Despite finishing in the fifth position at the Rally of Australia, Sebastien Ogier has claimed his sixth consecutive World Rally Championship (WRC) while Toyota has won the Constructors’ Title.
The victory at the Australasian country was for Jari-Matti Latvala, followed by Hayden Paddon and Mads Ostberg. An extraordinary finale for one of the most exciting seasons of recent years.
Neuville and Tänak shrink before Ogier
The second consecutive and last title for Ogier with the M-Sport Ford team (now only three titles away from his compatriot of the same name Loeb), was decided in the last stages of Sunday at the Rally of Australia.
His two rivals for the title, Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak, failed in their performances, serving him the victory on a silver platter. First Neuville and then Tänak (Ford Fiesta WRC), suffered two separate incidents on the most decisive day of the Rally of Australia.
The Belgian driver, under pressure being far from Ogier, made a fatal mistake. On board his Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC, he ended up ruining his title chances and watched the coveted award slip away once again. Ogier’s experience and mastery is still hard to beat both for him and for anyone else.
As for Tänak, the third title candidate, there was more of the same. Toyota’s Estonian driver, the worst placed of the three contestants for the victory, knew that he had to take risks. The Rally of Australia was a bit of a gamble for him; an all or nothing.
Fortune was not to be on his side this time despite the great fitness and leadership he displayed on Saturday. He was hoping to play for the gold on the day, next to his partner Latvala, as they waited for their enemies to make a mistake.
With the sixth title in his pocket, the Frenchman claimed that stage too. The triumph in the last rally of the year, however, was for Jari Matti Latvala, with a 32 seconds advantage over Hayden Paddon (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) and a 52s one over Mads Ostber (Citroën C3 WRC).
Ogier’s comeback: Pure experience and talent
Sebastien Ogier has performed a remarkable comeback over the final stretch of the season. There is no doubt that his experience and talent have prevailed. He re-entered the title fight by winning the Wales-Great Britain Rally. There, he put an end to Ott Tänak’s three-race winning streak, the strongest and favourite at the time.
At the next race, he completed his ascent. He got the leading position in the standings at the penultimate race of the year, the Catalonian Rally, dethroning Neuville, who had had four victories so far. A combination of mastery and luck have earned him a well-deserved new trophy.
With this new crown, the French monarch has extended his absolutist reign in the category to become one of the legends that inhabit the Olympus of Motorsport.
Toyota: Constructor Champion
An unsurprising outcome for the Constructors’ Championship at the Rally of Australia. As with the drivers’ crown, there were three contestants in the fight for the title: Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT, M-Sport Ford WRT and Toyota Gazoo Racing.
Thanks to Latvala’s victory and the misfortunes of Hyundai’s Neuvillle and Mikelsen, the Japanese squad has taken the glory with a 27 point advantage.
19 years after their return in 2017, the Japanese manufacturers have finally uncorked the champagne. This success has been possible thanks to Tänak and Latvala’s five victories.
Main image: @WRC.