Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia secured their third consecutive FIA World Rally Championship title today after winning Coates Hire Rally Australia, the 10th round of the series, for the third time in a row*. With team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila claiming second, Volkswagen Motorsport was also able to secure a third straight manufacturers’ crown*. In the rally, Kris Meeke fought the Polo R WRC drivers hard and finished third overall with Andreas Mikkelsen fourth, just 5.9 seconds further adrift.
Following in the footsteps of Lancia, Subaru, Peugeot and Citroën, Volkswagen now joins the list of manufacturers to have won three consecutive FIA World Rally Championship titles and the German marque can also celebrate the Polo R WRC’s 31st world rally victory from 36 starts. With a good haul of points from Rally Australia, Hyundai Motorsport maintains its second position in the standings. With the Drivers’ and Co-drivers’ titles now settled, the fight for second and third in the Championship remains close between a handful of drivers, led by Latvala.
Today’s closing day of competition was the shortest and covered five stages and 68.76 competitive kilometres. Ogier was on a mission from the outset and the Frenchman knocked out a string of five fastest stage times en route to this third title. Despite claiming he was not targeting the all-important Power Stage points too, he picked up the extra three points ahead of team-mates Latvala and Mikkelsen. In identical machinery, there was little Latvala could do to challenge Ogier today but the Finn was happy to be on the podium, especially after a late scare with an alternator problem. Kris Meeke pushed the Volkswagens hard, but was relieved to be back on the podium after a couple of difficult events.
Mikkelsen was truly in the fight first thing this morning and closed in on Meeke to be within 4.2 seconds of the Citroën driver. However, a mistake checking into the mid-day service saw the Norwegian crew pick up a 10 second penalty. While they fought to the finish, they missed out on the podium by just 5.9 seconds. Hayden Paddon claimed fifth to the delight of his thousands of Kiwi fans, picking up valuable points for Hyundai Motorsport. Ott Tanak finished sixth, despite clouting a bank and damaging the rear wheel in the final stage and Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo took seventh and eighth respectively. Eflyn Evans will be happy to put Rally Australia behind him, having struggled throughout the event and being at a loss to understand his lack of pace.
Nasser Al-Attiyah rounded off the top 10 but more crucially scored maximum points in the FIA WRC 2 Championship category. He came under intense pressure from Yurii Protasov but bagged the haul of points to extend his lead in the Championship.
The FIA World Rally Championship contenders now return to Europe for the all-asphalt Tour de Corse, France’s round of the series based in Corte from 1 – 4 October.
FIA Press Release
|1. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia||Volkswagen Polo R WRC||2hr 59min 16.4sec|
|2. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila||Volkswagen Polo R WRC||2hr 59min 28.7sec|
|3. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle||DS 3 WRC||2hr 59min 49.0sec|
|4. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene||Volkswagen Polo R WRC||2hr 59min 54.9sec|
|5. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard||Hyundai i20 WRC||3hr 00min 11.4sec|
|6. Ott Tanak/Raigo Molder||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||3hr 00min 54.4sec|
|7. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul||Hyundai i20 WRC||3hr 01min 24.7sec|
|8. Dani Sordo/Marc Marti||Hyundai i20 WRC||3hr 01min 31.6sec|
|9. Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||3hr 03min 50.1sec|
|10. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel||Ford Fiesta RRC||3hr 11min 02.9sec|