WRC Poland: Sebastien Ogier secures commanding win
|Sunday, June 29th 2014, 11:00 GMT|
Sebastien Ogier clinched his fifth win of the 2014 World Rally Championship season by a commanding 1m07.7s margin in Poland, increasing his points lead to 50.
With his Volkswagen team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen's errors and brake problems on Saturday having taken the sting out of what had been a ferocious battle between them, Ogier just had to cruise through Sunday's final four stages, with second-placed Mikkelsen also taking it easy.
The focus of the last morning was Jari-Matti Latvala's attempt to regain ground after the suspension damage that dropped him to seventh on Saturday - though even before that incident he had struggled for pace and conceded defeat as early as Friday morning.
Latvala started the day sixth, quickly took fifth from Juho Hanninen's Hyundai, and then tried to chase down Thierry Neuville and Mikko Hirvonen in third and fourth.
Despite Latvala's extremely determined efforts, he fell seven tenths of a second short of catching Hirvonen, while Neuville pulled himself clear of the M-Sport Ford to secure the second podium for Hyundai's i20 in third.
Neuville had struggled with brake issues early in the rally, then vaulted from 10th to third over the course of Saturday thanks to both his own pace and a variety of incidents ahead. Hanninen had also been third for a while, before losing time with steering concerns.
Latvala could not even get the maximum Powerstage score, as both Ogier and Mikkelsen outpaced him on the bonus points stage on their way to celebrating first and second overall.
Citroen's Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg were both close behind the VWs until the ruts of Friday's stages in Lithuania spread out the lead pack.
Their podium chances than ended with mistakes on Saturday's long Goldap stage, Ostberg rolling out and Meeke picking up a puncture with a violent detour through a field.
Meeke made it back to seventh place, moving ahead of Hayden Paddon and Henning Solberg on the final morning.
Robert Kubica ran as high as fourth and escaped a Thursday afternoon roll with only a half-minute time loss, but breaking his suspension on Saturday was more costly and left him running down the order under Rally2 for Sunday.
Final positions after SS24: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Sebastien Ogier VW 2m34.02.0s 2. Andreas Mikkelsen VW +1m07.7s 3. Thierry Neuville Hyundai +2m13.5s 4. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport Ford +2m32.4s 5. Jari-Matti Latvala VW +2m33.1s 6. Juho Hanninen Hyundai +2m45.2s 7. Kris Meeke Citroen +4m27.9s 8. Hayden Paddon Hyundai +4m32.1s 9. Henning Solberg Solberg Ford +4m59.0s 10. Martin Prokop Czech Ford +6m11.3s