Citroen Volkswagen WRC

Sebastien Ogier wins 2013 Rallye de France-Alsace

2013 Rallye de France-Alsace

Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have capped off their world championship by coming from behind to claim victory in Rallye de France-Alsace.

After the euphoria of the opening day when their championship was finally secured in the Power Stage the leading duo made a poor start to the rally proper. They ended Day 2 down in fifth place and well off the pace.

Ford driver Thierry Neuville was looking good thanks to a wise tyre choice which allowed him to end the going fastest in all the afternoon stages. An unfortunate puncture on Day 3 ended Neuville’s hopes of a maiden victory. He has shown much promise in 2013 and his career is sure to reach greater heights in the coming years.

Dani Sordo was again showing Citroën he has the pace on tarmac and inherited the lead from Neuville, but by the day’s end Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala had carved out a narrow edge to head the field into the final day.

Day 4 shaped as a classic with the first four drivers—Latvala, Sordo, Ogier and Loeb—separated by just five seconds. In wet and muddy conditions Ogier’s class shone through. He ended the opening stage of the day with a seven second lead over Sordo, with Latvala a further six seconds behind the Citroën driver.

Sadly, for all-time greats and nine time world champions, Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, their rally ended after Loeb lost control on a fast right hander, spearing off the road and into the bushes where the car came to rest on its roof. Thankfully both men were okay, but it was an unfortunate end to rallying’s best ever career.

Citroën had adorned their car with a great looking black and gold livery with the pair’s impressive statistics featured all over the car. While they did move their all-time tally of stage wins from 896 to 900, there were no additions to their 116 podiums or 78 rally victories. Still, it’s an amazing record, which is sure to remain unmatched.

Ogier was never really troubled for the remainder of the day and he took victory by 12.2 seconds from Dani Sordo. Jari-Matti Latvala was third, 19.5 seconds behind his teammate.

There’s nice symmetry in Ogier being crowned world champion in his home country as the title finally escapes Loeb’s clutches. The Alsace region is where Loeb grew up and while he’ll be disappointed to have ended his career upside down the crowd support he has enjoyed this rally will stay with him for years to come.

With two more events left on the 2013 calendar Volkswagen enjoys an 80 point lead over Citroën in the manufacturers’ championship and will be hoping it can wrap that title up at the next event in Spain later this month.