Ogier continues to dominate with snowy victory | WRC Rally Sweden Sunday Report

Sébastien Ogier took another clean sweep of rally lead and power stage victory as he wrapped up Rally Sweden on Sunday.

The reigning triple-world champion took the lead at the first stage of the rally in SS2 and despite a sublime performance from Hayden Paddon, he never relinquished it.

A reduced running of just twelve stages instead of twenty-one meant almost an hour of time was knocked off the winner’s time compared to last year; the Frenchman’s 2015 winning time of 2:55:30.5 dwarfed by his effort in 2016, clocking in at 1:59:47.4, just under an hour quicker.

The planned four stages on the final day of WRC Rally Sweden were cut to just one – the final ‘power’ live TV stage in Värmullsåsen. The final power stage sees additional points awarded to the fastest three drivers, and Ogier did just that, gaining an additional three points.

Next fastest was local boy Andreas Mikkelsen, followed by Kris Meeke, who took a huge hit to his rally on the first day when a rock smashed his steering out of shape. The Northern Irishman finished down in 23rd overall, but his effort on Sunday was enough to salvage his first point of the season.

Results from SS21 – Värmullsåsen (Power Stage)
1) Sebastien Ogier, VW Motorsport – 7:42.7 (3 Pts)
2) Andreas Mikkelsen, VW Motorsport II – 7:46.1 (2 Pts)
3) Kris Meeke, Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team – 7:51.7 (1 Pt)

Nobody could come close to Ogier’s time; not even Hayden Paddon, who had threatened to overpower him all weekend. The New Zealander tried all he might, but a puncture to his radiator on the very last stage put paid to those efforts.

Final Rally Results after 12 stages
1) Sebastien Ogier, VW Motorsport, Polo R, (1:59:47.7)
2) Hayden Paddon, Hyundai, i20 (+29.8)
3) Mads Ostberg, M-Sport, Fiesta RS (+55.6)
4 Andreas Mikkelsen, VW Motorsport II, Polo R (+1:10.8)
5) Ott Tanak, DMACK, Fiesta RS, (+1m 50.7)
6) Dani Sordo, Hyundai R, i20 (+2m 24.0)
7) Henning Solberg, Adapta, Fiesta RS (+2m 40.0)
8) Craig Breen, Abu Dhabi Total, DS3 WRC (+2:44.6)
9) Elfyn Evans, M-Sport, Fiesta R5 (+5:17.0) WRC2
10) Teemu Suninen, Skoda Motorsport, Fabia R5 (+5: 31.6) WRC2

POS) Driver, Team, Car, Time/Split
*Note only top 10 positions are show

The result sees Ogier extend his lead in the championship to 26 points already over VW colleague Mikkelsen, who is in turn six points of fellow Norwegian Mads Ostberg.

Hayden Paddon’s incredible form in Sweden sees him put points on the board after the disappointment of Monte Caro, and the Kiwi has promised “more of the same” next time out in Mexico.

Steady form from Dani Sordo and Ott Tanak see them in fifth and sixth, and Henning Solberg and Craig Breen do well to get on the leaderboard after their first rallies of the year.

Drivers Championship Standings
1) Sébastien Ogier, VW Motorsport (56 Pts)
2) Andreas Mikkelsen, VW Motorsport II (33 Pts)
3) Mads Ostberg, M-Sport (27 Pts)
4) Hayden Paddon, Hyundai Motorsport (18 Pts)
5) Dani Sordo, Hyundai Motorsport N (18 Pts)
6) Ott Tanak, DMACK (16 Pts)
7) Thierry Neuville, Hyundai Motorsport (15 Pts) 8) Stéphane Lefebvre, (10 Pts)
9) Henning Solberg, Adapta (6 Pts)
10) Elfyn Evans, M-Sport WRC2 (6 Pts)

The Constructors’ championship is a much closer affair, with Hyundai snapping at the heels of VW

Constructors Championship Standings
1) VW Motorsport (54 Pts)
2) Hyundai Motorsport (49 Pts)
3) VW Motorsport (30 Pts)
4) M-Sport (27 Pts)
5) DMACK (18 Pts)
6) Hyundai Motorsport N (14 Pts)

The next race of the season is the WRC Rally Mexico beginning on March 4th.

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Ogier continues to resist Paddon Pressure | WRC Rally Sweden Saturday Report

Sebastien Ogier continued to resist pressure from New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon on the second day of the WRC Rally Sweden as it entered Norway, for a few stages. A gap of 17.1 seconds over Paddon, followed by the Norwegian contingent of Mads Ostberg and Andreas Mikkelsen – gives him the perfect opportunity to take the honours on Sunday.

As with Friday’s running, a reduced itinerary had been planned ahead of the event, with three removed from the roster for Saturday.

Stages 12 and 16 saw drivers compete the tricky ‘Colin’s Crest’ jump, a blind peak named after the late Colin McRae, over which cars literally fly and is one of the most spectacular sights of the entire calendar.

Stages on Saturday
SS10 – Fredriksberg 1, 18.19 km
SS11 – Rämmen 1, 22.76 km
SS12 – Vargåsen 1, 24.70 km
SS13 – Fredriksberg 2, 18.9 km
SS14 – Rämmen 2, 22.76 km
SS15 – Hagfors Sprint, 1.87 km
SS16 – Vargåsen 2, 24.70 km
SS17 – Karlstad (Super-Special), 1.9km

Saturday morning’s trip through Fredriksberg saw Ogier take the quickest time, but his team mate Jari-Matti Latvala was still having a rotten time, coming home with a puncture thanks to some stones. Dani Sordo also had a tricky first stage of the day with a puncture, also on the left front, not helping his time as he came in over a minute slower than Ogier.

However, neither were as unfortunate as Eric Camilli, who went off the road in SS10 and rolled his Fiesta RS, completely destroying it, along with any hopes of points.

Kris Meeke had to retire on Friday afternoon after an encounter with a stone in the road, but was allowed to re-start under WRC2 specification on Saturday after fixing his Citroen’s steering.

Hayden Paddon kept Ogier honest through the first few stages on Saturday, and had cut the gap to 8 seconds by the mid-point, but some risky and aggressive driving from the Frenchman illustrated why he’s yet to be beaten in three years in the sport.

The fearsome Colin’s Crest peak in SS12 & 16 did not claim any casualties with all drivers navigating the jump without damage, and in fact, a new furthest jump was recorded by Norwegian Eyvind Brynildsen driving for M-Sport in a Ford Fiesta R5.

His jump of 45 metres just edges ahead of the 44m record set by Thierry Neuville at the event last year and was performed in fifth gear at roughly 165 kilometers per hour.

A high-speed moment of oversteer for Ogier could have proved disastrous in SS16, but VW’s leading driver proved his talents once more to lead the pack going in to the final day of running on Sunday.

Standings after Day 2 (SS10, 12, 14, 16-17)
1) Sebastien Ogier, VW Motorsport, Polo R, (1:52:04.7)
2) Hayden Paddon, Hyundai Motorsport, i20 (+17.1)
3) Mads Ostberg, M-Sport, Fiesta RS (+42.3)
4) Andreas Mikkelsen, VW MotorsportII, Polo R,(+1:07.4)
5) Ott Tanak, DMACK, Ford Fiesta RS (+1:31.6)
6) Dani Sordo, Hyundai Motorsport, i20 (+1:56.3)
7) Henning Solberg, Adapta, Ford Fiesta RS (+2:17.2)
8) Craig Breen, Abu Dhabi Total, DS3 (+2:0.8)
9) Elfyn Evans, M-Sport, Fiesta R5 (+4:44.7) WRC2
10) Pontus Tidemand, Skoda Motorsport, Fabia R5 (+5:02.6) WRC2

POS, Driver, Team, Car, Time/Split

Click here for Day 1 of Rally Sweden

Click here for Day 3 of Rally Sweden

Paddon hounds Ogier on Day 1 | WRC Rally Sweden Friday Report

Sebastien Ogier continued his excellent start to the 2016 WRC season on the opening day of Rally Sweden, with a lead of 26.9 seconds over Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon.

Weather worries in Sweden prompted the cancellation of the 1.9km first Super-Speical stage of the event in Karlstad, meaning that the first round occurred on Friday morning in Torsby.

Stages on Friday
SS1 – Karlstad (Super-Special), 1.9km
SS2 – Torsby 1, 16.48km
SS3 – Röjden 1, 18.47km
SS4 – Svullrya 1, 24.23km
SS5 – Kirkenær 1, 7.07km
SS6 – Kirkenær 2, 7.07km
SS7 – Svullrya 2, 24.23km
SS8 – Röjden 2, 18.47km
SS9 – Torsby 2, 16.48km

Lack of snowfall in Sweden meant that the studded Michelin tyres were not suitable to some of the roads, and so the two stages in Kirkenær were cancelled, meaning no mid-day service stop for any cars.

This was awful news for Jari-Matti Latvala, who landed awkwardly after a small bump at the end of SS2, breaking his driveshaft. The Norwegian said “I will drive, but I don’t know what spares we have in the car. Will have to have a look”.

An unseen water splash caught out his VW team mates Ogier and Mikkelsen, who both slid into some light branches after a large puddle caught them out. Neither took too much damage, although both suffered damage to the left-front wing of the car.

The Frenchman later made a mistake in SS8, missing a junction and sliding gently into a road barrier. While he escaped without damage, Kris Meeke was much less fortunate close to the end of the rally. Just like in Monte, the non-works Citroen driver hit a hidden rock buried in the middle of the corner, and completely ruined his steering, and forcing him to miss the final stage of the day.

Ogier dominated the first three stages of the day, with Meeke taking the honours in SS7, just before he broke his steering. The unexpected pace of Hayden Paddon in the new Hyundai i20 caused a scare for the leader at the end of the day though, and while the Frenchman went off, Paddon capitalised and took the fastest times of the day in the final two stages to close up into second place.

Standings after Day 1(SS2-4, 7-9)

1) Sebastien Ogier, VW Motorsport Polo R, 1:03:10.6
2) Hayden Paddon, Hyundai Motorsport, i20, +26.9
3) Mads Ostberg, M-Sport, Fiesta RS, +33.7
4) Ott Tanak, DMACK, Fiesta RS, +34.8
5) Dani Sordo, Hyundai Motorsport, i20,  +38.2
6) Andreas Mikkelsen, VW Motorsport II, Polo R +42.0
7) Henning Solberg, Adapta, Fiesta RS +1:36.9
8) Craig Breen, Abu Dhabi Total, DS3, +1:38.8
9) Eric Camilli, M-Sport, Fiesta RS, +2:43.5
10) Lorenzo Bertelli, FWRT, Fiesta RS, +3:08.6

POS) Driver, Team, Car, Time/split
*Note, only top 10 positions are shown

Click here for Day 2 of Rally Sweden