Sebastien Ogier clinches fourth title in style on Rally Catalunya

Volkswagen driver Sebastien Ogier claimed his fourth World Rally Championship title with victory on Rally Catalunya

Sebastien Ogier clinches fourth title in style on Rally Catalunya

Ogier secured the title with his 37th win in the WRC, drawing level with Finns Juha Kankunnen and Tommi Makinen for championship successes.

32-year-old Ogier had taken the lead of the event on Friday morning, but trailed Hyundai's Dani Sordo by the end of the first full day as the Spaniard made the most of a favourable road position on the tarmac stages to move into a 17-second lead with two stage wins in the afternoon.

Sordo added to that lead slightly on the opening couple of stages on Saturday morning in his i20 WRC, but was then reeled in by Ogier who set about hounding down the rally leader.

The Frenchman's title bid was then aided by an error from his team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, who dramatically crashed out of third place on SS12 after clipping a barrier and rolling his Polo R WRC onto its roof.

Mikkelsen had been Ogier's nearest challenger in the championship, but his demise meant Ogier needed only to score a point to claim a fourth-successive crown.

But he didn't let up and instead pushed on, recording the fastest times on SS12, SS13 and SS14 to move back ahead of Sordo overall.

He then extended his advantage on the first running of Sunday's loop and cruised through the second to win by 15.6s and cement the title for himself and co-driver Julien Ingrassia - a year after crashing out of the rally on the final Duesaigues stage.

"It's been a tough season but it's fantastic," he said. "To be champion two rallies before the end again is great - I cannot do much more.

"There was a little bit more thinking before this stage, not to do the same as last year, but it's fantastic."

While Sordo was unable to keep pace with Ogier, he nevertheless equalled his best result of the season with second, finishing the best part of a minute clear of his Hyundai team-mates.

Thierry Neuville beat Hayden Paddon to the final podium spot, with Paddon securing his best result to date on a tarmac rally, as the pair ended the event separated by 12.8s.

Kris Meeke had started the final day in fifth, but retired on Sunday morning's first stage with an engine problem - bringing the Citroen driver's untidy event to a premature end.

His exit instead promoted M-Sport's Mads Ostberg to a lonely fifth, who in turn was well clear of the similar DMACK Ford Fiesta of Ott Tanak - who had won the opening stage of the rally.

Behind them, Kevin Abbring sealed his best finish in the WRC with seventh, having enjoyed a trouble-free run throughout the weekend.

Craig Breen broke his driveshaft on Saturday morning but was able to continue after making it back to service and recovered to score the final point in his Citroen DS3, finishing behind respective leading WRC2 runners Jan Kopecky and Pontus Tidemand in their works Skoda Fabia R5s.

Jari-Matti Latvala was fast all weekend in the third Volkswagen Polo R and won Sunday's powerstage, but only after he had retired from the rally on Firday afternoon after breaking his suspension in a crash before rejoining on Saturday.

LEADING FINISHERS AFTER SS19:

-

LEADING POWERSTAGE TIMES:

Pos Driver Team Car Time Gap
1 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Volkswagen Motorsport Volkswagen 7m55.8s -
2 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia Volkswagen Motorsport Volkswagen 7m57.4s 1.6s
3 Dani Sordo, M.Marti Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 7m59.0s 3.2s
4 Hayden Paddon, J.Kennard Hyundai Motorsport N Hyundai 7m59.4s 3.6s
4 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 7m59.4s 3.6s

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

Pos Driver Points
1 Sebastien Ogier 222
2 Andreas Mikkelsen 127
3 Thierry Neuville 127
4 Hayden Paddon 114
5 Dani Sordo 111
6 Jari-Matti Latvala 104
7 Mads Ostberg 90
8 Ott Tanak 61
9 Kris Meeke 54
10 Craig Breen 36
11 Eric Camilli 28
12 Henning Solberg 14
13 Esapekka Lappi 12
14 Stephane Lefebvre 10
15 Martin Prokop 10
16 Kevin Abbring 10
17 Teemu Suninen 9
18 Pontus Tidemand 8
19 Jan Kopecky 8
20 Marcos Ligato 6
21 Elfyn Evans 6
22 Lorenzo Bertelli 4
23 Armin Kremer 2
24 Nicolas Fuchs 2
25 Valeriy Gorban 1
26 Karl Kruuda 1

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Sebastien Ogier on brink of Rally Catalunya win and 2016 WRC title
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