Andreas Mikkelsen ended his Volkswagen spell with win at Kennards Hire Rally Australia. He repelled a fierce attack from team-mate and world champion Sébastien Ogier, who spun away his victory chances on the dusty Bucca speed test. Mikkelsen achieved his third career win by 14.9sec over his Polo R colleague.
However it wasn’t enough to secure the Norwegian the runner-up position in the drivers’ standings. Third place went to Thierry Neuville in a Hyundai i20 that result clinched second in the points for the Belgian behind the already-crowned Ogier.
Mikkelsen and Ogier delivered a perfect finale to four years of WRC domination by the German manufacturer. It was the team’s 43rd win from 52 rallies and came after an exciting conclusion in sweltering and dusty New South Wales forests near Coffs Harbour.
“This is a perfect end to the season,” said Mikkelsen. “All year consistency and pace was our aim with the championship in mind, but I came here with nothing to lose. I could go flat out and see what we could do. We challenged the world champion and beat him fair and square on the same road conditions. It’s my best victory but it’s sad to see this team and the car come to an end.”
Hayden Paddon had an outside chance of victory in third but his i20 swiped a bank and knocked the rear left tyre off the rim. The time loss promoted Neuville onto the podium. Paddon’s problems relegated the Kiwi to fifth, but he overhauled team-mate Dani Sordo for fourth by 1.6sec. Mads Østberg couldn’t keep Sordo behind him after dust inside his Ford Fiesta RS impaired visibility and he finished sixth, while team-mate Eric Camilli rolled out of seventh after hitting a bank.