Well, that’s it. All over for the 2013 Wales Rally GB. Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala did the business for Volkswagen with Thierry Neuville and Mad Ostberg preventing a Polo lock-out and keeping Andreas Mikkelson off the podium.
At the rally finish Ogier had much to say: “This is the perfect end to a perfect season. I am very happy, and extremely proud of this win, as the Rally Wales is one of the toughest on the calendar. Things have not always gone to plan here for me in recent years. We just tried to maintain the gap through to the finish today. Now that the season is over, I can look back on what has really been an incredible year. If anyone had predicted before the start of the season that Julien and I would end up with nine wins and the World Championship title to our name, we would probably have sent him straight to the team doctor. I may already have thanked the team in France, but I simply cannot say thank you often enough: the team did a fantastic job in our debut year. They made this fantastic success possible by providing me with a magnificent car.”
Runner-up Latvala was equally happy with his rally and his season: “Second place at the final round of the season is a decent result, but I had hoped for more at my ‘second home rally’. Our pace was basically okay, but unfortunately I made too many small mistakes to put Sébastien Ogier under any real pressure. I was really hungry to win this rally for a third time in a row, but Séb produced a perfect performance. When he is in this kind of mood, he is virtually unbeatable. Looking back on my first season with Volkswagen, it has definitely been a rollercoaster ride, but I now feel right home in the Polo R WRC. It was clear from the outset that 2013 would be something of a learning year. The way the season started in Monte Carlo, Sweden and my home rally in Finland was hard to take. In contrast, however, were my long-awaited first win in Greece, a further seven podiums and winning the Manufacturers’ World Championship.”
In third place Thierry Neuville had much to reflect on: “Really really happy with that. We couldn't imagine it at the beginning of the season that I would be second in the championship. New car, new team, everybody has worked really really hard, and I need to thank everyone. Of course I am sad to be leaving this team, but I must also look forward. We're going to push and keep working hard, but we can manage with the experience we have.”
And what about young Evans, 8th overall and first WRC2: “It feels great. It's been a great learning experience at M-Sport - I have to be really, really grateful to them. A fantastic car and great experience. I don't know about next year yet. We've had a few disappointments but the team has worked hard.”
Further down the field, Tony and Amy had a great run too: “Thank you, the last day has been a sting in the tail. We had all sorts of problems (turbo, intercom and punctures), as if someone is testing us with this being a world championship event! Wales Rally GB is very close to my heart, it's been rejuvinated, the stages are rammed with fans, WRGB is back!” said Tony with Amy adding: “The last few stages have been crazy, we've had everything thrown at us, but we made it to the finish which was the aim. I've got the rallying bug, I've loved every minute of it.”
Which begs the question, when will we see Amy behind the wheel? Next year perhaps?
Leaderboard after 22 (of 22) stages:
1, S. Ogier, 3h 03m 36.7s
2, J. Latvala, 3h 03m 58.5s, +21.8
3, T. Neuville, 3h 05m 01.2s, +1:24.5
4, M. Østberg, 3h 05m 24.9s, +2:03.4
5, A. Mikkelsen, 3h 05ms 40.1s, +2:03.4
6, M. Prokop, 3h 11m 14.2s, +7:37.5
7, D. Sordo, 3h 12m 03.6s, +8:26.9
8, E. Evans, (WRC2), 3h 14m 49.8s, +11:31.1
9, J. Ketomaa, (WRC2), 3h 14m 49.8s, +12:16.2
10 M. Higgins, (WRC2), 3h 16m 57.7s, +13:21.0
12, T. Cave, (WRC2), 3h 21m 58.0s, +18:21.3
21, R. Barrable, (WRC2), 3h 36m 49.6s, +33:12.9
23, M. Taylor, 3h 37m 29.8s, +33:53.1
26, T. Jardine, 3h 45m 20.4s, +41:43.7
30, O. Pryce, 3h 50m 29.1s, +46:52.4
31, J. Ford, 3h 52m 15.0s, +48:38.3
33, C. Ingram, 3h 54m 18.5s, +50:41.8
34, P. Morrow, 3h 55m 16.9s, +51:40.2
35, D. McKenna, 3h 55m 21.7s, +51:45.0
37, K. Cronin, (WRC3), 3h 56m 14.3s, +52:47.5
And just one final thought on the WRC from me. There were delays with the results yesterday and again this afternoon, and I just wondered should we expect a better more efficient service from a major sporting competition like the World Rally Championship?
Anyone can run a results service, but it’s when things start to go wrong that the systems and personnel are tested. On this experience perhaps the WRC should have a word with Martin at Tyneside Computer Services or Brian at Flying Finish or even Raymond at Scotresults, eh?