ANOTHER YEAR, A SECOND WIN: French driver Sebastien Ogier (right) and co-driver Julien Ingrassia celebrate after winning the 2014 Rally of Australia on the New South Wales coast on September 14. Image: AFP / William West
SYDNEY, Australia – 2013 World Rally champion Sebastien Ogier took another big step towards retaining his title when he won the Australian round of the World Rally championship near the seaside resort of Coffs Harbour for the second year in a rowon Sunday (Sept 14).
The 30-year-old held off Volkswagen team mate Jari-Matti Latvala by 6.8sec to extend his lead over the Finn in the title race to 50 points with only 75, plus bonuses, up for grabs over the last three rounds in France, Spain and Britain.
It was the sixth victory of the season and the 22nd of Ogier's career and, with Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen finishing third in another VW, helped to secure a second consecutive Manufacturers' title for the German brand.
The rare podium sweep was particularly pleasing for Ogier: he and Latvala both crashed out of the previous rally in Germany.
"Fantastic," said Ogier, who has 214 points to Latvala's 164, in a TV interview after leaping out of his car at the end of the 20th and final stage. "There was no better way to come back for the team. It was very frustrating for us to offer them such a bad result at home.
“At least we did something special this weekend with a 1-2-3. I'm very happy for the team and, from a personal point of view, it's a good, good step for the championship as well."
Latvala won the final power stage on Sunday afternoon (Australian time) to claim three bonus points to Ogier's two but by that point the Frenchman and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia were all but assured of victory.
A better tyre selection on Saturday meant Ogier went into the final day with an 11.8sec lead which he was able to protect on the dusty gravel tracks on the north-central coast of New South Wales.
The French round of the 2014 championship will be raced on asphalt near Strasbourg in Alsace over October 3-5.
2014 Rally of Australia result
1 Sebastien Ogier (France) Volkswagen 2hr53min18.000
2 Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) Volkswagen +6.80
3 Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) Volkswagen +1min18.0
4 Kris Meeke (Britain) Citroen +1min44.0
5 Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) Ford +1min53.6
6 Hayden Paddon (New Zealand) Hyundai +2min56.2
7 Thierry Neuville (Belgium) Hyundai +4min28.2
8 Elfyn Evans (Britain) Ford +5min10.0
9 Robert Kubica (Poland) Ford +6min39.8
10 Chris Atkinson (Australia) Hyundai +9min29.
Drivers’ and Constructor points after the 2014 Rally of Australia
1 Sebastien Ogier (France) VW Motorsport 214
2 Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) VW Motorsport 164
3 Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) VW Motorsport II 125
4 Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) World Rally Team 83
5 Thierry Neuville (Belgium) Hyundai World Rally Team 79
6 Mads Ostberg (Norway) Citroen World Rally Team 74
7 Kris Meeke (Britain) Citroen World Rally Team 67
8 Elfyn Evans (Britain) World Rally Team 61
9 Martin Prokop (Czech Republic) Czech National Team 37
10 Henning Solberg (Norway) Henning Solberg 26
1 VW Motorsport - 348
2 Citroen World Rally Team - 154
3 M-Sport World Rally Team - 146
4 Hyundai World Rally Team - 141
5 Volkswagen Motorsport II - 109
6 Jipocar Czech National Team - 40
7 RK World Rally Team - 25
8 Hyundai Motorsport - 22