PHOTO: Draped in his national flag and soaked in champagne, Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen celebrates his victory in Kennards Hire Rally Australia today (Craig Coomans pic)
COFFS COAST (NSW) – Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen has clinched an all-the-way win in the closing round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship at Kennards Hire Rally Australia today.
The Norwegian held off teammate Sebastien Ogier for his career-third win to give Volkswagen Motorsport a perfect conclusion to its four-year participation in the WRC.
Mikkelsen had been under intense pressure with an overnight lead of just 2.0 seconds and the four-time world champion breathing down his exhaust, but this was relieved when Ogier spun on the second stage of the day, Bucca16, and the gap opened to more than 22 seconds.
Although Ogier won the final two stages in characteristic fighting style, he was still 14.9sec short when the rally finished on the Wedding Bells stage just north of Coffs Harbour.
Belgium’s Thierry Neuville finished third a further 57.7sec behind in his Hyundai, but this was good enough to confirm his second place in the 20167 standings, just ahead of Mikkelsen.
Kennards Hire Rally Australia (provisional):
1. Andreas Mikkelsen (Volkswagen) Total time 2hrs 26min 05.7sec
2. Sebastien Ogier (Volkswagen) Difference to first +14.9sec
3. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) +1:12.6
4. Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) +1:26.7
5. Dani Sordo (Hyundai) +1:28.3
Drivers’ standings (Provisional after round 13):
1. Sébastien Ogier 268 points
2. Thierry Neuville 160
3. Andreas Mikkelsen 154
4. Hayden Paddon 138
5. Dani Sordo 130