for Rally Australia result
Andreas Mikkelsen took victory on Rally Australia on Sunday to send Volkswagen out on a high and bring down the curtain on the current era of WRC cars.
It was VW's ninth win of the season and its 43rd from 53 events. It was also Mikkelsen's second triumph of the 2016 WRC campaign, although it wasn't quite enough to secure him the runners-up spot in the Drivers' Championship.
“It's been such a perfect end to the season,” Mikkelsen told the official WRC site.
“I had nothing to lose. All this year I drove for the championship but here we just went for the win, to see how fast we were. We challenged the four-time champion and we won fair and square in the same road conditions [today].
“It's just sad to see this team and the car come to an end. I will miss them.”
Mikkelsen led the event for all but one of the 23 stages, briefly overhauled by Hayden Paddon in SS2 on Friday, before re-taking top spot in SS3 and completing the morning having won four of the first five tests. Mikkelsen then eked out his advantage on Friday's repeat loop, despite a scare in Northbank 2 when his water bottle got stuck between his feet.
Going into Saturday, he had a 15.4sec advantage over team-mate, Sebastien Ogier, and he more or less maintained that in the morning. The afternoon, however, was a different story, with Ogier reeling him in and cutting the gap to just 2 seconds.
Mikkelsen though fought back on Sunday, winning all three tests on the opening loop and with Ogier spinning in SS20 and losing around 15secs, it meant he had a 22.7secs buffer for the final two tests. The two eventually finished split by 14.9 seconds.
“An enjoyable stage like all the others. I just tried to enjoy it,” Ogier said after winning the Power Stage and finishing runner-up.
“It's been an amazing year. Thanks so much to the guys for everything, I will never forget it.
“Hopefully I'll see you again in Monte Carlo.”
Behind, Thierry Neuville took third, a result that ensures he hangs on to second spot in the Drivers' Championship.
Neuville had finished day one just 7.1secs behind Ogier in P2, but a wrong tyre choice on Saturday morning saw him slip back.
Going into the final leg he was 21.8secs off Hyundai team-mate, Hayden Paddon, but moved back in front when the Kiwi hit a bank and knocked a tyre off the rim in SS20. Paddon lost over 50 seconds with that error, costing him two positions on the leaderboard, although he was able to get back in front of Hyundai Motorsport N pilot Dani Sordo in SS22. The two were split by just 1.6secs at the end.
“We had the speed all weekend and I'm happy to get this result. After some difficult times, this year we're doing great,” Neuville noted.
“We have shown that we are the guys to have in the team and we're looking forward to next year.”
M-Sport's Mads Ostberg was next up in sixth, with fellow Fiesta RS WRC runner Ott Tanak seventh for the DMACK World Rally Team. Esapekka Lappi, Jari-Matti Latvala and Lorenzo Bertelli filled positions 8 through to 10.
Latvala put himself out of contention in the very first stage on Friday when he hit a bridge and damaged the suspension on his Polo R WRC. He was able to continue, but lost around 8 minutes limping through the remaining tests before the mid-day service.
In the five-car WRC2 field, Lappi dominated in his Skoda Fabia R5, winning 22 of the 23 stages to take the victory and secure the WRC2 title (as well as finish eighth overall). Nicolas Fuchs was second in the principal support category, albeit more than 4.5 mins back, with Hubert Ptaszek coming home third, 2mins further adrift.
M-Sport #2 Eric Camilli was the only major retirement, forced out on the final day after rolling his Fiesta RS WRC in SS21. He had been running seventh overall.
for Rally Australia result