Andreas Mikkelsen says he is “proud” to have won Volkswagen's farewell event in Australia and to have beaten team-mate Sebastien Ogier “fair and square” to take the laurels.
Mikkelsen, who led the three-day event in New South Wales almost for its entirety, came into the final day just 2secs up on Ogier, but saw off the threat with the Frenchman spinning away his chance in the 31.90km Bucca test.
It was Mikkelsen's second win of the season and his third at the top level.
“This weekend was amazing and I had a great time in the Polo. It was maximum attack from the start. When I woke this morning, I knew we had a big fight and we just gave it everything and it was enough,” Mikkelsen said.
“I'm really happy and really proud to sit here in the middle of these fantastic drivers. I don't think anybody expected the three of us would sit here with these running positions [on Friday and Saturday].
“This victory is so special. I know it's the last one with Volkswagen and that makes it special, but to fight off a four-time champion in terms of pace and performance and to beat him fair and square on the same road conditions, with no mechanical problems… I'm really proud of that.
“It's my best victory but it's sad to see this team and the car come to an end.”
Elaborating on his feelings following his final competitive event with VW and the Polo R WRC, Mikkelsen added: “There are some really mixed emotions sitting here, for sure [as I said] I have probably done my best ever rally and to finish my career with Volkswagen with a win is an amazing feeling. To be able to give this to the team, I can't be more proud.
“But I'm also sad to see it all disappear, already in the last stage I was telling Anders [Jager – my co-driver] – in the last one kilometre of the Power Stage: 'Wow, I am going to miss this car and this team!'
“For sure, it will be strange not to tackle any more WRC rallies with this amazing crew. It will probably get more emotional tonight!”
Mikkelsen also said he felt “sorry” for Ogier when he heard the Frenchman had spun in SS20.
“We knew it was a big fight, and it would be a dream come true if I win this. We pushed like hell on that long stage and when I saw the time it was quite a lot better, I did get very happy. There was a lot of adrenalin, you never want other guys to make mistakes, you really want this to be decided on the last stage. [But] I was so happy with our performance. I'm sorry for Seb, but he won so many times, this was my turn,” he explained.
Despite the victory, however, with Hyundai's Thierry Neuville finishing third, Mikkelsen was unable to overhaul the Belgian and secure second in the Drivers' Championship. Instead he finished third, 6 points adrift.
“On the one hand, it is a bit of a shame that we just missed out on second place in the championship.
"[But] on the other hand, that is not so important. If I had been given the choice of winning our final rally together or finishing runner-up in the world championship, I would always have chosen the win,” he concluded.