Neuville wins as Latvala throws away second
WRC Rally Australia

Neuville wins as Latvala throws away second

Thierry Neuville won the final round of the 2017 World Rally Championship as his closest challenger, Jari-Matti Latvala, crashed out of second place on Rally Australia's Power Stage.

Neuville beat Ott Tanak, who jumped into second place after Latvala's error, by 22.5 seconds to claim his fourth victory of the season.

Neuville's team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen led the rally overnight on Friday in only his third outing with the team, winning five of the opening six stages.

However, Mikkelsen's chances of repeating his 2016 victory at this event evaporated when his i20 suffered a double puncture on the second stage of the Saturday morning loop.

He only carried one spare tyre and the Norwegian was forced to retire, promoting Neuville into the lead of the rally.

The Belgian fended off his main challenger Latvala for the remainder of the rally, which included being 32.2s off the pace on Bucca - Sunday morning's second stage and left Neuville just 9.9s clear of Latvala.

Crucially, Neuville responded with the fastest time on the next stage, bolstering his lead by a further 4.8s after what he labelled as a "clever" drive in damp conditions. The penultimate stage of the day was cancelled because of the bad weather.

This left the Power Stage as the sole test following the Sunday service break, and in a heartbreaking twist, Latvala clipped the inside of a long left-hander and flew into a tree, instantly ending his rally and handing second place to Tanak on his M-Sport swansong.

Rally Australia will be one Citroen would rather forget with all three cars hitting major trouble.

Kris Meeke ran as high as second on Friday but broke his right-rear suspension when he hit a bridge on SS12, he retired but rejoined under Rally2 for Sunday along with Mikkelsen and the sole WRC2 entry of Kalle Rovanpera.

Craig Breen had been set for fourth place before he rolled his Citroen C3 into retirement in dramatic fashion on SS18.

The third Citroen of Stephane Lefebvre clipped a tree and retired on the stage prior to Breen's roll.

With Latvala, Meeke and Breen hitting trouble, Hayden Paddon seized the final place on the podium, which marks only his second top-three of 2017.

Sebastien Ogier, who sealed his fifth WRC crown last time out in Wales, finished the rally in a distant fourth position but pipped his departing M-Sport team-mate Tanak to maximum points on the powerstage.

His rally was riddled with gearbox issues, a one-minute time penalty for arriving at a stage too early, and a general lack of rhythm or speed in his Fiesta.

Rally GB winner Elfyn Evans finished the rally in fifth position. He bemoaned the "horrendously bad" grip on his DMACKs all weekend but avoided any major dramas to secure 10 points in what is expected to be his final rally with the tyre manufacturer.

Esapekka Lappi suffered a three-minute delay on the opening day due to a power steering issue and failed to recover the lost ground, ending the rally in sixth place ahead of the recovering Kris Meeke.

Both drivers picked up Power Stage points with Lappi third and Meeke fifth fastest, separated by early rally leader Mikkelsen.

Related news

Nico Hulkenberg quickest, but Ferrari finishes opening test on a high

Nico Hulkenberg quickest, but Ferrari finishes opening test on a high

Nico Hulkenberg finished the first test of 2019 at the top of the timesheets, but it is Ferrari who can leave with bragging rights after another impressive day at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Daniil Kvyat sets fastest time of F1 winter testing for Toro Rosso

Daniil Kvyat sets fastest time of F1 winter testing for Toro Rosso

Daniil Kvyat set the fastest time so far at this week's test on Wednesday, putting Toro Rosso at the top of the timesheets.

Charles Leclerc keeps Ferrari on top in testing

Charles Leclerc keeps Ferrari on top in testing

New recruit Charles Leclerc kept Ferrari on top of the timesheets, and did more laps than any other driver, on the second day of Formula One's pre-season testing in Spain on Tuesday.

Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari make strong start to 2019 by topping opening test

Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari make strong start to 2019 by topping opening test

Sebastian Vettel topped the first day of Formula One's preseason after Ferrari made an impressive start to testing.

Ott Tanak wins in Sweden to lead championship

Ott Tanak wins in Sweden to lead championship

Estonian Ott Tanak won Rally Sweden for Toyota on Sunday to take the lead in the world rally championship for the first time in his career.

Tanak leads Rally Sweden into final day

Tanak leads Rally Sweden into final day

Estonian Ott Tanak will lead Rally Sweden into the final day after finishing Saturday's penultimate leg nearly a minute clear.

Suninen shines on first day in Sweden

Suninen shines on first day in Sweden

Finnish driver Teemu Suninen led after the first day of Rally Sweden on Friday while championship leader Sebastien Ogier retired his Citroen after getting stuck in snow.

Ferrari unveil new Formula One car for new era

Ferrari unveil new Formula One car for new era

Ferrari has unveiled the car it hopes can halt Mercedes' recent dominance of Formula One and claim its first championship in over a decade.

Kimi Raikkonen drives 2019 Alfa Romeo F1 car in Valentine's Day livery

Kimi Raikkonen drives 2019 Alfa Romeo F1 car in Valentine's Day livery

Kimi Raikkonen clocked up his first 100 kilometres in the new Alfa Romeo Formula One car on Thursday, after completing 33 laps of Ferrari's Fiorano test track.

RELATED NEWS

Nico Hulkenberg quickest, but Ferrari finishes opening test on a high
Formula 1

Nico Hulkenberg quickest, but Ferrari finishes opening test on a high

Nico Hulkenberg finished the first test of 2019 at the top of the timesheets, but it is Ferrari who can leave with bragging rights after another impressive day at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Daniil Kvyat sets fastest time of F1 winter testing for Toro Rosso
Formula 1

Daniil Kvyat sets fastest time of F1 winter testing for Toro Rosso

Daniil Kvyat set the fastest time so far at this week's test on Wednesday, putting Toro Rosso at the top of the timesheets.

Charles Leclerc keeps Ferrari on top in testing
Formula 1

Charles Leclerc keeps Ferrari on top in testing

New recruit Charles Leclerc kept Ferrari on top of the timesheets, and did more laps than any other driver, on the second day of Formula One's pre-season testing in Spain on Tuesday.

Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari make strong start to 2019 by topping opening test
Formula 1

Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari make strong start to 2019 by topping opening test

Sebastian Vettel topped the first day of Formula One's preseason after Ferrari made an impressive start to testing.

Ott Tanak wins in Sweden to lead championship
WRC Rally Sweden

Ott Tanak wins in Sweden to lead championship

Estonian Ott Tanak won Rally Sweden for Toyota on Sunday to take the lead in the world rally championship for the first time in his career.

Tanak leads Rally Sweden into final day
WRC Rally Sweden

Tanak leads Rally Sweden into final day

Estonian Ott Tanak will lead Rally Sweden into the final day after finishing Saturday's penultimate leg nearly a minute clear.

Suninen shines on first day in Sweden
WRC Rally Sweden

Suninen shines on first day in Sweden

Finnish driver Teemu Suninen led after the first day of Rally Sweden on Friday while championship leader Sebastien Ogier retired his Citroen after getting stuck in snow.

Ferrari unveil new Formula One car for new era
Formula 1

Ferrari unveil new Formula One car for new era

Ferrari has unveiled the car it hopes can halt Mercedes' recent dominance of Formula One and claim its first championship in over a decade.

Kimi Raikkonen drives 2019 Alfa Romeo F1 car in Valentine's Day livery
Formula 1

Kimi Raikkonen drives 2019 Alfa Romeo F1 car in Valentine's Day livery

Kimi Raikkonen clocked up his first 100 kilometres in the new Alfa Romeo Formula One car on Thursday, after completing 33 laps of Ferrari's Fiorano test track.