WHILE World Champion Sebastian Ogier showed his class to win in the Welsh forests, the local entry of David Higgins and Craig Drew took the Group N honours in a Colin McRae tribute Subaru Impreza.

Sebastian Ogier emerged as victor of Wales Rally GB, beating Citroen’s Kris Meeke by just 26 seconds after the gruelling event that saw the forests turn into a sea of mud and standing water.

This year’s event will go down as one of the toughest on record, providing a fitting finale to the WRC season with three days of incessant rain, high winds and hail stones making grip levels on the stages change around every corner.

Thousands of spectators lined the Welsh forests to see if both home grown star Elfyn Evans and Dungannon man Kris Meeke could emulate Colin McRae’s victory 20 years ago,which saw the Scot clinch the world crown.

Ogier immediately took the lead over two loops of Hafren, Sweet Lamb and Myherin tests with Meeke tucked in just behind. For home-grown Evans it had been a difficult start, holding a strong fifth place after the morning loop until stage four saw the Dolgellau driver drop 90 seconds with a puncture.

Former Formula One star Robert Kubica had a lucky escape with a high speed off in Myherin and held 12th overnight.

Day two saw one of the longest days in Wales Rally GB history with a 17 hour day for the crews in appalling weather. With a 5am start crews headed for two loops of the Dyfi/Gartheniog complex, shrouded in mist and fog. It was business as usual for Ogier, as the Frenchman increased his lead to 19 seconds over Meeke after stage 10. With Citroen and Hyundai in a battle for second place in the manufacturers championship, Meeke was in a difficult situation as he needed to finish to help the team.

A restarting Therry Neuville in the works Hyundai started well with two fastest times but it came to an end with a heavy roll on stage 11 in Dyfnant. Another in trouble was Mads Ostberg who plunged to eighth after losing over a minute with an excursion into a ditch.

The top crews returned to Deeside at around 9.30pm on Saturday evening all weary with tales to tell, but it was Ogier now increasing his lead over Meeke to 31 seconds, with Mikkelsen waiting to pounce in third.

“Its been a difficult day for us, my thoughts have been elsewhere. I now need to win this rally for the French people,” said a sad, tired, forlorn looking Ogier.

Day three in comparison was a short blast but none the less tricky with slippery tests in Alwen and Brenig to wake drivers up. There was also the matter of the tricky twisting tarmac of Great Orme around the coastal headland.

Drama unfolded from the off with Ford’s Ott Tanak putting the car off the road and out of the rally. The final loop passed without anymore major issues,and saw Sebastian Ogier & Julian Ingrassia return to Deeside victorious in the all conquering Polo R WRC, fitting perhaps given the events in Paris this weekend.

"Victory here is the best way to finish,but we have nothing to celebrate today given what happened in Paris,” said the Frenchman.

Meeke took a fantastic second place in the works Citroen which was enough for Abu Dhabi Citroen team to claim runners up spot in the manufacturers title race with Hyundai.

For Welshman Elfyn Evans it had been a frustrating weekend in difficult conditions coming home in sixth place, which he hopes will be enough to secure a seat for next season.

“I’m glad to be at the end. Have we done enough to secure a seat next year? Who knows,” smiled Evans.

Reigning American rally champions David Higgins and Craig Drew took the Group N honours and 20th overall in a Subaru Impreza, the car in McRae’s 555 colours to commemorate the Scot’s win 20 years ago.

An incident packed day one saw the crew bend both bottom arms, and a spin on the last stage of the day, with day two being fairly trouble free.

The final day saw drama when the car refused to start at the morning re-fuel. Despite this, when the car was bump started it kept running all day and the duo were happy with a top 20 finish.

"Its been great to be back in the welsh forests,” said Craig. “The weather has thrown everything at us, but the spectators and marshals deserve a medal.

“It’s been an honour to be part of the Colin McRae celebrations."