The rally world was topsy-turvy for a while: Volkswagen driver Sébastien Ogier had outperformed the entire group of WRC competitors with more powerful vehicles on a special stage at the twelfth round of the World Rally Championship. Together with co-driver Julien Ingrassia, Ogier in the Škoda Fabia S2000 won a special stage on Friday ahead of the seemingly invincible WRC cars.
On finishing in fifth place overall, the French duo additionally managed to set a new record, namely the best position ever to have been achieved by a Super 2000 car in the overall classification of the FIA World Rally Championship. Their team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene (N/N) completed the strong team performance on the Costa Smeralda by taking seventh place.
"An outstanding showing by Sébastien – beating the more powerful WRC cars on a gravel stage underlines his class as a driver and his cleverness. He recognized the situation that the tracks in Sardinia at times put a very heavy strain on the tires and made perfect use of it,”said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. "Andreas showed a strong performance as well and took his Fabia to the finish at this really difficult rally without making any mistakes. I'm also pleased with the performance of the engineers and the mechanics, without which the result wouldn't have been possible. They provided both driver pairings with perfect cars through the entire rally.”
On Friday, the engineers from Volkswagen couldn't believe their eyes on seeing Ogier's time on the fifth special stage, "Tergu–Osilo”. On setting his best mark of 10m 16.1s, he outperformed the next-best WRC car by seven seconds over a distance of 14.88 kilometers. "The situation was the same for all of the top-flight teams. All had opted for soft tires in the morning. Before starting on the special stage I noticed that the tires of the WRC cars had already heavily worn – I knew that this was the chance of clinching a very good result,” revealed Ogier. "I tried to take it easy on my tires while being as fast as possible in the process, and I managed to do that.” The 28-year-old continued to maintain a fast pace and from the eighth to the eleventh special stage was running in fourth place amidst the more powerful WRC competitors. After having dropped to sixth place in between, Ogier launched a final attack on Saturday afternoon and on the 14th special stage took position five. "Intervening in the battle for the front positions was a lot of fun. The team did a brilliant job and gave us a perfect car,” said Ogier, who enjoyed some special support in Sardinia. The youth team of the Ski Club Orcieres 1850, in which he was racing as a teenager himself, visited the Frenchman.
In seventh place, Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene, after Rallye Deutschland, scored WRC points for the second time. "I'm very happy with our performance. Sardinia is one of the most difficult rallies – there are stones lurking everywhere on the narrow tracks. Even a small mistake can mean the end. That's why it was important for me to gather further experience here,” said the 23-year-old Norwegian who on three of the 16 special stages marked the best time in class.