Victory on the 2016 RallyRACC Catalunya was enough for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia to secure their fourth consecutive FIA World Rally Championship title. The French pair also chalked up Michelin’s 300th WRC win. Hyundai NG i20 WRC/Michelin drivers Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville finished on the Spain podium’s other two steps, and there was a Skoda/Michelin one-two in WRC2.
Sébastien Ogier collected his fifth win of the year after a thrilling dice with local star Dani Sordo who led after Leg 1 which visited gravel stages made treacherously slippery by heavy rain.
The Frenchman bounced back on Saturday’s asphalt tests, however, to close the gap to the Spaniard and take control after SS14. The ‘off’ of Mikkelsen (VW/Michelin), his chief remaining threat in the title chase, provided him with a red-carpet ride to a fourth straight crown with two rounds remaining.
For the fifth time, Sordo had to settle for second spot on his home event, although he had the satisfaction of beating Hyundai team-mates Neuville and Hayden Paddon (Hyundai/Michelin). Norway’s Mads Ostberg (Ford/Michelin) was fifth.
Briton Kris Meeke (Citroën/Michelin) dropped time on SS2 (roll) before being betrayed by his engine on Sunday morning. Jari-Matti Latvala (VW/Michelin) had to restart on Saturday under the Rally2 ruling due to suspension damage but he was accredited with seven fastest times from 19, including the Power Stage.
In WRC2, Jan Kopecky and Pontus Tidemand produced a one-two finish for Skoda/Michelin. The class’s title contender Teemu Suninen (Skoda/Michelin) was forced out by mechanical trouble on Day 1.
The RallyRACC Catalunya set the scene for Michelin’s 300th world class win since the championship’s creation in 1973. The French tyre manufacturer has extended its commitment to the WRC until 2019.