Ogier edges out Neuville in GB qualifying
Frenchman is fastest in qualifying for Wales Rally GB
Sebastien Ogier won what is likely to be the WRC’s last qualifying stage at Wales Rally GB after edging out Thierry Neuville by seven hundredths of a second.
In wild weather, the Frenchman was fastest through the 3.11km Llandegla stage in his Volkswagen Polo R and earned first pick of his start position for tonight’s opening leg during the selection process this afternoon.
Qualifying is set to be scrapped for 2014 and conditions this morning were extremely unpleasant as hail, heavy rain and fierce winds brought typical Rally GB weather for the narrow but fast forest test.
Ogier was unconcerned and told wrc.com at the finish: “Sometimes conditions mean it’s an advantage to be first on the road and today it wasn’t a disadvantage. The grip was good, in fact the rain helped with the grip and it’s OK to be first through.”
Neuville, who aims to secure the runners-up spot in the championship, was disappointed not to beat the 2013 champion in his Ford Fiesta RS. “It wasn’t my best stage. I tried to push hard near the end but lost a few tenths near the start when I was too careful in places,” said the Belgian.
Ogier and Neuville were significantly faster than anyone else. Evgeny Novikov shrugged off a crash while testing in north-west England last week to post third fastest time in his Fiesta RS, but the Russian was 1.8sec behind Ogier.
Jari-Matti Latvala, who is fighting Neuville for second in the championship, was 2.1sec down in fourth, the Finn unsure whether softening the set-up of his Polo R since the pre-event test brought any benefit.
“I was too careful. I wasn’t confident enough and slowed in the faster sections. I’ve changed the set-up since my test. It was too hard before but I think I had better grip then,” he explained.
Mads Ostberg and Mikko Hirvonen completed the top six, but Hirvonen was not happy. “I didn’t have a good feeling, it’s not a good start,” said the Citroen DS3 pilot.
Robert Kubica was seventh on his World Rally Car debut, the Pole satisfied with his performance but admitting he ‘had a lot to learn’.
Qualifying times were:
1. Sebastien Ogier 1min 52.708sec
2. Thierry Neuville + 0.070
3. Evgeny Novikov + 1.889
4. Jari-Matti Latvala + 2.168
5. Mads Ostberg + 2.759
6. Mikko Hirvonen + 2.979
7. Robert Kubica + 3.381
8. Dani Sordo + 3.483
9. Andreas Mikkelsen + 3.732
10 Martin Prokop + 6.183
11 Michal Solowow + 12.115
add_circle Breaking news: Sordo secures Italian double
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