It was down to the final few meters when Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia secured victory in the Swedish Rally. The French Volkswagen duo came through to defeat Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (F/F, Hyundai) and their Volkswagen team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) in a close three-way battle.
This was Volkswagen’s 24th victory in its 28th rally, and podiums 45 and 46 since the Polo R WRC made its debut. The Hyundai Motorsport team stepped onto the WRC podium for the fourth time in its short history.
This three-car thriller had gathered momentum right through to just a few kilometers from the finish, with the lead changing hands regularly until the three protagonists went into the final showdown separated by just 4.6 seconds.
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“An unbelievable finale. I am incredibly proud of this win. It is certainly one of my best. The first victory in Sweden two years ago, when I beat Sébastien Loeb, was fantastic, but this was even harder-fought. Julien and I gave everything here, from day one right through to the Power Stage. We drove as hard as possible, and it paid off in the end. It was certainly one of the most thrilling and exciting ends to a rally – not just for the fans, but also of my career. I obviously feel sorry for Andreas, who came so close to his first win and was involved in an extremely intense battle with us. However, I am sure that this is not the last time we will be duelling for victory. He and Thierry Neuville produced impressive performances.”
This was WRC victory number 26 for Sébastien Ogier, who drew level with the legendary Carlos Sainz. Ogier is now third in the list of all-time greats. Furthermore, Ogier and Ingrassia are the only central European duo to have won the Rally Sweden twice. For Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene, third place meant a second podium in a row at the Rally Sweden.
Neuville took the first stage win of the season for Hyundai on Friday and was placed second at the end of the opening day. He then added a further two stages wins on Saturday to take the lead as the penultimate day came to an end. In Saturday’s final stage, he also jumped 44m to break the legendary Colin’s Crest Award record.
Neuville said: “What a rally this has been! We have not had such a close battle for the victory for a long time and it has been great to be a part of such a thrilling finale. Nobody really expected us to be challenging for the win here, so it has been a brilliant performance. Of course, I pushed hard to get the win, taking quite a few risks, and I could honestly not have done more. A second place is still a very nice result for me and for everyone in the team, who have worked hard.”
FIA World Rally Championship (WRC),
Rally Sweden – Final Results
1. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen 2h 55m 30.5s
2. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai + 6.4s
3. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), Volkswagen + 39.8s
4. Ott Tänak/Raigo Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford + 2m 26.0s
5. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai + 3m 31.5s
6. Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (GB/GB), Ford + 3m 53.0s
7. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL), Citroën + 4m 05.8s
8. Martin Prokop/Jan Tománek (CZ/CZ), Ford + 4m 26.0s
9. Yurii Protasov/Pavlo Cherepin (UA/UA), Citroën + 5m 32.2s
10. Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S), Citroën + 6m 50.9s