Ogier seals maiden WRC victory
|By Steven English||Sunday, May 30th 2010, 14:04 GMT|
Sebastien Ogier clinched his maiden World Rally Championship victory in Portugal on Sunday.
The Frenchman secured the win by keeping fellow Citroen driver Sebastien Loeb at bay during the day's earlier stages and sealed the achievement on the final two-kilometre superspecial asphalt stage in the Algarve stadium.
Ogier went head-to-head with Loeb for the finale in the stadium and beat the reigning world champion by 0.2s, giving him an overall winning margin of just 7.9s.
"It's just perfect," said Ogier. "It was an amazing weekend, I pushed from the first day until now - all weekend it was a big battle and very hard to keep Seb [Loeb] behind me.
"To win my first rally like this, after a big battle with Seb, is just perfect. In New Zealand I lost it but I said that when I did win, it would be even more happy - and I am very happy today."
Loeb conceded that he was simply unable to beat Ogier over the weekend and congratulated his countryman on his maiden win.
"He has done very, very well here - he was unbeatable," said Loeb. "I lost too much time on the first day. Then we couldn't make up the gap in the two next days.
"He was very, very fast. He is a real contender now. He showed that he was a lot faster than anyone else in Portugal. For me, second place is not so bad for the championship. It was important to score points."
The final stage was won by Federico Villagra, setting a time 0.7s quicker than second-placed Matt Wilson, with Kimi Raikkonen third. Ogier and Loeb were two seconds slower than Villagra in sixth and seventh.
Dani Sordo cemented his third place, well over a minute behind the two leading Citroens, while Mikko Hirvonen nicked fourth place thanks to Petter Solberg crashing in the superspecial.
The Norwegian was exiting a left-hander when he got out of shape and ended up with two wheels on top of the water-filled bollards. He escaped a big accident but had to stop and restart, and dropped 14 seconds to Hirvonen - losing out overall by just 3.7s.
Despite finishing in third place on the final stage, Raikkonen was disappointed to end the event in 10th place after suffering tyre problems and falling two places on the final day.
"This afternoon there was one right-hander with something on the inside and I went on two wheels, broke the front right tyre and I lost two places," said Raikkonen. "That's life, but at least I finished and learned the rally."
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap 1. Sebastien Ogier Citroen 3h51.16.1s 2. Sebastien Loeb Citroen +7.9s 3. Dani Sordo Citroen +1m17.6s 4. Mikko Hirvonen Ford +1m32.0s 5. Petter Solberg Citroen +1m35.7s 6. Matthew Wilson Ford +7m10.1s 7. Mads Ostberg Subaru +7m28.3s 8. Federico Villagra Ford +10m36.1s 9. Khalid Al Qassimi Ford +10m55.8s 10. Kimi Raikkonen Citroen +11m34.3s