Sebastien Ogier has extended his lead at the top of the FIA World Rally Championship standings by claiming a last-gasp victory in Rally Sweden today.
The iconic snowy stages played host to one of the most exciting finishes to a WRC event in years as Ogier, Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen entered the final stage separated by just 4.6 seconds in total.
All three drivers had led the rally at some point over the past four days, but it was Mikkelsen who appeared to be poised to clinch his first ever WRC win as they entered the 21st and final stage of the rally.
However, the Dane came unstuck on the final 15.9km stage after getting bogged down on a snow bank, costing him half a minute. He eventually had to settle for third place in the final classification.
Ogier took full advantage of Mikkelsen’s error to clinch his second win of the year, following on from his victory at the first event of the year in Monte Carlo. The final gap to Neuville at the flag was 6.4 seconds.
“This was one of the most exciting WRC events,” Ogier said. “It’s a crazy win because I had to push flat out from the beginning of the rally to the end.
“My first win here two years ago was a hard fight, but I had to play everything here in the final stage and it was a fantastic end. Andreas did a great job and he’s very young so we’ll have many more future battles.”
Disappointed to have squandered his opportunity, Mikkelsen was a man of few words following the rally.
“We gave it all in the last stage, but there was a bank full of snow and we were stuck,” he said. “We tried and hopefully we’ll get more luck next time.”
The WRC resumes in three weeks time with Rally Mexico.