Ben Searcy and Eli Evans, 2018 ARC Champions. Image: Wishart Media.
Finn Jari-Matti Latvala has won a dramatic Rally Australia this weekend, around the Coffs Coast in northern New South Wales. The victory was his first of the FIA World Rally Championship season.
And my mate Sébastien Ogier, the French superstar (pictured right), has won a remarkable sixth consecutive WRC crown ranking him among the finest rally drivers of all time. Title contender Ott Tanak, sitting second in the race to the top, found a tree in the wrong place and had to retire. That mistake gave Sébastien the numbers, and the 2018 WRC title. And that’s motorsport.
Jari Latvala took the honours in Rally Oz from Kiwi ace Hayden Paddon (who faces an uncertain future next year) as drivers battled throughout the final day around a stormy Coffs Harbour. Citroen’s Mads Ostberg completed the podium. Toyota took the coveted WRC manufacturers’ title for the first time since 1999.
For Sébastien, who finished in fifth, the rally was his last for the M-Sport Ford team before he crosses to Citroen in ’19.
“The season was so intense and actually it (the title) just happened in between two stages. It is a mixed feeling at this moment. I’m proud of what I have achieved and my team – they are the best. It has been an amazing journey together and now I just enjoy the last push in this car. I hope I will not miss it.”
Sébastien Ogier, six-time FIA World Rally Champion.
Note: As a guest of Seb’s Volkswagen Team in 2015, I had the distinct pleasure of being with the affable Frenchman in Coffs Harbour when he won his third FIA World Rally Championship.
Eli Evans and co-driver Ben Searcy won the 2018 Australian Rally Championship crown following an eventful Kennards Hire Rally Australia. It was Eli’s fourth. And Ben’s first!
The pair’s Skoda Fabia R5 copped a broken radiator on the opening day, and a puncture on Day 2, to finish the event in sixth. It was enough to secure the title despite Steve Glenney and Andy Sarandis topping the timesheet by 8 minutes 45.8s from Luke Anear and Jon Mitchell, while Andrew Penny and Rhys Llewellyn completed the podium. Glenney came home ninth on the overall rally rankings to become the top Australian.
Kennards Hire Rally Australia Top 10 Outright Results
1 GLENNEY/SARANDIS Skoda Fabia R5 3:26:53.8
2 ANEAR/MITCHELL Subaru Impreza WRX STI +17:51.4
3 A. PENNY/LLEWELLYN Subaru Impreza WRX STI +26:46.2
4 DUNN/PRIEST Subaru Impreza WRX STI +38:11.9
5 E. EVANS/SEARCY Skoda Fabia R5 +49:48.7
6 COLLITS/DAWSON Holden Commodore +55:34.2
7 L. BATES/McLOUGHLIN Toyota Corolla S2000 +56:03.7
8 RAEDEL/CARR Ford Falcon XR6 +1:17:37.1
9 HATTON/LONG Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +1:40:00.0
10 B. HAYES/C. HAYES Holden SS Commodore +2:44:21.9
EDITED by AC