Andreas Mikkelsen claimed his first FIA World Rally Championship victory last Sunday in Spain after Sebastien Ogier threw away a comfortable lead by crashing on the very final stage of the weekend.
Ogier controlled proceedings throughout Rally Catalunya, entering the final of 23 stages with a 50 second lead over Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikkelsen, who were poised to duke it out for P2.
However, when Ogier made a mistake on a tight uphill section and took the front-right corner off his car after slamming into the armco barrier, the three-time world champion’s fate was sealed.
This left a surprised Mikkelsen – who had edged out Latvala on the final stage to lead the Finn home by 3.1 seconds – to claim his first ever WRC win, only learning of Ogier’s demise after finishing the rally.
“It was absurd because Ogier never makes mistakes so when they told me I didn’t believe it,” Mikkelsen admitted.
“It was a big surprise, and although it’s not the way I want to win a rally, we’ve been so close so many times that I feel I really deserve this one.”
Ogier was airlifted to hospital due to the severity of his crash, but was released later on Sunday unharmed. The Frenchman admitted that he had been pushing hard on the final stage in spite of his comfortable lead.
“I had nothing to prove, there is no need for that any more, but for sure I’m a competitor and I always want to give my best,” Ogier said.
“Somehow it wasn’t the most exciting rally, and since Saturday midday when I had a good lead I’d backed off a bit and just controlled the event. In this moment I wanted to have fun and give a push to finish the race.”
Ogier’s crash allowed Dani Sordo to rise to third and claim his first podium finish of the year, while Mads Ostberg and Kris Meeke rounded out the top five.
The 2015 WRC season comes to a close with Rally GB in Wales on November 13-15.