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.