Ogier poised to win title in Coffs
FRENCHMAN Sèbastien Ogier will bid to wrap up his third straight FIA World Rally Championship in Coffs Harbour after his flawless win in ADAC Rallye Germany last Sunday.
Ogier will win the championship if he finishes ahead of his closest rival and team mate Jari-Matti Latvala.
The German result was a dream for Volkswagen on its all-important home event and failing bitterly on the past two occasions.
"The pressure was on all weekend," Ogier said.
"Everyone expected us to succeed here finally and we made it with a one-two-three.
"I'm so close to my third title now, so I'm really happy."
Ogier ended Friday's leg 10 seconds clear of Latvala but extended it to more than 30 seconds last Saturday.
Latvala was deflated but second place provided some consolation after crashing out of the lead on the final day 12 months ago.
Third man home Andreas Mikkelsen was chased by Kris Meeke initially but when the Ulsterman went off the road, the Norwegian measured his pace to the finish.
Dani Sordo claimed his best result for almost a year after coming out on top of an inter-team fight with Hyundai i20 colleague Thierry Neuville.
Elfyn Evans prevented Volkswagen achieving a clean sweep of stage wins on Sunday en route to sixth in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS.
Mads Østberg finished seventh in a disappointing weekend for Citroën, with Ott Tänak eighth after twice going off the road.
New Zealander Hayden Paddon was a frustrated ninth following turbocharger problems in his Hyundai i20 with World Rally Car debutant Stéphane Lefebvre rounding off the top 10.
Ogier heads to Australia already with a 93-point lead over Latvala.
Should he and co-driver Julien Ingrassia emerge from the Coffs Coast event with 84 points of their lead over their fellow Volkswagen crews of Latvala/Miikka Anttila and Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene intact, the defending champions will claim their third respective titles.
Volkswagen also is closing on the Manufacturer's Championship which it secured in Australia last year with an identical 1-2-3 finish.
Coates Hire Rally Australia has attracted 27 entries in the WRC category, including a strong contingent of national crews.
Entrants in the ECB Australian Rally Championship support round will be announced later this week.