Mikkelsen Rounds Out VW Tenure with 1-2 at Rally Australia

Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR), Anders Jæger (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC (2016) WRC Rally Australia 2016 Photo: Helena El Mokni

After four years and four titles in the driver’s and teams competitions, Volkswagen Motorsport sign off their career in the World Rally Championship with a 1-2 at Kennards Hire Rally Australia 2016. It was Andreas Mikkelsen who took the overall win after fending off Sebastien Ogier, who’d already claimed the driver’s title.

Mikkelsen had led since the opening day, but had seen his lead waver after  a tricky day two. Ogier had been closing in until a spin from the Frenchman on the Bucca stage, dropping him back. In the end, the Norwegian won his first ever Rally Australia, his third in WRC history.

“This is a perfect end to the season,” said Mikkelsen. “All year consistency and pace was our aim with the championship in mind, but I came here with nothing to lose. I could go flat-out and see what we could do.

“We challenged the world champion and beat him fair and square on the same road conditions. It’s my best victory but it’s sad to see this team and the car come to an end.”

Behind the unfathomable VW’s was the Hyundai of Thierry Neuville. Despite main rival Mikkelsen winning the Rally the Belgium driver still secured second in the standings, ensuring the top three in the championship, filled the podium.

Sadly for Hayden Paddon, he was forced to settle for fourth after a hit, knocking the rear wheel rim. It didn’t end his weekend, but the damage to his victory chances were adamant to see, finishing over a minute behind Mikkelsen.

Thierry Neuville will finish the season as runner-up in the title battle. (Credit: Hyundai Motorsport)
Thierry Neuville will finish the season as runner-up in the title battle. (Credit: Hyundai Motorsport)

Despite Paddon’s issues, he would finish almost two seconds ahead of Dani Sordo, who seemed unable to recover from his Day One problems. Rounding out the top six was Norweigan driver Mads Ostberg in the M-Sport World Rally Team. Neither had too much to fight for, other than pride, after a solid performance from both.

The loneliest racer proved to be Ott Tanak, whose seventh place was over a minute behind Otsberg and a further four and half minutes in front of his nearest rival. Mikkelsen’s win was only his third of all time and secured him third in the fight for runners-up.

WRC-2 Title Battle

In WRC-2, it was a Rally victory for Esapekka Lappi rounded out an untouchable end of season, in which he also took the series title. He eventually coasted the line after putting in the hard work on previous days.

The podium was rounded out by Peru’s Nicolas Fuchs and Poland’s Hubert Ptaszek. It’s been a season controlled by three drivers, with Teemu Suninen and Elfyn Evans rounding out the top three in the championship. Each driver took at least three wins a piece with only two other rallies claiming unique winners.

Elsewhere, Jari Matti Latvala secured a meager ninth after a spirited recovery. While, a late roll over for Eric Camilli allowed Lorenzo Bertelli into only his second points scoring race of the year in tenth.