Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier
has sealed his 2013 WRC title success in style by charging back to win Rallye de France, the eleventh round in the 2013 World Rally Championship.
Ogier's crowning in Alsace might have been pretty much a formality after his victory in Australia last month, but when it came following Thursday's Power Stage
, he still had another 19 stages to complete.
Initially he struggled too, and on the first full-day of competition on Friday, conceded he wasn't completely switched on. Nevetheless he ended the day in fifth, well in contention for a podium, even if the win did at that point look a tad unlikely.
Indeed Sebastien Loeb
led following SS4, but he slipped back in the afternoon after opting for the wrong tyres. Thierry Neuville in contrast got the choice perfect and completed Friday's action, 9.9 seconds up on Dani Sordo.
Neuville then pulled further ahead on Saturday morning and was looking strong until he hit a stone in SS11 on the second runs and suffered a puncture, costing him over a minute and dropping him back to fifth.
Sordo then inherited the lead, only to find himself demoted back to second in SS14, when Jari-Matti Latvala
nipped in front.
Going into Sunday's concluding leg, the top-four – Latvala, Sordo, Ogier and Loeb - were now separated by just 5 seconds, setting things up nicely for an exciting finish, especially as rain made the stages extremely treacherous.
Ogier, however, still surged to the front, winning the first three stages to build a 13.7 second cushion. He then paced himself through the repeat runs and brought his car home to take his seventh win of the season.
"Lots of emotions during that weekend! World Champion on Thursday, a great rise on Saturday and a win today - it's just joy especially as the conditions were not easy," Ogier said after SS20.
Behind, Sordo took the runners-up spot in his Citroen
after another good display on tarmac and backing up what he achieved in Germany in August.