losing three minutes in an off. Less than fifteen seconds separated him from fifth placed Pontus Tidemand, who shocked everyone by taking the lead of the WRC after the first super special stage. Yazeed Al-Rajhi was between these two in fourth place, despite an excursion into a ditch. Fredrik Ahlin was on course to take third place but an off on the final day relegated him to sixth. Simone Tempestini was the leading Production Cup driver within WRC 2, finishing in ninth place overall, whilst Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby was the only starter and finisher within WRC 3, taking a respectable 21st overall.

After a truly memorable Rally Sweden 2015 Sebastien Ogier was the victor for the second rally in succession and therefore meant that he already held a fairly comfortable 23 point cushion over Neuville and Mikkelsen. Reigning Manufacturers’ champions Volkswagen also led the championship with a slightly less comfortable advantage over Hyundai.

Next the crews head to the third round of the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship in what will be their first taste of gravel on the long dusty stages of Rally Mexico, which takes place on the 5th-8th March.

63. Rally Sweden 2015 Results

Pos. Driver Name Co-Driver Name Car Time/Diff
1 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Volkswagen Polo R WRC 2:55:30.5
2 T. Neuville N. Gilsoul Hyundai i20 WRC +6.4
3 A. Mikkelsen O. Floene Volkswagen Polo R WRC +39.8
4 O. Tanak R. Molder Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2:26.0
5 H. Paddon J. Kennard Hyundai i20 WRC +3:31.5
6 E. Evans D. Barritt Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3:53.0
7 K. Meeke P. Nagle Citroen DS3 WRC +4:05.8
8 M. Prokop J. Tomanek Ford Fiesta RS WRC +4:26.0
9 Y. Protasov P. Cherepin Ford Fiesta RS WRC +5:32.2
10 M. Ostberg J. Andersson Citroen DS3 WRC +6:50.9

WRC Drivers’ Championship After Round 2

Pos. Driver Name MC SWE Total Points
1 S. Ogier 25 25 + 3 53
2 T. Neuville 10 18 + 2 30
3 A. Mikkelsen 15 15 30
4 J. Latvala 18 + 1 19
5 M. Ostberg 12 1 + 1 14
6 E. Evans 6 8 14
7 O. Tanak 12 12
8 H. Paddon 10 10
9 K. Meeke 1 + 3 6 10
10 D. Sordo 8 8

WRC Manufacturer’s Championship After Round 2

Pos. Team Name MC SWE Total Points
1 Volkswagen 43 25 68
2 Hyundai 27 28 55
3 M-Sport 12 20 32
4 Citroen 12 8 20
5 Volkswagen II 15 15
6 Jipocar Czech 6 4 10
7 F.W.R.T 1 1
8 Hyundai N 1 1

RallySweden2015Logo

WRC 2 Results

Pos. Driver Name Co-Driver Name Car Time/Diff
1 J. Ketomaa K. Lindstrom Ford Fiesta R5 3:05:07.4
2 E. Brynildsen A. Fredriksson Ford Fiesta RRC +32.6
3 V. Gorban V. Korsia Mini Cooper S2000 +3:27.4
4 Y. Al-Rajhi M. Orr Ford Fiesta RRC +3:40.2
5 P. Tidemand E. Axelsson Ford Fiesta RRC +3:43.5
6 F. Ahlin M. Abrahamsen Ford Fiesta R5 +4:34.6
7 J. Koltun I. Pleskot Ford Fiesta R5 +12:19.1
8 O. Kikireshko K. Sikk Mini Cooper S2000 +14:25.7
9 S. Tempestini M. Chiarcossi Subaru Impreza STI +18:50.6
10 A. Grondal R. Eilertsen Citroen DS3 R5 +21:47.0

RallySweden2015Ketomaa

WRC 3 Results

Pos. Driver Name Co-Driver Name Car Time/Diff
1 O. Veiby A. Jaeger Citroen DS3 R3T 3:16:03.5

RallySweden2015Veiby

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