WRC Finland: Ogier claims comfortable win, Neuville snatches second

Sebastien Ogier claimed his first Rally Finland victory by a comfortable margin, while Thierry Neuville won an amazing battle for second

WRC Finland: Ogier claims comfortable win, Neuville snatches second

Ogier had taken control of the rally on Friday afternoon, when he burst clear of what had started off as a super-close tussle involving the World Rally Championship leader's Volkswagen, M-Sport Ford team-mates Neuville and Mads Ostberg, and Citroen's Mikko Hirvonen.

All led at various junctures and the lead group was often covered by just seconds.

But as Ogier settled he was able to raise his game, and by the start of the final morning he was nearly 40s clear.

He declared that he would take it easy through Saturday, but still set a new record time on the legendary Ouninpohja stage.

Hirvonen lost touch with the leaders when he caught the worst of a storm on the Himos stage on Thursday afternoon, so that left Neuville and Ostberg to battle for second.

The two young drivers gave it everything, swapping positions four times on Saturday morning alone.

Their battle was not settled until the penultimate stage, when Ostberg slewed off the road and spun while avoiding a rock, finally giving Neuville some breathing space.

Neuville then celebrated his second place with the fastest time on the power stage.

Live motorsport updates with AUTOSPORT Race Centre Live

The eventual Ogier, Neuville, Ostberg top three made this only the second ever Rally Finland not to feature a Finn on the podium. The Markko Martin, Petter Solberg and Richard Burns podium of 2003 was the only other occasion.

Hirvonen was top Finn in fourth, but was overshadowed in the Citroen camp by WRC returnee Kris Meeke.

Recruited for one rally only to stand in for Khalid Al-Qassimi, Meeke was rapid from the outset, shrugging off a blocking spat with Evgeny Novikov to keep Hirvonen in sight until the final morning.

Meeke was set for fifth, only to crash out with one stage to go.

That incident and a late retirement for Jarkko Nikara - who had got Prodrive's revived Mini up to sixth - brought Dani Sordo into the top six.

The works Citroen driver had a muted rally and was a long way off the pace all weekend as he struggled for confidence.

Novikov recovered from the crash that ended with him rejoining in Meeke's path to take seventh.

Jari-Matti Latvala had his heart set on victory following encouraging recent results, only to damage his VW's suspension on only the second stage, wrecking his weekend.

WRC2 had a home winner in the shape of Jari Ketomaa. The Finn dominated from the outset, while Robert Kubica impressed with a clear second place in class on his debut on this famous event.

Leading finishers after SS23: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Sebastien Ogier VW 2h43m10.4s 2. Thierry Neuville M-Sport Ford +36.6s 3. Mads Ostberg M-Sport Ford +57.6s 4. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen +1m21.6s 5. Dani Sordo Citroen +6m08.5s 6. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford +8m39.7s 7. Jari Ketomaa Autotek Ford +11m19.2s* 8. PG Andersson AT Ford +11m41.5s 9. Robert Kubica PH Citroen +12m48.1s* 10. Andreas Mikkelsen VW +13m42.0s * WRC2 Other WRC finishers: 17. Jari-Matti Latvala VW +21m37.7s 32. Juho Hanninen Hanninen Ford +32m23.4s 43. Riku Tahko ST Mini +58m47.7s WRC retirements: Kris Meeke Citroen SS22 Jarkko Nikara Prodrive Mini SS22 Martin Prokop Czech Ford SS12 Leading power stage results: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Thierry Neuville M-Sport Ford 3m46.6s 2. Sebastien Ogier VW +0.3s 3. Jari-Matti Latvala VW +0.8s 4. Mads Ostberg M-Sport Ford +1.3s 5. Juho Hanninen Hanninen Ford +2.7s 
shares
comments
Next article

Mingling with the rally-mad masses

Mingling with the rally-mad masses
Why WRC's Safari tour is more than just a rally Plus

Why WRC's Safari tour is more than just a rally

OPINION: A source of national pride in Kenya, the Safari Rally is also a sporting, cultural and economic phenomenon. And as last weekend's World Rally Championship round reminded us, it's a key driver in establishing Africa’s place in world motorsport

WRC
Jun 29, 2022
How Rovanpera tamed a wild Safari Rally Plus

How Rovanpera tamed a wild Safari Rally

The Safari Rally acted as a brutal test of driver and car resolve as multiple retirements opened the path for a historic Toyota 1-2-3-4 triumph, headed by star Kalle Rovanpera. But keeping things clean was only half of the challenge, as a well-timed charge when conditions worsened allowed the Finn to take control

WRC
Jun 27, 2022
How Tanak turned the tables to deliver Hyundai a timely WRC triumph Plus

How Tanak turned the tables to deliver Hyundai a timely WRC triumph

The 2019 champion has been a bit-part player recently, but Ott Tanak ended a 15-month drought in fine style with a dominant win in Sardinia. On a weekend when championship leader Kalle Rovanpera struggled with cleaning the road, his Hyundai rival has made his belated arrival into the title race and given cause for those predicting a walkover from the Toyota star to pause

WRC
Jun 6, 2022
How Rovanpera overcame rallying royalty in Portugal to extend his WRC lead Plus

How Rovanpera overcame rallying royalty in Portugal to extend his WRC lead

Although the Rally Portugal entry list featured World Rally Championship royalty in Sebastiens Loeb and Ogier, victory was secured by rallying's rising star in Kalle Rovanpera. Here's the story of his 2022 hat-trick, as his key rivals faltered among the gravel and asphalt ahead of them

WRC
May 23, 2022
The former WRC star playing the unsung hero role for Rovanpera Plus

The former WRC star playing the unsung hero role for Rovanpera

Kalle Rovanpera’s 2022 World Rally Championship displays have been spectacular, with the Toyota driver benefitting from a secret weapon in his crew to win two of the opening three rallies. But while the former challenger to Sebastien Loeb won’t take credit for his fellow Finn's performances, a key bond has been formed which could prove key to Rovanpera’s title charge

WRC
Apr 29, 2022
How Rovanpera's Croatia turnaround sent a message to his WRC rivals Plus

How Rovanpera's Croatia turnaround sent a message to his WRC rivals

After a dominating Rally Croatia, a wrong tyre choice on the final day looked to have undone all Kalle Rovanpera's hard work and left him with a mountain to climb heading into the power stage. That he emerged the winner all the same has surely quelled any lingering doubts that the Finn is the man to beat in the 2022 WRC

WRC
Apr 25, 2022
How M-Sport's faith in Loubet led to a WRC reprieve after a dismal 2021 Plus

How M-Sport's faith in Loubet led to a WRC reprieve after a dismal 2021

It's fair to say 2021 was a year to forget for Pierre-Louis Loubet. A maiden full World Rally Championship season offered hope but soon turned into a nightmare that ended in hospital, after being hit by a car in a road traffic accident. Now handed a lifeline by M-Sport, the Frenchman is desperate to rebuild his career

WRC
Apr 20, 2022
Why WRC mechanics deserve more respect Plus

Why WRC mechanics deserve more respect

The drivers get the glare of attention, but it’s the mechanics who are key to the operation of any World Rally Championship car. Autosport donned a set of overalls and joined M-Sport on a Belgian national rally event to get an inside look into the trials and tribulations of a rally mechanic

WRC
Apr 17, 2022