WRC: Ogier claims thrilling win at Rally Sweden

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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.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.