Wales Rally GB was the 13th and final stop for the 2014 World Rally Championship series. The rally took place on the rolling country side of Wales, over three days, twenty three all gravel stages and a little under 850 miles. Although the stages felt very intuitive to the drivers where they can easily adapt to the rhythm of throwing their cars into the corners, the weather brought the biggest challenge.
It’s Wales in the fall, whether it rains or not, the gravel roads were going to remain damp. Over the course of the rally the leading driver had the advantage of carving out the path for the remaining competitors, who then had to adjust to driving with limited traction and expecting the lack of it mid-way through a corner.
On the first day of the rally, Jari-Matti Latvala was mere seconds behind the leader, until he overshot the braking point into a tight turn, stalled his car while braking backwards and ended up in a ditch with the spoiler torn off. This hick-up led to three minutes lost and the lack of downforce on the back of the car. After more problems with a damper in stage 13 and slippery conditions throughout the remainder of Wales Rally, Jari-Matti Latvala placed 8th overall.
After a tight battle between Mads Ostberg and Mikko Hirvonen for the second place on the podium, Hirvonen kept his M-Sport Ford pinned to the floor with close misses and finished 2nd overall. After a 12 year career, 4 times runner up to Sebastian Loeb, 163 times behind the wheel, Wales Rally GB was Mikko Hirovenen’s final WRC rally, he’ll be retiring with the close of the 2014 WRC season.
Sebastian Ogier established the lead early on Friday, although a close call with the a chicane which left his mirror broken off and door dented, he remained and held on to the first place throughout the remainder of Rally Great Britain, finishing first and leading by 37.6 seconds.