Ogier rules world rally for 6th year

Toy­ota claim 2018 con­struc­tors’ ti­tle in Aus­tralia

Global Times US Edition - - SPORTS -

Dom­i­nant French­man Se­bastien Ogier clinched his sixth world rally ti­tle on Sun­day in a grip­ping fi­nal race of the year in Aus­tralia, deny­ing Bel­gian Thierry Neuville and Es­to­nia’s Ott Tanak maiden crowns.

In one of the clos­est sea­sons of re­cent times, the M-Sport Ford driver came to Coffs Har­bour with a three-point cush­ion over Hyundai’s Neuville and 23 in front of Toy­ota ace Tanak.

All he needed to do was to stay ahead of the Bel­gian and in touch with Tanak over the three days of fran­tic driv­ing along dusty and slip­pery roads.

The ex­pe­ri­enced cam­paigner and his co-driver Julien In­gras­sia did just that, get­ting an early edge when Neuville lost 40 sec­onds on Day 1 af­ter blow­ing a tire.

When Neuville swiped a bank and ripped a wheel from his car and Tanak clipped a tree, forc­ing their re­tire­ments as they took risks in a des­per­ate bid to make up time on Sun­day af­ter­noon, the ti­tle was his be­fore the rally fin­ished.

Toy­ota (368 points) won the con­struc­tors’ cham­pi­onship ahead of Hyundai (341), M-Sport Ford (324) and Citroen (237).

Ogier ad­mit­ted he drove some of the stages on Sun­day “like my grandma would do,” know­ing any mis­takes could be costly at a race won by Fin­nish Toy­ota driver Jari-Matti Lat­vala, 32.5 sec­onds ahead of New Zealand’s Hay­den Pad­don in a Hyundai.

“It’s been an in­cred­i­ble sea­son, so tough, and this is so emo­tional,” said the French­man, who fin­ished fifth in Aus­tralia.

He has now won six ti­tles in a row to move within three of the great­est driver ever, fel­low French­man Se­bastien Loeb, who claimed nine on the trot be­tween 2004-12.

It was his last race for Ford ahead of a switch next year to Citroen on a two-year deal.

He was part of the Citroen team be­tween 2008-11 be­fore de­camp­ing to Volk­swa­gen be­tween 2013-16 when he won four world ti­tles, and then MS­port Ford where he won his fifth and sixth.

The rain that had been fore­cast for the re­gion fi­nally ar- rived early Sun­day, leav­ing the for­est roads treach­er­ously slip­pery, as overnight leader Tanak found to his cost, slid­ing into the trees on Stage 2 of the day.

He lost 12 sec­onds with team­mate Lat­vala tak­ing the over­all lead in a race that the Es­to­nian had to not only win but also claim bonus points in the event-clos­ing stage to have any hope of eclips­ing Ogier.

The mea­sured French­man was tak­ing no risks, un­like Neuville who touched a bank while push­ing hard and then had ex­haust trou­ble in morn­ing ac­tion.

De­spite this, he man­aged to chip away at the lead, but it was ul­ti­mately fu­tile.

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