Wales Rally GB leader Sébastien Ogier was held up after stopping midway through the treacherously slippery Dyfnant stage when Thierry Neuville rolled.Neuville’s Hyundai i20 was upside down in the road 9.1km into the stage. Ogier stopped after being flagged down by the Belgian’s co-driver, Nicolas Gilsoul, as spectators tried to move the car.
“He was blocking the road so we had to stop for some time. The co-driver told us to stop completely. They managed to move the car and we carried on,” explained Ogier.
Rally officials examined the onboard video footage from Ogier’s Volkswagen Polo R to see how long he was stationary before adjusting his stage time by 31sec – enough for the Frenchman to be credited with fastest time.
Ogier was then fastest through the following Aberhirnant by 3.3sec from Kris Meeke’s DS 3. With just the short Chirk Castle stage remaining before the end of a long morning, Ogier led Meeke by 28.9sec.
Conditions worsened further as the rain continued. “There was a lot of water in there, I was aquaplaning in sixth gear,” explained Meeke after Aberhirnant.
Andreas Mikkelsen retained third, 28.3sec behind Meeke, despite a broken rear right damper on his Polo R after puncturing when he hit a hole earlier. Despite that he won the Dyfnant stage.
Mads Østberg’s stay in fourth lasted just one stage. The Norwegian went off the road in Dyfnant and lost 90sec, dropping to eighth. It promoted Ott Tänak to fourth and the Estonian Ford Fiesta RS driver was 8.2sec ahead of Dani Sordo in fifth.
Hayden Paddon completed the top six despite a head-on collision with Martin Prokop after both took the wrong route following Aberhirnant. The Kiwi, who also had a gearshift problem, continued with a damaged i20 but Prokop retired his Fiesta RS.