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MADRID (Reuters) - Andreas Mikkelsen secured a maiden world rally triumph when champion Sebastien Ogier crashed in spectacular style on the final stage of the penultimate race of the season in Spain on Sunday.
Frenchman Ogier, who clinched his third successive title for Volkswagen in Australia last month, careered into a roadside barrier less than 4 kilometers from the finish, losing his rear right wheel in the process.
Airlifted to hospital for checks and later passed fit, Ogier had led overnight and was closing on an eighth victory of the season at the event south of Barcelona.
Norwegian Mikkelsen, also of Volkswagen, edged another team mate, Jari-Matti Latvala of Finland, into second, claiming a first win in 64 races that kept alive his hopes of beating Latvala for second in the overall standings.
"It was absurd because Ogier never makes mistakes so when they told me I didn’t believe it," Mikkelsen said.
"It was a big surprise, and although it’s not the way I want to win a rally, we’ve been so close so many times that I feel I really deserve this one," added the 26-year-old.
Mikkelsen finished 3.1 seconds ahead of Latvala, with Spaniard Dani Sordo of Hyundai a further 18.1 seconds behind in third.
The final round of the season is the Wales Rally GB from Nov. 12-15.
Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Toby Davis