Ogier wins Rally Australia in dominant fashion
COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) — Sebastien Ogier won Rally Australia in dominant fashion on Sunday but will have to wait to clinch the 2013 World Rally Championship title.
The French driver steered his Volkswagen Polo R through the final 29-kilometer (18-mile) stage to win his sixth event of the season by 1 minute, 32 seconds ahead of Thierry Neuville of Belgium, who took second place overall on the final stage after Finland’s Mikko Hirvonen had a tire puncture.
Neuville’s second place prevented Ogier, who won 19 of 22 stages in Australia, from taking enough points to secure the drivers’ title in Australia.
Ogier needed Neuville to finish third or worse to clinch it.
“The team told me at the finish line that I had missed the title by one point because Mikko had a problem,” Ogier said. “The most important thing is that we did another perfect rally and we thought it was OK for the title, but it can’t be written down yet.
“When you do a perfect job like that you expect to get it, but it’s going to happen soon.”
There are three events remaining in this year’s championship — in France from Oct. 3-6, Spain from Oct. 24-27 and in Wales from Nov. 14-17.
Hirvonen had one of his best performances of the season in his Citroen until his rear left tire punctured midway through the last stage.
“I have absolutely no idea what happened. I drove in the middle of the road all the time and I can’t understand how we got a puncture,” said Hirvonen.
Hirvonen lost almost a minute and that was enough to allow Neuville through to second for a fifth consecutive podium in his Ford Fiesta.
Jari-Matti Latvala finished fourth in another Polo R and Mads Ostberg in a Fiesta was fifth.