SYDNEY – Ott Tänak carried off the top accolade at Monday evening’s star-studded FIA World Rally Championship Gala Night awards in Sydney for the third consecutive season.
PHOTO: Ott Tänak is crowned Driver of the Year for the third time at the annual end-of-season WRC Gala hosted in Sydney by Rally Australia (Juris Puisens pic)
The Estonian was voted WRC Driver of the Year by fans on the WRC’s official wrc.com website. Co-driver and Martin Järveoja was named WRC Co-driver of the Year.
The pair enjoyed a superb first season with Toyota Gazoo Racing. They won four rounds to catapult themselves into world title contention ahead of last weekend’s enthralling finale at Kennards Hire Rally Australia.
Tänak’s pace also netted the award for Most Stage Wins. His tremendous charge into the title fight during the second half of the year was rewarded with the Michelin Magic Moment award for consecutive victories in Finland, Germany and Turkey.
Thierry Neuville was another big winner. The Belgian landed the ANONIMO Timing Feat Award for his breathtaking victory at Rally Italia Sardegna, when he overhauled Sébastien Ogier in a thrilling Power Stage shootout to win by 0.7sec.
The Hyundai Shell Mobis driver also lifted the OneBet Jump of the Year award for a spectacular leap at Rally Sweden’s famous Colin’s Crest. Neuville clipped a bank on take-off and flew more than 30 metres in an alarming corkscrew before slamming back to earth on two wheels.
Arpound 250 guests, including drivers and co-drivers, team bosses and championship officials, celebrated the most exciting season in a generation in the New South Wales capital.
They were joined by dignitaries, including New South Wales’ Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall for the star-studded evening at the Museum of Contemporary Art, overlooking the Opera House and in the shadow of the famous Harbour Bridge.
Other award winners included Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, who celebrated their sixth world title with fastest time in the Rally Australia Power Stage the previous day. That earned the Frenchmen the trophy for Most Power Stage Points.
M-Sport teammate Elfyn Evans’ unselfish support during Ogier’s campaign was rewarded with the Asahi Kasei Spirit of the Season award. Evans serviced his own Ford Fiesta in Turkey while his M-Sport Ford mechanics were focused on repairing Ogier’s stricken car.
The event was organised by WRC Promoter and Kennards Hire Rally Australia.
The full list of award winners was:
· WRC Driver of the Year – Ott Tänak
· WRC Co-driver of the Year – Martin Järveoja
· Michelin Magic Moment – Ott Tänak
· ANONIMO Timing Feat Award – Thierry Neuville
· Asahi Kasei Spirit of the Season – Elfyn Evans
· OneBet Jump of the Year – Thierry Neuville
· DJI Quote of the Year – Jari-Matti Latvala
· Most Power Stage Points – Sébastien Ogier
· Most Stage Wins – Ott Tänak
· Wrc.com Social Media Star of the Year – Craig Breen
· ProGrade Digital Photograph of the Year – Colin McMaster
The 2019 season begins with a high-profile launch at the Autosport International show in Birmingham on Saturday 12 January. The opening fixture of the 14-round series is Rallye Monte-Carlo on 24-27 January.
Kennards Hire Rally Australia is supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW.