Rally Australia: One more last victory for Volkswagen Motorsport
Andreas Mikkelsen wins the 2016 Rally Australia, bringing one last victory to Volkswagen Motorsport ahead of team’s withdrawal from the World Rally Championship. This is Mikkelsen’s third win in a career and it secures him a third spot in the 2016 WRC classification, behind four-time world champion Sebastien Ogier and Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville. Ogier finished second in Australia, Neuville completed the podium with a third-place finish, taking the runner-up spot in the championship by six points.
Mikkelsen was the leader from the beginning, losing the first place only at SS2 on Friday, but after he returned to the top after the SS3, he remained in the lead to the end, showing the masterful performance in the Volkswagen Polo R WRC and scoring the 43rd victory for German car. After 23 special stages, Ogier was 14.9 seconds behind his teammate, while Neuville was 1 minute 12.6 seconds back. Both Ogier and Neuville scored additional points at the Power Stage, but it didn’t changed the overall championship classification.
Hayden Paddon finished fourth in Australia. He was fastest of three Hyundai drivers and running third, 14.4 seconds behind Mikkelsen, until he suffered massive puncture at Sunday’s Special Stage 20. He lost more than a minute and dropped to fifth. He progressed for one position until the end, finishing 1.6 seconds ahead of teammate Dani Sordo.
Ford drivers Mads Ostberg and Ott Tanak are sixth and seventh respectively, ahead of best WRC2 driver Esapekka Lappi. The Finnish driver in the #31 Škoda Fabia became the 216 WRC2 champion. Volkswagen’s Finn Jari-Mati Latvala finished 9th in Australia, almost eight minutes behind Mikkelsen, as a result of broken suspension on Friday. Italian Lorenzo Bertelli took the one last point in the overall classification of the last round for 2016 WRC season.
The 2017 WRC season will start soon, on January 18, with 85th edition of Rallye Monte-Carlo. In the next two months we will have an answer to the question what Ogier and other two Volkswagen teammates would drive in 2017.