Going into the closing Power Stage just 4.6 seconds covered the top three, but Mikkelsen had a wee slide and a spin and victory was gone in less than the blink of an eye. Ogier secured the stage win and pipped Neuville - surely the man of the rally.
Sébastien Ogier said: “I am incredibly proud of this win. It is certainly one of my best. The first victory in Sweden two years ago, when I beat Sébastien Loeb, was fantastic, but this was even harder-fought. It was certainly one of the most thrilling and exciting ends to a rally – not just for the fans, but also of my career. I obviously feel sorry for Andreas, who came so close to his first win and was involved in an extremely intense battle with us. However, I am sure that this is not the last time we will be duelling for victory. He and Thierry Neuville produced impressive performances.”
Andreas Mikkelsen commented: “We did our utmost right up until the final metre – but unfortunately lost out in the end. I never dreamed that I might one day be disappointed with a podium finish. After all, I have not won all that much yet in my career. However, I had the chance to clinch my maiden WRC victory and came very close to doing so. But I made a slight mistake, spun, and missed out on this opportunity. That is very bitter and very disappointing at the moment, although we can be proud of what we have achieved over the course of the week.”
This was WRC victory number 26 for Ogier, who now equals Carlos Sainz’ record – next stop, Mexico.
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:55:30.5
2. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +6.4
3. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +39.8
4. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:26.0
5. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:31.5
6. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:53.0
7. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS3 WRC) +4:05.8
8. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:26.0
9. Yurii Protasov / Pavlo Cherepin (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +5:32.2
10. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS3 WRC) +6:50.9…