Frenchman Sébastien Ogier will contest Kennards Hire Rally Australia next month as the 2017 World Rally Champion after clinching his fifth consecutive title on the penultimate round in Wales on Sunday October 29. Dayinsure Wales Rally GB was won by Ogier’s M-Sport teammate Elfyn Evans, with Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville 37.3 seconds behind.

A further 7.9 sec back, Ogier took third place and enough points to put his championship beyond challenge before the series finale on the NSW Coffs Coast on 16-19 November. With a third M-Sport Ford Fiesta driver Ott Tänak finishing sixth, the British privateer team capped an historic weekend by taking the WRC manufacturers’ championship for the first time in 10 years.

Evans not only took his first WRC victory – and on Welsh home soil – but dominated the four-day rally. He set fastest times on nine of the 21 stages and, despite the challenges of rain, fog and muddy roads, held on to the overall lead from the first speed test on Friday 27 October. He became the seventh different winner and the third first-time winner, alongside Tänak and Toyota’s Esapekka Lappi, in what has been the most competitive WRC season in decades. Co-driven by Daniel Barritt, Evans was the first British driver to win the home round since 2000.

Rally Australia Chairman Ben Rainsford congratulated the winners and said the result guaranteed fans next month would see the world’s best drivers in action.

“Malcolm Wilson and the M-Sport team pulled off an extraordinary achievement at Wales Rally GB. The manufacturers’ championship, drivers’ championship, co-drivers’ championship (for Ogier’s co-driver Julien Ingrassia) and a home-round win in one weekend is amazing,” Rainsford said. “It will be a thrill to see the new world champions in action at Rally Australia, but there will also be unfinished business on the Coffs Coast. There’s still a battle for second in the WRC to be settled between Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak and of course we’ll host the Australian Rally Championship decider between Molly Taylor and Nathan Quinn.

“I predict the gloves will now be off at Rally Australia. With the new faster louder and wilder-looking WRC cars making their first appearance Down Under, we’re going to host a cracking climax to the 2017 season.”

Ogier was emotional after claiming a hard-fought championship, during which he has won only two of the 12 rounds so far but finished on the podium a further seven times.

“I don't know what to say. It’s just incredible. Thank you so much to the whole M-Sport team and Malcolm. It was a hard job. We work all very hard. It’s amazing to be World Champion with this team,” he said through tears. “I had very, very strong emotions on the finish line. I’m very happy for Elfyn. It’s amazing for M-Sport – victory, two guys on the podium, the manufacturers’ championship, drivers’ world championship – everything!”

Evans added: “It's been a good rally. I'm incredibly grateful to everybody that has stood by me through all these years – to get to this point has taken a lot. To all the people who have supported me and backed me – this is for you. And this result only makes us even hungrier for more.”

WRC teams will now have barely a week to return to their bases and prepare their cars before they are air-freighted to Australia. Organisers are planning a big welcome for the international and Australian teams entered, with a free Rally Show and Ceremonial Start expected to attract thousands of fans to the closed main street of Coffs Harbour on Thursday 16 November. The competitors’ service park at C.ex International Stadium will be a hub of rally activity and free entertainment, including driver appearances, music concerts, fireworks, student visits, souvenir sales and a $5000 cash giveaway, throughout the weekend.

Tickets are on sale at www.ticketek.com.au, with a 2-for-1 offer on a $99 all-stages passes available until Tuesday October 31.

RESULTS (provisional)

Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (round 12 of 13):
1) Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2h57m00.6s
2) Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +37.3
3) Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrasia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +45.2
4) Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +49.8
5) Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +50.3
6) Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:02.3
7) Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) 1:20.5
8) Hayden Paddon/Sebastian Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe) +2:16.3
9) Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:46.5
10) Dani Sordo/Marc Marti (Hyundai i0 Coupe WRC) +3:50.5

Reigning FIA World Rally Champions Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia rounded off a near perfect season with victory on the final round of the championship, Wales Rally GB. A faultless performance by the Volkswagen crew saw them battle through wind and driving rain in the Welsh forests to claim their eighth win of the season, this time ahead of Citroën’s Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle and with 26 seconds in hand. Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Floene finished third, giving the Polo R WRC 26 podium results in 2015, its most successful season to date.

In the FIA World Rally Championship, Ogier, Ingrassia and Volkswagen Motorsport wrapped up the titles earlier in the season, but second and third positions are now confirmed for Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila and Mikkelsen/Floene respectively*. In the all-important Manufacturers’ Championship, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team fought hard to retain second ahead of Hyundai Motorsport.

Today’s route was by far the shortest with four stages and 36.43 competitive kilometres, but driving rain and gale force winds once again added to the challenge of one of the most traditional events on the WRC calendar. Neither Ogier, Meeke nor Mikkelsen needed to push to the maximum through the closing stages, leaving Latvala to take a clean sweep of stage victories, as well as claiming the additional points for the Power Stage win. Mikkelsen added to his tally with points for second and Robert Kubica, who finished ninth overall, was third in this stage.

Behind the leading trio, Dani Sordo moved into fourth following the retirement of Ott Tanak, the Estonian off the road in the first stage. Sordo’s team-mate Hayden Paddon finished under 10 seconds adrift in fifth and local hero Elfyn Evans was sixth in the lead Fiesta RS WRC. After his problems throughout the event, Mads Østberg eventually finished seventh and Stephane Lefebvre moved one place higher, into eighth, in his debut outing on the event in a world rally car. Lorenzo Bertelli moved back into the top 10, following Tanak’s retirement.

In the FIA WRC 2 Championship, Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula took a surprise win. The Finns were behind Eric Camilli going into the final stage but benefitted when the Frenchman had turbo problems and lost nearly a minute. In the FIA Junior / WRC 3 Championships, Norway’s Ole Christian Veiby and Anders Jaeger took their first win in the category, but the WRC 3 Championship title was provisionally claimed by Quentin Gilbert and Renaud Jamoul, who also won the Junior WRC Championship earlier in the year*.

The FIA World Rally Championship contenders now take a well-earned break from competition but return to action in January when the famous Rallye Monte-Carlo marks the start of the new season.

Wales Rally GB – Final Unofficial Results

1. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia

Volkswagen Polo R WRC

3hr 03min 02.0sec

2. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle

DS 3 WRC

3hr 03min 28.0sec

3. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene

Volkswagen Polo R WRC

3hr 03min 38.2sec

4. Dani Sordo/Marc Marti

Hyundai i20 WRC

3hr 05min 53.3sec

5. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard

Hyundai i20 WRC

3hr 06min 02.5sec

6. Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

3hr 06min 11.1sec

7. Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson

DS 3 WRC

3hr 07min 30.4sec

8. Stephane Lefebvre/Stephane Prevot

DS 3 WRC

3hr 08min 40.4sec

9. Robert Kubica/Maciek Szczepaniak

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

3hr 09min 24.7sec

10. Lorenzo Bertelli/Lorenzo Granai

Ford Fiestas RS WRC

3hr 11min 07.0sec

FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers (after 13 of 13 rounds)

Sébastien Ogier (FRA)

263 points

Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)

183 points

Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)

171 points

Mads Østberg (NOR)

116 points

Kris Meeke (GBR)

112 points

Thierry Neuville (BEL)

90 points

Elfyn Evans (GBR)

89 points

Dani Sordo (ESP)

89 points

Hayden Paddon (NZL)

84 points

Ott Tanak (EST)

63 points