WRC 2014, Round 4: Rally De Portugal16th April 14
After a very successful and monopolised 2013 drive for Sébastien Ogier in his VW Polo R WRC, will he be able to keep true to his prior form or will someone step up to challenge the reigning champion in the 42nd season of WRC.
With thirteen different rallies across 4 different continents, the 2014 season is shaping up to be one to watch. This series is also reintroducing the Rally of Poland after its 5 year absence as well as seeing the return of Hyundai after taking their leave from the championship in 2003.
Unlike the huge volume of rule changes in Formula One, WRC 2014 has only had a few changes, mostly to the running and organisation of the race weekends. The first change is one to the qualification events on the race weekends whereby the classification of the drivers in the championship now determines when they will start their run.
After the Sweden, Monte Carlo and Mexico rounds, Ogier was leading the pack with fellow teammate Jari-Matti Latvala only three points behind. From there the two VW racers held a 28 point lead over the rest of the field making it look, at that moment, to be a two horse race.
Hyundai are currently holding 4th in the manufacturers championship on their debut return with Citroen looking to be the ones who can challenge VW’s reign.
During day one in this weekend’s Portuguese rally, Hyundai managed a surprising, but unfortunately short, first place position after stage three when Daniel Sordo led the even by 2.8 seconds with Ott Tanak in second and championship leader, Ogier in third.
During stage 4 Ogier managed to pull ahead again whilst a crash from Latvala saw his weekend come to a disappointing close. By stage 7 and the end of day one, Ford had a one-two with Mikko Hirvonen and Tanak leading Ogier.
Day two saw Formula one star, Robert Kubica’s second crash of the weekend who along with fellow grasscutter Tanak, had a very disappointing day. Tanak’s crash also meant that Hirvonen had to complete the stage under yellow flag conditions losing his first place position to Ogier at the end of stage 10.
By the end of stage 15 on the final day, Ogier had managed to pull out a 35.4 second gap over Hirvonen so when they got to the final power stage, no one could stop Ogier from taking the victory and a very useful bunch of points to gap fellow VW driver Latvala.
Hirvonen managed to keep second place despite Citroen driver Mads Otsberg’s best efforts who could only manage a very respectable third.
This leaves the championship with Ogier 28 points ahead of Latvala where they will next meet in Argentina.
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