Final-stage drama spells another victory for two-time World Champion, as young Norwegian teammate fails heroically.
Sebastien Ogier claimed the most remarkable victory of his already-illustrious World Rally Championship career on Rally Sweden, as Volkswagen teammate Andreas Mikkelsen spun away his lead on the very last stage.
Mikkelsen began the stage 3s ahead of Ogier, with just the 15.87 powerstage of Varmullsasen remaining.
Mikkelsen was entering the final section of the stage when he clipped a bank on a left-hander, and almost corrected the slide before he nosed into the snow bank again, and required help from the spectators to push him back on the road.
“We gave it our all,” he sighed, and finished 39.8s behind the winner in third.
Ogier was told of Mikkelsen’s spin by reporters after completing the stage.
“I was flat-out, flat-out from the beginning to the end,” said Ogier. “An amazing victory. So happy, so proud.”
Despite starting the day as the rally leader, Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville slipped back to third in the overall standings as the Volkswagens turned up the wick.
An intercom problem caused a trip into a snow bank this morning, costing him time, but Mikkelsen’s spin meant he was promoted back to second. He finished 6.4s behind Ogier.
“I was maximum, I took big risks and there was no chance to drive faster,” said Neuville. “This weekend has been like a wake-up for the team.”
M-Sport’s Ott Tanak finished fourth in his Ford Fiesta, ahead of the second Hyundai of New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon. Elfyn Evans claimed sixth in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta.
Citroen’s Kris Meeke spun on a fast right-hander in the powerstage, trying to jump ahead of fellow Briton Evans, but still finished ahead of Martin Prokop.