Sébastien Ogier moved within touching distance of a third FIA World Rally Championship title after leading Volkswagen to an emotional 1-2-3 in its home event at ADAC Rallye Deutschland on Sunday.
He finished the three-day asphalt rally 23.0sec ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala with team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen rounding out the German squad’s podium lockout a further 1min 33.6sec behind. All three were driving Polo R World Rally Cars.
Ogier will seal a third consecutive drivers’ title at Coates Rally Australia (10 – 13 September) if he finishes ahead of Latvala. His sixth success of the season moved him level with Marcus Grönholm in second place in the all-time wins list with 30 victories.
Volkswagen has now won every round in the calendar since it entered WRC in 2013, ending a home round jinx which frustrated the team.
“It’s a big relief to win this rally especially,” said the Frenchman. “The pressure was on all weekend because everyone expected us to be successful on our home round but we made it. I’m so close to my third title and it’s been a fantastic weekend for us.”
Ogier led for all but two of the 21 asphalt speed tests on Baumholder’s military roads, Saarland’s country lanes and Mosel vineyard tracks near Trier. He endedFriday’s leg 10sec clear of Latvala after a tight battle, but extended it to more than 30sec on Saturday.
Latvala was deflated at being unable to match his team-mate over the daunting tank training tracks on Saturday, but second provided some consolation after crashing out of the lead on the final day 12 months ago.
Mikkelsen was chased by Kris Meeke initially but when the Ulsterman went off the road on Friday, the Norwegian measured his pace to the finish.
Dani Sordo claimed his best result for almost 12 months after coming out on top of an inter-team fight with Hyundai i20 colleague Thierry Neuville. Elfyn Evans prevented Volkswagen achieving a clean sweep of stage wins on Sunday en route to sixth in a Ford Fiesta RS.
Mads Østberg finished seventh in a disappointing weekend for Citroën, with Ott Tänak eighth after twice going off the road. Hayden Paddon was a frustrated ninth following turbo problems in his Hyundai i20, with World Rally Car debutant Stéphane Lefebvre rounding off the top 10.
Meeke eventually finished 12th behind Kevin Abbring, but Martin Prokop retired his Fiesta RS on Sunday’s opening stage with a double puncture.