With their hopes of a better outcome today somewhat compromised by being among the early runners, Mads Østberg – Torstein Eriksen and Craig Breen – Scott Martin finished fifth and sixth overall respectively, thus securing an honourable result for Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT.
Since both of the stages contested on today’s final leg, Cala Flumini (14.06km) and Sassari – Argentiera (6.96km), were very narrow and sandy, especially the latter test, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT expected a tough day with Craig Breen and Mads Østberg running second and third on the road.
Just 2.1s behind the fourth-placed driver at the start of the leg, Mads was unfortunately forced to act as road sweeper for those further down the order. His rival moved clear during the morning, but the Norwegian nonetheless secured fifth overall. A result that provided further evidence of his consistency and his gradually improving pace in the C3 WRC, after claiming two sixth positions in Sweden and Portugal.
Craig Breen finished sixth overall, meaning the Red Army could take some satisfaction from seeing both Citroën cars make it to the end of one of the most demanding rallies on the calendar, without having encountered any major issues. As he looks ahead to Finland, where he earned his first WRC podium (3rdin 2016), the Irishman is determined to secure a better finishing position very soon.
WHAT THEY SAID
“The weekend didn’t go especially smoothly for us. Having started quite far down the running order on Friday in the rain, we struggled with the tricky road conditions. We then ended up opening the road for the next two days as the ground dried out. The roads, when dry, are renowned for cleaning a lot, meaning the early runners are at a real disadvantage. I nonetheless managed to improve my knowledge of this specific rally. My focus has already shifted to Finland.”
“Although we set competitive times on a number of occasions, we quickly found ourselves having to defend our position. We therefore didn’t take any unnecessary risks. That was true both on my side, in terms of driving, and also from a technical point of view, in carrying two spares for yesterday afternoon’s loop, for example. But I’m pleased to secure this fifth place for the team.”
FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS
Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 3:29:18.7
Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +0.7
Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 1:56.3
Paddon / Marshall (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 2:55.2
Ostberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 WRC) + 3:10.9
Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) + 4:31.7
Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 11:22.1
Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 12:38.2
DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Thierry Neuville – 149 points
Sébastien Ogier – 122 points
Ott Tänak – 79 points
Esapekka Lappi – 70 points
Dani Sordo – 60 points
Andreas Mikkelsen – 56 points
Elfyn Evans – 46 points
Kris Meeke – 43 points
Jari-Matti Latvala – 37 points
Craig Breen – 34 points
MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Hyundai WRT – 212 points
M-Sport Ford WRT – 184 points
Toyota Gazoo Racing – 151 points
Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT – 129 points