McLaren set to celebrate 500 races with TAG Heuer this weekend

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The mid-1980s featured the then-championship winning McLaren TAG-Porsches, which kicked off a nearly 30-year partnership between the team and watch partner TAG Heuer.

The Swiss brand has been with McLaren ever since, and this weekend in the Canadian Grand Prix, the pair celebrate 500 Grands Prix together.

This isn’t the first major McLaren team-and-partner celebration this year; the 20-year anniversary with Mobil 1 began starting with the opening round of the season, the 2014 Australian Grand Prix.

Meanwhile the McLaren/TAG relationship began with victory in the 1985 Brazilian Grand Prix, a race taken by eventual World Champion Alain Prost.

McLaren posted an image of that first win on its Twitter page today.

In the time together, McLaren has captured 140 victories, 134 pole positions and nine World Championships.

McLaren’s 2014 hasn’t gone that well since its double podium in Melbourne to open the season, but drivers Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen press on as they are still ranked eighth and ninth in the Driver’s Championship.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”