SYDNEY (Reuters) - France’s Sebastien Ogier clinched his third successive world rally championship for Volkswagen on Sunday after winning the Rally of Australia.
The 31-year-old became just the third driver to win three titles in a row, joining his countryman Sebastien Loeb and Finland’s Tommi Makinen.
“It’s an amazing season, the best I’ve ever done,” said Ogier. “No mistakes, so many great performances and this one is once again a very high one.”
Ogier won the final seven stages in Australia, including all five held on Sunday, to win the three-day gravel road event near Coffs Harbour in northern New South Wales.
Teaming up with his longtime co-driver Julien Ingrassia, Ogier completed the rally 12.3 seconds faster than his Finnish teammate, Jari-Matti Latvala.
Northern Ireland’s Kris Meeke finished third, a further 20.3 seconds behind.
“It’s the most difficult rally to open the road and still we managed to win,” Ogier said. “It’s the perfect way to get my third title.”
Ogier’s victory was his seventh in 10 rounds this season, securing the championship with three rallies still to go, and the 31st of his career, moving him above Marcus Gronholm into outright second place overall for the most career wins.
Loeb, who won nine consecutive titles between 2004 and 2023, holds the record with 78 wins.
Ogier became just the third man to win at least three titles. Only Loeb, Juha Kankkunen (four) and Makinen (four) have won more.
Kankkunen won twice in the 1980s and twice in the 1990s while Makinen stitched together four on the trot between 1996 and 1999.
Ogier currently has 235 points this season, 101 more than second-placed Latvala, who has won twice this year. Together, they secured the manufacturer’s title for Volkswagen for the third year in a row.
Denmark’s Andreas Mikkelsen remained third in the standings after finishing fourth in Australia while New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon finished fifth.
The next rally is in Ogier’s homeland of France from Oct. 1-4.
Reporting by Julian Linden; editing by Sudipto Ganguly