Ogier ends Loebs Rally Germany winning streak
- 22nd August 2011, 9:02am
Sebastien Ogier has claimed his first victory on a Tarmac-round of the World Rally Championship by winning ADAC Rallye Deutschland, which finished in the historic city of Trier earlier today.
Driving a Citroen DS3 WRC, Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia began Sunday’s closing five stages with an advantage of 1m11.3s over team-mate Sebastien Loeb, who slipped back when he suffered a front-left puncture on Saturday’s final test.
By adopting a cautious approach, particularly through the second rain-hit Dhrontal run, Ogier was able to maintain a comfortable margin over Loeb, who was fastest on nine stages - including the rally-closing Power Stage - in his efforts to make up lost ground alongside co-driver Daniel Elena.
Ogier’s triumph ends Loeb’s run of eight-straight victories in Germany and elevates the French ace into second position in the drivers’ standings, 25 points behind Loeb with four rounds of this enthralling WRC season remaining.
In the manufacturers’ championship, Citroen, which has won the last eight rounds of the 2011 campaign, is now 89 points clear of Ford. It has also moved ahead of the Blue Oval on the list of all-time WRC event winners with 78 victories.
Loeb had never been beaten in Germany since the country joined the world championship in 2002. He recovered from his puncture to finish second, one place ahead of Dani Sordo who secured MINI’s maiden world championship podium following a strong display. Mikko Hirvonen was the leading Ford driver in fourth in his Fiesta RS WRC.
“My team-mate is so strong on this rally so to get the victory and the extra points in the Power Stage is a very good result,” said Ogier. “Mathematically the championship is still possible and I have to believe I have a chance. As long as there is a chance then I am going to try.”
Loeb said: “For sure I really like to win in Germany but I cannot be perfect every time and every year I say that one day it will stop and it stopped this time. I was unlucky yesterday but I tried my best.”
Sordo began Sunday’s stages 33.1s clear of Hirvonen in his John Cooper Works WRC. Despite Hirvonen’s advances - the Finn was quickest on stage 15 - Sordo was able to secure the final podium spot, which marked the first for his navigator Carlos del Barrio, with the Ford driver’s outside hopes faltering when he picked up a front-left puncture on the Power Stage.
While Sordo celebrated, there was late despair for his team-mate Kris Meeke, whose MINI ground to a halt with a suspected alternator failure on the penultimate stage. The Briton was fifth at the start of the day but a puncture and a brief off-road moment dropped him behind Petter Solberg, who overshot a junction on stage 18.
Solberg was delayed by a spate of punctures earlier in the event but persevered to secure fifth spot and the final Power Stage bonus point in his privately-run Citroen.
Kimi Raikkonen finished sixth in his ICE 1 Racing Citroen despite front-left punctures on stages 17 and 19. “There were too many mistakes and I didn’t drive many stages well,” said the 2007 Formula One title winner. “It’s behind me now.”
M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta driver Henning Solberg’s bid to beat Raikkonen was hampered by a handbrake glitch on Sunday morning and a lack of confidence on soft compound tyres used on the day’s opening loop of stages. He settled for seventh, one place ahead of Armindo Araujo, who scored his first world championship points of 2011 in his Motorsport Italia MINI John Cooper Works WRC.
“I made some mistakes but we are still learning this car and improving it for the future,” said the Portuguese driver. “We still need to make more kilometres but eighth overall is a perfect result.”
Peter van Merksteijn Jr claimed his first WRC points in ninth in his privateer Citroen following a solid display alongside stand-in co-driver Erwin Mombaerts. “I’m really happy after all the trouble we have had this season,” said the Dutchman. “It is a good result and it can only go better from now on.”
Dennis Kuipers battled back from his puncture on Saturday to clinch the final championship point for the Dutch FERM Power Tools World Rally Team operation. “I am a bit disappointed but happy with my performance because we set some good times. We had some bad luck but it’s part of the game,” said Kuipers, who was comfortably clear of 11th-placed Matthew Wilson. Ott Tanak was the leading Super 2000 World Rally Championship finisher in 12th.
Jari-Matti Latvala restarted on Sunday morning under SupeRally regulations following his crash on Saturday’s final test. He was second fastest on stage 15 and fastest on stage 16 to underline the potential of his factory Fiesta on gravel. However, a puncture on stage 17 compounded a frustrating event for the Ford driver, who fought back to 14th, one place behind Volkswagen Motorsport driver Hans Weijs, who impressed in his Super 2000 Skoda Fabia.
Mads Ostberg, out of contention after damaging his M-Sport Stobart Fiesta’s suspension on Friday’s third stage, went off on stage 15 before crashing heavily on the subsequent test as a result of an incorrect pace note.
Aaron Burkart was slowed on stage 15 when his Fiesta’s windscreen wipers failed on the rain-hit test. A puncture caused the German driver further delay on the Power Stage. Corsican youngster Pierre Campana was 18th on his debut in a MINI WRC.
Leading finishers after SS19: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Sebastien Ogier Citroen 3h32m15.9s 2. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 39.8s 3. Dani Sordo Mini + 1m55.6s 4. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 2m43.7s 5. Petter Solberg Solberg Citroen + 3m48.0s 6. Kimi Raikkonen Ice 1 Citroen + 7m24.6s 7. Henning Solberg Stobart Ford + 7m45.9s 8. Armindo Araujo Italia Mini + 9m29.8s 9. Peter van Merksteijn Van Merksteijn Citroen + 10m01.6s 10. Dennis Kuipers FERM Ford + 10m09.0s Other WRC finishers: 11. Matthew Wilson Stobart Ford + 11m31.7s 14. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 17m20.4s 17. Ken Block Monster Ford + 19m45.6s 23. Aaron Burkart Stobart Ford + 29m20.2s WRC retirements: Kris Meeke Mini SS18 Daniel Oliveira Brazil Mini SS18 Mads Ostberg Stobart Ford SS16 Rene Kuipers FERM Ford SS14 Power stage results: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 3m17.4s 2. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 2.0s 3. Petter Solberg Solberg Citroen + 3.0s 4. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 3.0s 5. Dani Sordo Mini + 5.5s
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