VW take 1–2 in WRC finale, Paddon 4th
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Volkswagen Motorsport has signed off from the World Rally Championship with a commanding 1-2 victory at WRC Rally Australia this afternoon.
Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen maintained his advantage over four-time world champ Sebastien Ogier (France) through the final two stages just north of Coffs Harbour to win the season finale by 14.9secs and claim the third WRC win of his career.
Volkswagen entered the World Rally Championship in 2013 and has been the dominant force with Manufacturers’, Driver’s and Co-driver’s titles in each of those four years.
The German marque shocked the motorsport world less than three weeks ago when it announced the rally programme would stop, a casualty of the so-called ``Dieselgate’’ emissions scandal.
Mikkelsen’s victory is the 43rd for the Volkswagen Polo R in 52 WRC events since the team debuted at the Monte Carlo Rally in 2013.
Ogier had already clinched his fourth consecutive Driver’s title before Rally Australia while a third place finish today means Hyundai’s Belgian driver Thierry Neuville secures the runner-up honours in the championship. Neuville completed the podium in Australia, 57.7secs behind Ogier.
New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) ended the season with an afternoon flourish, punching in fast times on the final two stages to climb back into fourth position - one spot better than his previous best effort at Rally Australia.
The Kiwi star had started the day in third position but dropped to fifth when he nudged a bank in the second stage of the day and knocked the left rear tyre off the rim. He moved past team-mate Dani Sordo (Spain) in the penultimate stage to reclaim fourth position.
Norway’s Mads Ostberg (Ford) completed the top-six and Finland’s Esapekka Lappi (Skoda Fabia R5) completed a careful run to eighth overall, scoring his fourth win of the year in the WRC2 category to secure the second-tier world title.