Sébastien Ogier has clinched victory in the 2018 Wales Rally GB.
The Frenchman may have won 44 times in his career so far, but few of his victories have been more hard-fought than the one he achieved at the Wales Rally GB this weekend (4th-7th October).
The Ford racing star overcame a thrilling final day challenge to become the first driver in history to triumph five times at the event.
Going into Sunday’s speed tests through the scenic Snowdonia National Park and around Llandudno’s iconic Great Orme, the stage was set for an exhilarating battle for glory, with the top four competitors separated by just 13.5 seconds.
Defending world champion Ogier and Toyota rival Jari-Matti Latvala immediately engaged in an absorbing duel, treating the fans to a spellbinding scrap for supremacy.
Latvala stormed through the points-paying power stage to depose overnight leader Ogier from the top of the timing screens.
The Frenchman hit back immediately, though, with a scintillating run through the Great Orme Llandudno street stage to slash the gap between the pair to just two tenths-of-a-second.
This was the first time in Britain that closed public roads in a town had ever staged world championship motor sport.
Ogier’s commitment was mind-blowing, and the Frenchman subsequently produced another virtuoso performance on his second blast through the showpiece stage to cement his victory – a record-breaking fifth on the event.
“It’s a great honour to win in Wales for the fifth time,” reflected the five-time champ.
“Everybody knows how tough this event is and how it’s one of the most iconic rallies in the world championship. I’m very proud to be on top of that list ahead of such big names in the sport.
“It was certainly an intense weekend! We lost a lot of time due to gearbox issues on Friday, but we never gave up and kept on pushing.
“Jari-Matti gave me a hard time right to the end – we knew we had to be at our absolute best to beat him, and I think we managed that. It was an amazing battle.”
Latvala’s team-mate and countryman Esapekka Lappi rounded out the rostrum in third, with the podium ceremony taking place right in front of excited spectators on Llandudno’s seafront.
2018 Dayinsure Wales Rally GB Final Result
1. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia – Ford Fiesta WRC (3h 06m 12.5s)
2. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila – Toyota Yaris WRC (+10.6s)
3. Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm – Toyota Yaris WRC (+35.1s)
4. Craig Breen/Scott Martin – Citroën C3 WRC (+1m 10.4s)
5. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul – Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC (+1m14.4s)
6. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger – Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC (+1m15.9s)
7. Hayden Paddon/Sebastian Marshall – Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC (+1m18.4s)
8. Mads Østberg/Torstein Eriksen – Citroën C3 WRC (+1m21.6s)
9. Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen – Skoda Fabia R5 (+9m14.7s)
10. Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson – Skoda Fabia R5 (+10m48.9s)
Full information can be found on the www.walesrallygb.com website.