Richard's rally, Tommi's title

Richard Burns has won the Rally of Australia, ahead of Carlos Sainz and Tommi Makinen.

Richard's rally, Tommi's title

Makinen's third place was enough to secure him his fourth consecutive world drivers' title.

Burns controlled the contest since the start of leg two. He started the rally in relatively cautious form, but moved ahead early on Saturday and kept a secure gap between himself and Sainz.

Whenever the Spaniard got too close, Burns was always able to produce a lightning fast time on the next stage to pull away again.

Makinen led for a while but settled for third after his championship rival Didier Auriol crashed out of the lead on leg one.

The Finn also clinched his first title in Australia back in 1996, but has had to wait until the season finale in Britain to secure his other two crowns.

The Mitsubishi driver was always the favourite for 1999 honours after dominating the early part of the season, although some mistakes and reliability problems allowed Auriol to close in and make the title race a closer fight than most predicted.

Freddy Loix had a solid run to fourth in Australia, one of his strongest performances of the season.

Behind the Belgian, the SEATs, Peugeots and Ford number two Thomas Radstrom were unable to progress beyond a tense battle for the final points-scoring positions.

Kenneth Eriksson won Formula Two, but with his Hyundai team-mate Alister McRae only fourth in class, that will probably not be enough to stop the final F2 title from going to Renault.

Gustavo Trelles clinched his fourth consecutive Group N drivers' title in Australia after his main rival Hamed Al Wahaibi was forced to retire.

Trelles didn't finish either, allowing local man Ed Ordynski to take the class win, snatching the lead from Uwe Nittel late on the final leg.

With the destiny of the title battle now decided, the season finale in Britain is likely to be all about the home heroes Colin McRae and Richard Burns.

The latter will go there on a high after his commanding performance 'Down Under,' but McRae has vowed to make up for crashing out in Australia by winning at home again.

Rally Australia positions after Stage 22:







































































































1


Richard Burns


Subaru Impreza


3h42m55.3s


2


Carlos Sainz


Toyota Corolla


3h43m07.0s


3


Tommi Makinen


Mitsubishi Lancer


3h47m20.2s


4


Freddy Loix


Mitsubishi Carisma


3h50m23.0s


5


Marcus Gronholm


Peugeot 206


3h50m50.1s


6


Harri Rovanpera


SEAT Cordoba


3h51m02.6s


7


Thomas Radstrom


Ford Focus


3h51m23.0s


8


Toshihiro Arai


Subaru Impreza


4h04m04.7s


9


Kenneth Eriksson


Hyundai Coupe


4h04m08.2s


10


Martin Rowe


Renault Megane


4h04m39.0s


11


Ed Ordynski


Mitsubishi Lancer


4h04m53.3s


12


Uwe Nittel


Mitsubishi Lancer


4h04m19.4s


13


Mark Higgins


VW Golf


4h08m40.8s


14


Alister McRae


Hyundai Coupe


4h10m10.2s


15


Katsuhiko Taguchi


Mitsubishi Lancer


4h10m23.2s


16


Toni Gardemeister


SEAT Cordoba


4h11m51.6s


17


Dean Herridge


Subaru Impreza


4h11m56.5s


18


Yujiro Nishio


Subaru Impreza


4h11m59.2s


19


Tapio Laukkanen


Renault Megane


4h12m57.1s


20


Osamu Yamagacchi


Mitsubishi Lancer


4h14m11.3s

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Stage 21: Burns on brink of victory
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