When Super Seb is away, the others come out to play. The 7 times champion retired on stage 3 of his home rally in france and not only has it blown the title fight wide open, but it made for a great battle to the end in France.
A few drivers put in some real ‘Stand out’ performances. First of all, Sebastien Ogier. He made the most of his team mates problems and battled faultlessly on to win his home event in France. A special moment for the young frenchman and his Co-Driver Julian Ingrassia. Anther Stand out performance was ex-Citroen works driver, Dani Sordo in the new Mini john copper works WRC car. The Spaniard led at the end of day 1, and was in the fight for victory up until the final stage of the rally, also proving the competitive pace of the new Mini to finish 2nd.
But the ‘Driver of the Rally’ has to go to FERM Power tools team driver Dennis Kuipers, who finished 5th overall on the event, his best WRC career result and is the best performance of a Dutch driver in the FIA World Rally Championships. With his Belgian co-driver Frederic Miclotte the Dutch driver also set a second fastest time on Stage 18. Kuipers Also won the Abu Dhabi spirit of the rally award. In a press release by the team he said, “I’m really excited with this result. In Germany we were already very fast, but to finish sixth [5th after the exclusion of Petter Solberg] here is beyond my wildest dreams. We have also just been awarded the Abu Dhabi Spirit of the Rally Award which is the icing on the cake!”
Kuipers Co-Driver Frederic Miclotte said, “We worked hard this year to improve our skills and today’s result shows that we have made good progress”, says Miclotte. “This is without a doubt our best rally so far. But of course we still need to continue to improve.”
The Pair also received high praise from M-Sport/Ford team boss Malcolm Wilson. “Dennis and Fred’s fantastic result at Rallye de France is very well deserved. The pair have worked extremely hard this year and their pace this weekend has been reflected in their continued effort over the course of the season. It is also great to see Dennis awarded with the Abu Dhabi Spirit of the Rally Award in France – it is a prize which is presented to those who have made an outstanding contribution or achievement for each rally and I think it is very apt that Dennis is presented with the prestigious award for this event.”