CHALLENGING VICTORY: Volkswagen driver Sebastien Ogier (R) and co-driver Julien Ingrassia (L) celebrate on the podium after winning the Rally of Sweden. Image: AFP/ Jonathan Nackstrand
Karlstad, Sweden - Triple world champion Sebastien Ogier won the Rally of Sweden on Sunday (February 14) for a third time in four years to consolidate his place atop the Drivers' championship.
The Frenchman drove his Volkswagen Polo to six wins of the 12 programmed special stages and the power stage to finish 29.8sec ahead of New Zealand's Hayden Paddon in a Hyundai i20.
Norway's Mads Ostberg took third in a Ford Fiesta, a further 25.8sec 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.
Ogier said: "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."
Ogier said Saturday (February 13) had been one of the hairiest days of his rallying career in testing conditions on forest surfaces.
He said:"At the start of the week, conditions were terrible. There was hardly any snow. We thought it'd be impossible to stage a rally. The cold arrived a bit later but the organisers 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."
Ogier now has 56 points to top the drivers' standings ahead of Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen (33), with Ostberg in third (27).
Rally of Sweden results:
1. Sebastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia (FRA/VW Polo-R) 1hr 59min 47.4sec,
2. Hayden Paddon-John Kennard (NZL/Hyundai i20) at 29.8sec,
3. Mads Ostberg-Ola Floene (NOR/Ford Fiesta RS) 55.6,
4. Andreas Mikkelsen-Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR/VW Polo-R) 1:10.8,
5. Ott Tanak-Raigo Molder (EST/Ford Fiesta RS) 1:50.7,
6. Dani Sordo-Marc Marti (ESP/Hyundai i20) 2:24.0,
7. Henning Solberg-Ilka Minor (NOR/Ford Fiesta) 2:40.0,
8. Craig Breen-Scott Martin (IRL-GBR/Citron DS3) 2:44.6,
9. Elfyn Evans-Craig Parry (GBR/Ford Fiesta R5) 5:17.0 1er WRC2,
10. Teemu Suninen-Mikko Markkula (FIN/Skodia Fabia R5) 5:31.6 2e WRC2
1. Sebastien Ogier (FRA) 56 points
2. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) 33
3. Mads Ostberg (NOR) 27
4. Dani Sordo (ESP) 18
5. Hayden Paddon (NZL) 18
6. Thierry Neuville (BEL) 17
7. Ott Tanak (EST) 16
8. Stephane Lefebvre (FRA) 10
9. Henning Solberg (NOR) 6
10. Elfyn Evans (GBR)