Despite the earlier date Wales Rally GB supplied classic slippy forest stages with some spectacular tarmac kilometres thrown in the mix as well. The championship battle is really heating up and after a rollercoaster of a weekend for all 3 contenders it is clear all WRC contenders can have an effect on the outcome this year. But let’s take a look at how each one did in the Welsh forests.
From a championship point of view this was a near perfect weekend for the reigning champion. However a possibly self-inflicted gearbox problem made it more difficult than it should have been, and it is very doubtable he could have fought with the Tanak’s Toyota even without problems.
Home hero looking to replicate last year’s performance Elfyn made a good start Friday to be nearest to Tanak’s pace. Terrible fortune would fall upon him however putting him into super rally with no gains to be made.
Sunninen was another to make an excellent start Friday morning. Following Evans’ demise the young Finn found himself in a podium position. From there though the decline was quick with a poor stage 8 followed by an accident damaging the roll cage. An unfortunate accident that lost points as well as valuable experience on super Saturdays stages.
Rally GB saw flashes of the Latvala we all love to see, the biggest flash of them all coming on Sunday’s power stage beating his competition at the time Ogier by 5.3 seconds. In the end the speed just wasn’t there consistently enough for him to win the event however the charismatic Finn should be happy with the recent upturn in form and the job he is doing for the team.
Faultless performance from Lappi bringing a large point haul back to the team. Saw off a challenge from Breen in the last day however was never quite able to battle for the lead.
The images of Ott laid down on a gravel road hands on head were crushing for any fans to see. Fastest from first stage Friday he looked to be doing everything right and all discussions Saturday morning were how Ott must now be favourite for the championship. A hole in Sweet Lamb managed to bury the Toyota’s sump guard into the ground, Ott has little choice but to try and win the last two rounds in hope that it is enough while Toyota engineers will rush to ensure a reliable car for the Estonian.
I’m not sure we’ll ever know quite how competitively Citroen were at this year’s Rally GB. Craig drove consistently well in a low road position to almost be in winning contention on Sunday. However an average stage 19 Sunday morning and a spin in the power stage resided Craig just outside the podium positions.
A strange weekend for Mads struggling with setup on Friday putting him over a minute behind the lead. However some incredible stage times saw him leading all 3 Hyundai’s at the end of day 2. All of this before eventually falling behind all of them again in a scrappy Sunday.
Managed to solve setup issues to finish in 2nd at the end of Friday. Seeming to have the championship on his mind most expected a steady push to ensure a podium from Thierry however a rare mistake this season lost him 50 seconds and he was fortunate spectators were there to help. Help from teammates and a scrappy Mads Ostberg means he still holds the title lead with 2 rounds to go.
Admitted on Friday afternoon to not having the pace and you could argue that was the case in the Hyundai cars in general. Took advantage of Saturday’s road position to finish the event a Hyundai team point scorer.
Arguably fell behind on Saturday by having a slightly better Friday then Mads and Andreas but another Hyundai to struggle for grip. Hayden will be hoping for a strong round out to the season in Australia.