Sebastien Ogier scored his fourth World Rally Championship title with victory on Rally Catalunya in his Volkswagen Polo WRC, his 37th win in the WRC to draw level with Finnish drivers Juha Kankunnen and Tommi Makinen for overall championship successes.
Ogier had taken the lead of the event on Friday morning, but trailed Hyundai's Dani Sordo by the end of the first day as the Spaniard made the most of a favourable road position to move into a 17-second lead with two gravel stage wins in the afternoon. With cars then changed to tarmac settings in a 75 minute service period, Sordo added slightly to his lead in his i20 WRC, but was then reeled in by Ogier who set about hounding down the rally leader.
The Frenchman's title bid was then aided by an error from his team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, who dramatically crashed out of third place on SS12 after clipping a barrier and rolling his Polo R WRC onto its roof. Mikkelsen had been Ogier's nearest challenger in the championship, but his demise meant Ogier needed only to score a point to claim a fourth-successive crown.
But he didn't let up and instead pushed on to move back ahead of Sordo overall. He then extended his advantage on the first running of Sunday's loop and cruised through the second to win by 15.6s and cement the title for himself and co-driver Julien Ingrassia - a year after crashing out of the rally on the final Duesaigues stage.
While Sordo was unable to keep pace with Ogier, he nevertheless equalled his best result of the season with second, finishing the best part of a minute clear of his Hyundai team-mates. Thierry Neuville beat Hayden Paddon to the final podium spot, with Paddon securing his best result to date on a tarmac rally, as the pair ended the event separated by 12.8s.
Kris Meeke had started the final day in fifth, but retired on Sunday morning's first stage with an engine problem promoting M-Sport's Mads Ostberg to a lonely fifth, who in turn was well clear of the similar DMACK Ford Fiesta of Ott Tanak - who had won the opening stage of the rally.
Behind them, Kevin Abbring sealed his best finish in the WRC with seventh, having enjoyed a trouble-free run throughout the weekend. Craig Breen broke his driveshaft on Saturday morning but was able to continue after making it back to service and recovered to score the final point in his Citroen DS3, finishing behind respective leading WRC2 runners Jan Kopecky and Pontus Tidemand in their works Skoda Fabia R5s.
Jari-Matti Latvala was fast all weekend in the third Volkswagen Polo R and won Sunday's powerstage, but only after he had retired from the rally on Friday afternoon after breaking his suspension in a crash before rejoining on Saturday.
Rally Catalunya Results after SS19:
Position .... Driver .... Teams .... Time
1. Ogier/Ingrassia Volkswagen Motorsport Volkswagen 3h13m03.6s
2. Sordo/Marti Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai +15.6s
3. Neuville/Gilsoul Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai +1m15.0s
4. Paddon/Kennard Hyundai Motorsport N Hyundai +1m27.8s
5. Ostberg/Floene M-Sport World Rally Team Ford +3m24.4s
6. Tanak/Molder DMACK World Rally Team Ford +5m24.9s
7. Abbring/Marshall Hyundai Motorsport N Hyundai +7m31.3s
8. Kopecky/Dresler Skoda Motorsport Skoda +9m05.1s
9. Tidemand/Andersson Skoda Motorsport Skoda +9m20.4s
10. Breen/Martin Abu Dhabi Total WRT Citroen +9m57.1s
World Rally Championship Positions
1 Sebastien Ogier 222
2 Andreas Mikkelsen 127
3 Thierry Neuville 127
4 Hayden Paddon 114
5 Dani Sordo 111
6 Jari-Matti Latvala 104
7 Mads Ostberg 90
8 Ott Tanak 61
9 Kris Meeke 54
10 Craig Breen 36
17th October, 2016
Sébastien Ogier won the 10th round of the 2016 WRC by 46.4sec in his Volkswagen Polo R and in doing so requires just 16 more points from the next round in Spain to become only the fourth person to win four drivers' titles. Thierry Neuville finished second in his Hyundai i20 with Andreas Mikkelsen third in a Polo R, a further 23.6sec back following 390.92km of gruelling asphalt mountain roads on the Mediterranean island of Corsica.
Ogier stamped his authority on the rally with a clean sweep of stage wins on Friday's opening leg, enabling him to measure his pace through the final two days, when wet roads made conditions tricky, to secure his fourth win of the year. Neuville held second from midway through the opening leg, despite worries over his car's handling. Mikkelsen was hot on his heels until improvements to Neuville's differential enabled the Belgian to pull clear and climb to third in the drivers' standings.
Mikkelsen was one of many to struggle with overheating tyres and brakes in the high temperatures but the Norwegian eased to his first podium since winning in Poland in July. Latvala, who won in Corsica in 2015, finished a frustrated fourth. Brake problems hindered the Finn for the opening two days and it was only when new pads and changes to his Polo R's set-up were introduced today that he felt comfortable in the stages.
Craig Breen excelled on his asphalt debut in a World Rally Car to finish fifth in a Citroën DS 3 ahead of Hayden Paddon, inexperienced on sealed surfaces and disappointed with his driving. A first day puncture hampered Dani Sordo, relegating him from third to an eventual seventh. The Ford Fiesta RS trio of Eric Camilli, Mads Østberg and Ott Tänak filled the rest of the leader board.
Kris Meeke won both Sunday's tests, taking maximum bonus points in the live TV Power Stage, but finished 16th after crashing late on. Round 11 of the WRC is in Spain, the only mixed surface rally of the year, Rally de España based in Salou is on 13 - 16 October.
4th October, 2016
Sebastien Ogier has established a comfortable lead over Kris Meeke on the first morning of ERC Corsica, the French round of the World Rally Championship. Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo had stayed within 4.8 seconds of Ogier's pace and Thierry Neuville also matched the world champion before experiencing fading brakes.
At the end of SS1 Ogier thought his pace notes had been too conservative so raised his game on the next stage, Plage du Liamone ? Sarrola-Carcopino, posting a time 8s quicker than second-quickest man Neuville on that one left Ogier 14.7s clear of Meeke overall heading for the midday regroup.mThe fight for second is covered by 4.2s - Meeke, Neuville and Sordo but Ogier's VW team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen and Jari-Matti Latvala started badly on SS1 but improved on SS2, where he was third quickest and moved back up from eighth to sixth overall behind Hayden Paddon.
Latvala's chosen set-upset-up for his Polo wasn't working and in addition he admitted to lacking rhythm and confidence, finishing the morning in seventh ahead of Craig Breen. The M-Sport Fords have again lacked pace - Mads Ostberg and Eric Camilli closely matched but a long way off their rivals in ninth and 10th - while Ott Tanak quickly resigned himself to a tough weekend with DMACK's asphalt tyre. The Estonian is behind the R5-spec cars of Elfyn Evans and Jan Kopecky in 13th.
Top Ten Positions after SS2:
Pos .... Driver .... Car .... Time .... Gap
1. Ogier/Ingrassia Volkswagen 49m03.7s
2. Meeke/Nagle Citroen 49m18.4s 14.7s
3. Neuville/Gilsoul Hyundai 49m21.2s 17.5s
4. Sordo/Marti Hyundai 49m22.6s 18.9s
5. Paddon/Kennard Hyundai 49m33.4s 29.7s
6. Mikkelsen/Jager Volkswagen 49m34.2s 30.5s
7. Latvala/Anttila Volkswagen 49m35.8s 32.1s
8. Breen/Martin Citroen 49m38.2s 34.5s
9. Ostberg/Floene Ford 50m07.6s m 1m03.9s
10. Camilli/Veillas Ford 50m08.1s 1m04.4s
30th September, 2016
At this year's Rallyday, organisers have arranged a special tribute to Gloucestershire businessman and rallying legend David Stokes, who sadly passed away in February after a long battle with cancer.
David was a six-time British national rally champion in a career that spanned over 50 years and started in the 1960's with David completing the whole Motoring News road rally series in a 1500 cc Ford Anglia. He then switched to the first of his Escort Twin Cams, and results started to come, but the arrival of the ex-Adrian Boyd RS1600 REV 120K; arranged by Ford, saw his rallying take off. David's well-known multi historic championship winning Mk1 Escort twin-cam will be on display at Rallyday.
Castle Combe circuit opens to spectators from 9:00 am and admission prices are: £18 in advance or £25 on the day. Under 17s: FREE parking and also convenient forward-parking will be available for blue badge holders.
Access the circuit is via the B4039 following brown tourist signs with chequered flag from either Junction 17 or 18 of the M4
Rallyday - Saturday 24th September
Castle Combe Circuit
22nd September, 2016