Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia snatched victory in the very last stage at Rally Jordan this weekend. The Citroën Total World Rally Team crew won by two-tenths of a second – the narrowest margin ever recorded in a WRC round.
Meanwhile, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, who came third, have now taken the overall lead in the Drivers’ World Championship and Citroën is locked in a dead-heat for first place in the Manufacturers’ World Championship.
With 115km of special stages, the second day of Rally Jordan looked like being a hotly-contested one between the four drivers in the running for victory: Sébastien Ogier, Sébastien Loeb, Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg.
Loeb set the fastest time in Yakrut (SS13), but Jari-Matti Latvala’s all-out attack pushed the seven-time world champion back to third. At the midday service break, Ogier was still leading the rally, with some 20 seconds in hand over Latvala: “I set off at a fast pace in the first stage but, when I saw Loeb’s time, I knew I had to push harder in the next ones. We managed to make the best of it, as we’d still had a lead. It was not a big enough cushion, though. I had to go ‘pedal to the metal’ right till the end to win the rally.”
After losing around 10 seconds when a wheel came off a rim in SS15, Solberg went off in SS17 and retired. This meant that, barring unexpected incidents, Ogier, Latvala and Loeb were assured of a place on the podium.
By winning three stages in succession (SS17-19) Jari-Matti Latvala closed the gap to Ogier and took the lead just before the Power Stage. Loeb decided it was better to settle for third and lifted off. This left only Latvala and Ogier locked in battle for victory. They both gave their all in the final stage. The Citroën Total World Rally Team members could not believe their eyes when they saw their driver setting the fastest time and beating his rival by just 0.2sec!
“Sébastien Ogier continues to surprise us. This victory was a really exceptional performance from both Seb and the DS3 WRC, which again put on a stunning display in terms of speed and reliability,” said Olivier Quesnel, the Citroën Racing Team Principal. “We’re also delighted with Sébastien Loeb’s performance, as he was in a tricky situation because of his position on the road. This podium has put him in the lead of the Drivers’ World Championship, and that’s the most important thing.”
A delighted Ogier said: “Despite the fact that we were pushing like crazy, Jari-Matti gave us a hard time over the weekend. He banged in incredible times and we almost felt that there was nothing we could do about it. Thanks to the reversed order in the final stage, sweeping had no influence and we were able to do battle on an equal footing. It was tough, but we never stopped thinking we could win, and Lady Luck smiled on us. It’s hardly believable to win the rally by such a tiny margin, but we’ve bagged the maximum amount of points with the Power Stage bonus. That’s put us back in the title hunt for the rest of the season.”