WRC Rally Australia: Andreas Mikkelsen wins Volkswagen's farewell

Andreas Mikkelsen held his nerve to win Rally Australia and claim victory on Volkswagen's World Rally Championship farewell

WRC Rally Australia: Andreas Mikkelsen wins Volkswagen's farewell

The Norwegian led the final round of the 2016 WRC season throughout, but came under increasing pressure from team-mate Sebastien Ogier, with Hyundai's Hayden Paddon emerging as a threat as well.

Mikkelsen started the final morning with just a two-second advantage over Ogier but looked up for the challenge of earning the win the hard way even before his pursuers made crucial errors.

Having bumped his lead up to 2.6s on Sunday's first stage, Mikkelsen watched it soar to more than 20s when Ogier spun on SS20 and Paddon hit a bank and shredded his left-rear tyre.

He topped SS21 to end the Sunday morning loop firmly in command, then drove sensibly on the two stages that ended the rally to win by 14.9s.

"It's been such a perfect end to the season," he said. "I had nothing to lose.

"We challenged the four-time champion and we won fair and square in the same road conditions.

"It's just sad to see this team and the car come to an end. I will miss them."

While powerstage winner Ogier's error was not severe enough to do any damage to his race result, Paddon's dropped him from third - where he was starting to lose touch with the VWs - to fifth behind his two Hyundai team-mates.

He was able to nick fourth back from Dani Sordo by 1.6 seconds before the end of the rally, but Thierry Neuville comfortably held third.

That, plus two points for second on the powerstage, enabled the Belgian to clinch second in the drivers' championship - without Paddon's mistake elevating Neuville, Mikkelsen may have snatched the runner-up position.

Behind the trio of Hyundais Mads Ostberg was a lonely sixth for the M-Sport team, which ended the rally with one Fiesta running after Eric Camilli rolled out of seventh on the final morning.

The Frenchman's mistake promoted Ott Tanak to seventh in M-Sport's customer Fiesta run by the D-MACK team.

It also allowed Skoda's Esapekka Lappi to clinch the WRC2 title with a top-eight finish on a rally he absolutely dominated his class in, finishing more than four and a half minutes clear.

The third VW of Jari-Matti Latvala made it back to ninth after his victory bid ended on the opening morning.

Latvala hit a bridge on the first stage and after damaging his suspension had been clawing back time and positions since.

LEADING POSITIONS:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager Volkswagen Motorsport II Volkswagen 2h46m05.7s
2 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia Volkswagen Motorsport Volkswagen 14.9s
3 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 1m12.6s
4 Hayden Paddon, J.Kennard Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 1m26.7s
5 Dani Sordo, M.Marti Hyundai Motorsport N Hyundai 1m28.3s
6 Mads Ostberg, O.Floene M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 1m41.5s
7 Ott Tanak, R.Molder DMACK World Rally Team Ford 3m04.3s
8 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Skoda Motorsport Skoda 7m32.3s
9 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Volkswagen Motorsport Volkswagen 7m56.9s
10 Lorenzo Bertelli, S.Scattolin FWRT s.r.l. Ford 8m00.1s

DRIVERS' STANDINGS:

Pos Driver Points
1 Sebastien Ogier 268
2 Thierry Neuville 160
3 Andreas Mikkelsen 154
4 Hayden Paddon 138
5 Dani Sordo 130
6 Jari-Matti Latvala 112
7 Mads Ostberg 102
8 Ott Tanak 88
9 Kris Meeke 64
10 Craig Breen 36
11 Eric Camilli 29
12 Esapekka Lappi 16
13 Henning Solberg 14
14 Stephane Lefebvre 12
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 5
23 Nicolas Fuchs 2
24 Armin Kremer 2
25 Valeriy Gorban 1
26 Karl Kruuda 1


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WRC Rally Australia: Mikkelsen set to win after Ogier, Paddon errors

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