PHOTO: Colin McMaster
(Event release, 15/9/2013) – FRENCHMAN Sebastien Ogier has won Coates Hire Rally Australia on the New South Wales Coffs Coast – but dramatically has failed on the final Power Stage to clinch the FIA World Rally Championship for drivers today.
The Volkswagen driver won 19 of the event’s 22 stages, including the Power Stage, and finished with a margin of 1 min 32 sec. over Thierry Neuville of Belgium. Mikko Hirvonen finished the rally third, 3 min. 21 sec. behind the winner.
But it was the misfortune of Hirvonen on the 29.44 km second pass through the Shipmans stage that brought Ogier’s title hope undone.
The Finn’s final test was slowed by a flat left-rear tyre on his Citroen DS3, forcing him to forfeit second place overall to Neuville and allowing the M-Sport driver also to pick up second in the Power Stage, which provides 3-2-1 bonus points for the top finishers.
Neuville’s unexpected last-stage ascension in the points standings was enough to deny Ogier’s championship, which now must wait until round 11 in France on 3-6 October.