PHOTO: Sébastien Ogier celebrates his victory with teammates Andreas Mikkelsen (left) and Jari-Matti Latvala (Volkswagen pic)[/caption]
FRENCHMAN Sèbastien Ogier will bid to wrap up his third straight FIA World Rally Championship in Australia after boosting his advantage with a flawless win in ADAC Rallye Germany today.
Coates Hire Rally Australia on the New South Wales Coffs Coast on 10-13 September is the next destination on the WRC calendar and a fresh chance for Ogier to clinch the title, ironically denied in Germany only by the crushing 1-2-3 result of his Volkswagen Motorsport team.
Ogier will win the championship in Australia if he finishes ahead of his closest rival and teammate Jari-Matti Latvala.
Latvala would have had to finish no better than eighth today for Ogier to have a mathematical shot at the crown, but instead the Finn came home second and with the third Volkswagen driver Andreas Mikkelsen on the final podium step.
The result was a dream for Volkswagen on its all-important home event, the only one on the 13-round WRC calendar it had not conquered and where it had failed bitterly on the past two occasions.
“The pressure was on all weekend. Everyone expected us to succeed here finally and we made it with a one-two-three,” Ogier said at the finish near Trier, in the Mosel region.
“I’m so close to my third title now, so I’m really happy. It’s been a great rally, really enjoyable.”
Ogier led for all but two of the 21 asphalt speed tests on Baumholder’s military roads, Saarland’s country lanes and the Mosel vineyard tracks. He ended Friday’s leg 10sec clear of Latvala after a tight battle, but extended it to more than 30sec yesterday.
Latvala was deflated at being unable to match his teammate over the daunting tank training tracks yesterday, but second provided some consolation after crashing out of the lead on the final day 12 months ago.
Mikkelsen was chased by Kris Meeke initially, but when the Ulsterman went off the road on Friday, the Norwegian measured his pace to the finish.
Dani Sordo claimed his best result for almost 12 months after coming out on top of an inter-team fight with Hyundai i20 colleague Thierry Neuville. Elfyn Evans prevented Volkswagen achieving a clean sweep of stage wins on Sunday en route to sixth in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS.
Mads Østberg finished seventh in a disappointing weekend for Citroën, with Ott Tänak eighth after twice going off the road.
New Zealander Hayden Paddon was a frustrated ninth following turbocharger problems in his Hyundai i20, with World Rally Car debutant Stéphane Lefebvre rounding off the top 10.
Ogier heads to Australia already with a 93-point lead over Latvala. Should he and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia emerge from the Coffs Coast event with 84 of their lead over their fellow Volkswagen crews of Latvala/Miikka Anttila and Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene intact, the defending champions will claim their third title.Volkswagen also is closing on the Manufacturer’s Championship, which it secured in Australia last year with an identical 1-2-3 finish.
Coates Hire Rally Australia has attracted 27 entries in the WRC category including a strong contingent of national crews. Entrants in the ECB Australian Rally Championship support round will be announce early this week.
RESULTS, ADAC Rallye Germany (Rd 9 of 13, provisional):
1 S Ogier/J Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) Total time 3hr35min49.5sec
2 J-M Latvala/M Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) behind winner +23.0sec
3 A Mikkelsen/O Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +1:56.6
4 D Sordo/M Martí (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:09.3
5 T Neuville/N Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:33.8
6 E Evans/D Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:52.1
7 M Østberg/J Andersson (Citroën DS3 WRC) +3:12.5
8 O Tanak/R Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:26.6
9 H Paddon/J Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:46.8
10 S Lefebvre/S Prévot (Citroën DS3 WRC) +4:54.5
FIA Drivers’ standings (after Rd 9):
S Ogier 207 points
J-M Latvala 114
A Mikkelsen 98
M Østberg 90
T Neuville 80
E Evans 61
K Meeke 56
O Tänak 54
D Sordo 52
H Paddon 46
FIA Manufacturers’ standings (after Rd 9):
Volkswagen Motorsport 300 points
Hyundai Motorsport 161
Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 148
M-Sport World Rally Team 138
Volkswagen Motorsport II 64
Hyundai Motorsport N 45