The Rally Wrap: Ogier wins at home while Hagenau misses hometown hero

DAY 1

SS 1 Strasbourg – Power Stage

Rally de France-Alsace, in a break from convention, started with the power stage. Thierry Neuville had to win the stage and pick up maximum points to keep the Championship from Sebastien Ogier’s grasp.While, Dani Sordo picks up from where he left in Germany and wins the Power Stage helping Ogier, who finishes third, to be crowned the World Rally Championship Driver’s title.

SS1

“I’m so happy!” said a delighted Ogier at the finish control. “Before the stage I was a bit confused about whether it would happen, but we’re here and we managed to do it!”

“Eight years we’ve worked for this!” added his co-driver Julien Ingrassia.

Stage Winner: D. SORDO / C. DEL BARRIO

DAY 2

SS2 Klevener

The stage with a vineyard looks quite similar to the ones in Germany. Sebastien Loeb seems to get back in rhythm, after the 5 month hiatus from rallying, and wins the stages.

Motorsport / World Rally Championship / Rallye de France 2013

“A good start, I tried to push very hard and the feeling was good. It was dry and not a difficult stage. I hope I can continue safely like this” said Loeb after clocking a blistering time and climbing from seventh to the second position

Stage Winner: S. LOEB / D. ELENA

SS3 Massif des Grands Crus – Ungersberg

The stage will always be remembered for Petter Solberg’s electrifying crash in 2012

The rain was forecasted to arrive on Sunday but surprised by taking part in the rally so early and the hard compound tyres were not helping the drivers either. Loeb unperturbed went on with business, as he has over a decade now, and won the stage moving him to second place and just 0.2 seconds behind Sordo.

Stage Winner: S. LOEB / D. ELENA

SS 4 Vosges – Pays d’Ormont 1

The longest stage of the rally and one of Loeb’s favourites and he shows why by winning the stage.  The Frenchman may be ending his WRC career but the drive remains.

SS4Stage Winner: S. LOEB / D. ELENA

SS5 Klevener

The drivers repeat stages two, three and four to complete the six stages for Day 2, starting at Klevener again. With the weather becoming unpredictable, tyre strategies were on table and Thierry Neuville got it right, bravely going on hards in overcast conditions, winning the stage.

SS5

“I was absolutely flat out everywhere, it was a good choice, I felt comfortable, and I hope it’s enough for the fastest time” said the confident Belgian at the end of the stage. 

Stage Winner: T. NEUVILLE / N. GILSOUL

SS6 Massif des Grands Crus – Ungersberg

Thierry Neuville shows us why he is the driver that everybody is chasing for the 2014 season. The Belgian wins the stage and takes lead of the rally.

Stage Winner: T. NEUVILLE / N. GILSOUL

SS7 Vosges – Pays d’Ormont

Thierry Neuville wraps up the day with a third consecutive stage win in a day of hat-tricks, and takes overnight lead of the French Rally.

SS7

Stage Winner: T. NEUVILLE / N. GILSOUL

DAY 3

SS8 Hohlandsbourg – Firstplan

Ogier confessed that he couldn’t get enough sleep in the excitement of winning his maiden title and was not at his best on Day 2. All that had died down and the Champion bounced back with a stage win.

Stage Winner: S. OGIER / J. INGRASSIA

SS9 Vallée de Munster

The VWs make the move on this stage with Jari-Matti Latvala taking second position from Sordo and Ogier moving ahead of Loeb, who loses time after a spin on the stage.

SS9

“I spun in a little hairpin and had to reverse two times, it cost me about 10 seconds,” Loeb explained.

Stage Winner: S. OGIER / J. INGRASSIA

SS10 Soultzeren – Pays Welche 1

The nine-time World Champion adds to his endless list of records, the 900th Stage win of his WRC career.

SS10

Stage Winner: S. LOEB / D. ELENA

SS11 Hohlandsbourg – Firstplan

Disaster strikes the Belgian driver; a rear-left tyre punctures squashes all hopes of a first rally win.

“We slid slightly wide in a right-hand junction and hit something, a stone or something. It pushed the tyre off the rim, it deflated and then it was finished. It’s not possible to win any more,” Neuville said.

After a sleepy Friday, Ogier takes his third stage win, but Sordo with his consistent run through the stages shows he is the gravel master, taking lead of the rally.

Stage Winner: S. OGIER / J. INGRASSIA

SS12 Vallée de Munster

“Of course I push. Ever since yesterday afternoon I try to push and we have to carry on. It’s a really nice fight. I said before the start there were five guys able to fight for victory and that’s what happened” summarised the Champion.

SS12

Stage Winner: S. OGIER / J. INGRASSIA

SS13 Soultzeren – Pays Welche

The rain had entered the rally fair and square, Loeb at the end of the said, “It was raining like hell in there, so bad we were aquaplaning.”

Stage Winner: T. NEUVILLE / N. GILSOUL

SS14 Mulhouse

One of the smaller stages of the Rally, Latvala leads the rally at the end of Day 3 while Ogier finishes the day with a win. The rally tantalisingly positioned with the top four drivers separated by just five seconds.

DAY 4

SS15 Vignoble de Cleebourg

One kilometre into the stage the former champion Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena exited WRC saying “Ca va, tres bon… tres bon…” while rolling out of the race  in the Citroen DS3. Meanwhile the current champion takes lead of Rally France for the first time in four days.

SS15

Stage Winner: S. OGIER / J. INGRASSIA

SS16 Bischwiller – Gries

The rains and mud on the track making driving difficult for the drivers , Ogier takes total control and is now setting the pace of the rally.

“There’s no secret to the speed – I was just pushing,” said a gritty Ogier at the finish control.

Stage Winner: S. OGIER / J. INGRASSIA

SS17 Haguenau

Rally reached the home of its favourite son, Sebastien Loeb, albeit without him. The crowds that had gathered for one final look at their hometown hero were hugely disappointed.

“I started flat out because it was a close situation. We were fourth, fighting for the victory, but it didn’t go as I planned…” said the Hagenau boy.

Stage Winner: S. OGIER / J. INGRASSIA

SS18 Vignoble de Cleebourg

Sordo puts up a fight by winning the stage and reducing the gap between him and Ogier to ten seconds. Unfortunately for Citroen both their manufacturing winning drivers were under the weather and the third driver was in contention for a podium finish.

SS18

Stage Winner: D. SORDO / C. DEL BARRIO

SS19 Bischwiller – Gries

With under fourteen kilometres left in the Alsace rally, Ogier with a comfortable ten second lead does the sensible thing of driving within limits and is now on the way to win an incident free, perfectly driven rally to its desired end

Stage Winner: J. LATVALA / M. ANTTILA

SS20 Haguenau

Rallye de France-Alsace is won by world champion Sebastien Ogier, making it his seventh win for the season.

SS20

“There has been so much emotion this weekend,” said the Frenchman “After the excitement of winning the title on Thursday, it was difficult to get back into the race. But we couldn’t stay like that all weekend and decided to react yesterday. We pushed to the maximum then and this morning we soon made a gap at the front. Then we had to bring the car home, which wasn’t easy in the rain and mud. We started the story from zero with Volkswagen last year, and now we’re close to the manufacturers’ title as well,” he added.

Stage Winner: T. NEUVILLE / N. GILSOUL

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