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Volkswagen's WRC era ends with another 1-2

NZN 19/11/2016 Scott Bailey

Andreas Mikkelsen put the exclamation mark on Volkswagen's era of dominance on Sunday, claiming the team's 20th 1-2 World Rally Championship finish in four years at the season-ending Australian round.

Norwegian Mikkelsen led home world champion teammate Sebastien Ogier by 14.9 seconds after 23 stages on Sunday, in what was the team's last event before leaving the sport.

"This last victory is definitely for them, they gave me the chance to come into WRC from the very beginning, " Mikkelsen said.

"I hope I gave back what they have given me."

The German manufacturer shocked the sport earlier this month by announcing their departure following the brand's emissions scandal.

Since bringing the Polo into the championship four years ago, they have won 43 of 53 stages and claimed 625 of a possible 940 stage wins.

However the team missed out on their fourth consecutive one-two in the drivers' championship, after Hyundai's Thierry Neuville finished the race in third place to clinch the runners-up position.

Mikkelsen dominated the rally, leading the overall standings after all but one stage and overcoming a bizarre incident on Saturday when his clutch became stuck on his brake pedal midway through a stage.

The 27-year-old started the final day two seconds clear of Ogier.

That gap was extended on the first stage of the day, before the Frenchman spun on the 20th stage, costing him 19.6 seconds in the race for the lead and virtually handing the rally to his teammate.

Ogier was then particularly emotional going into the final stage, having won four championships with Volkswagen since 2012.

"The tears were really in my eyes," he said.

"At the end of the last stage I was close. It's been amazing years that we have had."

The spin would have dropped out of the top two if not for a puncture suffered by then-third placed Hayden Paddon.

The New Zealander had vowed to drive to the extreme to try and chase a win after starting the day 12 seconds behind.

But he went wide on a turn and suffered external damage to his Hyundai, a shredded left rear costing him 73 seconds.

He recovered to finish fourth, however his problem proved a blessing in disguise for Hyundai as it promoted Neuville to third and gifted him second in the championship.

The race was also delayed on the 21st stage for almost half hour when Eric Camilli rolled his M-Sport vehicle onto its side and then it's roof, before a small fire broke out in the car.

He was retired from the race but escaped without serious injury.

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