Thierry Neuville has finished his 2017 World Rally Championship with his fourth victory of the year to cement his runner-up spot in the drivers’ standings for Hyundai.

Effectively leading from start to finish in Australia, Neuville gave his team something to cheer having missed out on the drivers’ title last time out at Wales Rally GB to Sebastien Ogier as well as Hyundai losing the manufacturers’ crown to M-Spord Ford.

The Belgian driver produced a conservative charge to the finish thanks to his useful 20-second lead over Jari-Matti Latvala at the start of the final day, with victory on the penultimate stage handing him the win assuming Neuville could avoid a disaster on the Power stage.

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That frustrating finale fell to Latvala who crashed out from second place on the Power stage to leave Australia with nothing having been on for his best result since Italy in June.

Latvala’s DNF promoted the entire order forward with Tanak taking second place for M-Sport with New Zealand driver Hayden Paddon also reaching the podium for Hyundai in third.

Sebastien Ogier capped his fifth consecutive WRC crown with fourth place plus victory on the Power stage but the M-Sport driver’s future remains uncertain for 2018 after considering retiring at the end of this year.

Elfyn Evans clinched fifth place on his final outing for DMACK Ford with Esapekka Lappi finishing sixth for Toyota – his best result since his shock maiden win at Rally Finland.

Kris Meeke completed the rest of the regular WRC runners in seventh place for Citroen after SS18 saw the double exit of team-mates Craig Breen and Stephane Lefebvre to dampen the end of the year for the French manufacturer.

The late flurry of retirements promoted local drivers Richie Dalton, Nathan Quinn and Dean Herridge into the final points-paying positions with Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen down in 13th recovering from a double-puncture suffered earlier in the event.