Ogier wins but WRC crown remains unresolved

Sesbastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia win Coates Hire Rally Australia but fall agonisingly short of sealing WRC title

Sesbastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia win Coates Hire Rally Australia but fall agonisingly short of sealing WRC title

Sebastien Ogier produced one of his finest performances to completely dominate the Coates Hire Rally Australia at Coffs Harbour.

But in a classic case of how the best laid plans come unstuck, Ogier has fallen one solitary point short of securing the World Rally Championship with three events remaining.

Surrounded by towering gum trees symbolic of the Australian bush, Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia destroyed their rivals to win the event.

As the vagaries of rallying bubbled to the surface Mikko Hirvonen (Citroen) suffered a puncture on the final power stage which enabled Thierry Neuville (Ford Fiesta RS) to inherit second position.

That drama-filled positional change means the WRC will almost now be certainly decided in France next month.

Neuville completed a tidy rally, finishing 1:32.1s behind Ogier with Hirvonen slipping to third overall at the finish of the 22 stages.

Ogier accumulated 19 special stage wins with Volkswagen also extending its lead over Citroen in the battle for manufacturer’s honours.

VW moved now moved to 299 points over Citroen’s 251 as they close on becoming the new benchmark in world rallying.

“I was very happy to win this rally but we have fallen just short of confirming the title but it was out of my hands,” Ogier told Speedcafe.com

“It was a great weekend for Volkswagen and we have scored some valuable manufacturer points. I know the WRC title is so close and it’s mine but we now have to wait until France,” the Frenchman said.

“I must say that it was a bit frustrating not to win the title. In the last stages I was a bit more nervous and thinking a bit more of the title.”

Ogier has now accumulated six wins this season which equals his countryman Sebastien Loeb’s effort of 2004 which started his astonishing run of nine straight WRC titles.

Hirvonen’s puncture which has delayed Ogier’s championship celebrations, came unexpectedly as the Finn outlined that he had a clean run through the final stage.

“I really don’t know how it happened because I was in the middle of the road through the whole stage,” Hirvonen explained.

As much as the rally was a dream for Ogier, it became a dire rally for Irishman Kris Meeke who restarted after rolling on day two before he completely destroyed the Citroen’s rear suspension in the final stage and unable to make it back to service.

Local driver Nathan Quinn finished eighth overall in a highly admirable effort in the Motorsport Italia-prepared Mini.

Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari finished 10th overall and has recalimed the lead in the WRC2 standings in the Seashore-backed Ford.

See below for results

1 Sébastien Ogier Volkswagen 22 3h 19:55.0
2 Thierry Neuville Ford 22 1:32.1
3 Mikko Hirvonen Citroen 22 2:02.1
4 Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen 22 2:57.4
5 Mads Østberg Ford 22 3:17.2
6 Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen 22 3:37.6
7 Evgeny Novikov Ford 22 7:31.2
8 Nathan Quinn Mini/BMW 22 13:10.2
9 Khalid Al-Qassimi Citroen 22 15:17.6
10 Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari Ford 22 17:27.7
11 Yuriy Protasov Ford 22 18:41.1
12 Yazeed Al-Rajhi Ford 22 24:28.7
13 Arman Smailov Subaru 22 45:04.4
14 Stephen Turner Ford 22 46:11.7
15 Adrian Coppin Ford 22 47:27.4
16 Hayden Paddon Skoda 22 47:51.9
17 Alejandro Lombardo Mitsubishi 22 53:45.9
18 Martin Grigg Mitsubishi 22 1:02:36.4
19 Michael Civil Mitsubishi 22 1:05:53.8
20 Carlos Garcia Fessman Mitsubishi 22 1:05:57.8
21 Jose Alexander Gelvez Mini/BMW 22 1:17:52.3
22 Razvan Vlad Ford 22 1:19:50.6
23 Peter Dunn Subaru 22 1:26:50.6
Kris Meeke Citroen 22 Mechanical
Bruce Fullerton Mitsubishi 16 Mechanical
Darren McLanders Ford 16 Mechanical
Simon Knowles Mitsubishi 13 Mechanical
Darren Blair Subaru 11 Mechanical
Subhan Aksa Ford 2 Mechanical

Points standings

1 Sébastien Ogier 212
2 Thierry Neuville 129
3 Jari-Matti Latvala 110
4 Mikko Hirvonen 103
5 Daniel Sordo 96
6 Mads Østberg 77
7 Sébastien Loeb 68
8 Martin Prokop 49
9 Evgeny Novikov 47
10 Andreas Mikkelsen 34
11 Nasser Al-Attiyah 30
12 Elfyn Evans 16
13 Robert Kubica 14
14 Bryan Bouffier 10
15 Juho Hänninen 8
16 Chris Atkinson 8
17 Michal Kosciuszko 7
18 Ken Block 6
18 Jari Ketomaa 6
20 Khalid Al-Qassimi 5
21 Hayden Paddon 4
22 Sepp Wiegand 4
23 Per-Günnar Andersson 4
24 Benito Guerra 4
24 Henning Solberg 4
24 Nathan Quinn 4
27 Olivier Burri 2
28 Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari 1
29 Yazeed Al-Rajhi 1
30 Esapekka Lappi 1


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