KARLSTAD, Sweden: Triple world champion Sebastien Ogier won the Rally of Sweden on Sunday (Monday in Manila) for a third time in four years to consolidate his place atop the drivers’ championship.
The French Volkswagen driver won six of the 12 programmed special stages and the power stage to finish 29.8 seconds ahead of New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon in a Hyundai.
Norway’s Mads Ostberg took third in a Ford Fiesta, a further 25.8 seconds off the pace.
“I’m a lucky man, it’s been a fantastic weekend!” beamed Ogier, who previously triumphed in the Karlstad-based event in 2015 and 2013. “We push ourselves to experience this. When you win a rally you can only be happy.”
“This weekend wasn’t the easiest, I had to go on the attack and take a lot of risks,” he added.
Ogier said Saturday (Sunday in Manila) had been one of the hairiest days of his rallying career in testing conditions on forest surfaces.
“At the start of the week, conditions were terrible,” he said. “There was hardly any snow. We thought it’d be impossible to stage a rally. The cold arrived a bit later but the organizers did a very good job to allow us to take part in this great race.”
“I wasn’t scared but I knew it would be tough,” he added.
Ogier now has 56 points to sit atop the drivers’ standings ahead of Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen (33), with Ostberg in third (27).
Ogier earlier claimed his fourth Monte Carlo Rally to send an early warning that he will once again be the man to beat this season.
The French Volkswagen Polo ace took the first leg of the world rally championship, almost two minutes clear of his Norwegian teammate Andreas Mikkelsen with Belgian’s Thierry Neville in a Hyundai coming third.