Reigning champion Sebastien Ogier dominated Rally Germany, finally giving Volkswagen a win on home soil at the third attempt.
The Frenchman briefly lost the lead to VW teammate Jari-Matti Latvala on Friday morning, but during the afternoon he stamped his authority on the competition and pulled clear.
Latvala did his best to hound Ogier through Saturday’s early stages, but had no answer for the leader’s scorching pace on the second run through Panzerplatte Long. Nibbling into Ogier’s advantage on Sunday and winning the Power Stage wasn’t enough for Latvala force an upset. After winning 14 of the 21 stages, Ogier claimed the victory by 23 seconds.
The win means VW has now triumphed on every rally the WRC visits and puts Ogier equal second on the all-time wins list, level with Marcus Gronholm on 30.
Volkswagen junior Andreas Mikkelesen finished a lonely third. He had contested the position early on with Kris Meeke, until the Citroen driver went off the road and broke his suspension.
Dani Sordo staged a late charge for the podium in his Hyundai, but was unable to overcome the deficit. Still, it was his best result of the year so far. Teammate Thierry Neuville was fifth after battling niggling technical and handling issues.
Welsh youngster Elfyn Evans put in his best Tarmac performance yet to finish sixth for M-Sport Ford, and had the distinction of being the only non-VW driver to win a stage.
Mads Ostberg had a quiet drive to seventh ahead of an erratic Ott Tanak. Hayden Paddon was ninth after his Hyundai suffered turbo troubles and World Rally Car debutant Stephane Lefebvre closed out the top ten.
Speaking after the rally, Ogier said: “It’s a big relief to win this rally especially. The pressure was on all weekend because everyone expected us to be successful on our home round but we made it. I’m so close to my third title and its been a fantastic weekend.”
Ogier holds a 93-point lead in the championship with four events remaining. Should he win next time out in Australia, he will secure his third successive title.
The WRC head down under for the next round in Australia on 11-13 September.
Rally Germany top ten after 21 stages
- Sebastien Ogier — Volkswagen Motorsport/VW Polo R WRC — 3:35:49.5
- Jari-Matti Latvala — Volkswagen Motorsport/VW Polo R WRC — +23.0
- Andreas Mikkelesen — Volkswagen Motorsport II/VW Polo R WRC — +1:56.6
- Dani Sordo — Hyundai Motorsport/Hyundai i20 WRC — +2:09.3
- Thierry Neuville — Hyundai Motorsport/Hyundai i20 WRC — +2:33.8
- Elfyn Evans — M-Sport WRT/Ford Fiesta RS WRC — +2:52.1
- Mads Ostberg — Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT/DS 3 WRC — +3:12.5
- Ott Tanak — M-Sport WRT/Ford Fiesta RS WRC — +4:26.6
- Hayden Paddon — Hyundai Motorsport N/Hyundai i20 WRC — +4:46.8
- Stephane Lefebvre — Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT/DS 3 WRC — +4:54.5
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By Only Motors