MOTORSPORT NEWS Rally

Ogier comfortable in Rally GB lead

 Sebastien Ogier completed Saturday’s opening loop of speed tests at Wales Rally GB with a comfortable lead in his Volkswagen Polo R.He completed the fan-friendly Chirk Castle parkland stage with a 1min 10.1sec advantage, the Frenchman relaxed after the pressure on his lead was removed in the morning’s opening test when team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala slithered off the muddy gravel road and into a ditch.
VW GB

“The battle with Jari-Matti was enjoyable and exciting. Now the gap is quite comfortable but in these conditions it’s easy to make a mistake,” said Ogier, whose speed was so measured that he set just one time in the top seven during the five stages.

Behind Ogier, there was a thrilling three-car fight for second. Mikko Hirvonen held the advantage in his Ford Fiesta RS after Latvala’s crash, but Mads Østberg put together a string of good times in his Citroen DS3 to move ahead of the Finn in Chirk Castle by 0.7sec.

Kris Meeke, who stalled his engine earlier in the morning, was a further 0.7sec behind and the battling trio pulled clear of Thierry Neuville’s Hyundai i20 in fifth.

Mads Østberg – up to second

Elfyn Evans delighted the Welsh fans by holding sixth in a Fiesta RS, ahead of Estonian Ott Tänak. Henning Solberg was fastest in Chirk Castle en route to eighth, with Martin Prokop and Latvala completing the leaderboard, the Finn struggling with a broken damper after his crash.

Road opener Andreas Mikkelsen enjoyed the best of the conditions in the increasingly slippery forests and was fastest through the first four stages in his Polo R.

In WRC 2, Jari Ketomaa led by 56.5sec from Bernardo Sousa, with title favourite Nasser Al-Attiyah up to seventh, which would be sufficient for the Qatari to claim the support category title.

Alastair Fisher headed the JWRC standings by 1min 06.3sec from Martin Koči, with Henry Haapamäki third, a further 9.7sec behind, on his series debut.