Rally Australia: Neuville closes a season with his fourth victory
Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) scored his fourth win of the season by winning the Rally Australia, the final event of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship season. The Belgian has won most rallies in 2017 but that is good enough for just second place in the championship, behind Sebastien Ogier (M-Sport Ford) who already secured his fifth championship title in the previous event.
Neuville secured silver in the championship ahead of Ott Tanak (M-Sport Ford), who ended second at Rally Australia. Tanak was promoted to the second podium spot after Jari-Matti Latvala crashed out his Toyota Yaris on the last special stage, the Power Stage Wedding Bells. Latvala’s mistake also promoted Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) to third spot on a podium.
A double podium make weekend better for Hyundai after a drama on Saturday, when rally leader Andreas Mikkelsen had to retire after SS10 due to double puncture and just one spare tyre. Mikkelsen rejoined rally on Sunday with penalty-time, finishing 13th at the end. Kris Meeke (Citroen) also retired as a front-runner, from the third place after SS12.
At the end, after 21 stages, Sebastien Ogier finished fourth, ahead of Elfyn Evans (Ford) and Esapekka Lappi (Toyota). Meeke rejoined on Sunday to finish 7th. Three Australians finished the race in the top 10 – Richie Dalton (Škoda Fabia R5), Nathan Quinn (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) and Dean Herridge (Subaru Impreza WRX STi).