Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia celebrate their sixth World Rally Title. Photo: Getty Images

Sebastien Ogier wins sixth straight World Rally Championship

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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia — Sebastien Ogier won his sixth straight World Rally Championship after a final day of racing at Rally Australia ended the hopes of his only two challengers for the season title.

The Frenchman started a wet Sunday needing to hold his spot ahead of Thierry Neuville, while overnight rally leader Ott Tanak also remained with a chance of moving ahead of Ogier.

Instead it was that pair which failed to finish, with Neuville clipping a tree with three stages remaining and Tanak running off the road on the second-last stage.

Neither was able to recover, with the dual retirements assuring Ogier another title regardless of how he fares on the season’s final stage.

The 34-year-old Ogier sealed the title in fashion, though, blitzing the seven-kilometer Wedding Bells final stage to claim his only forest stage victory of the rally and five bonus points.

Toyota’s Jari-Matti Latvala claimed Rally Australia honors, beating New Zealand’s Hyundai driver Hayden Paddon by 32.5 seconds and securing his team their first manufacturers’ title since 1999. Ogier was fifth.

Three points behind Ogier ahead of Rally Australia, Neuville’s crash and blown tire on Friday cost him 40 seconds and proved to be the decisive margin before his retirement on Sunday.

Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia will join Citroen next year after two successful seasons with Ford and four with Volkswagen.

“The season was so intense and it just happened in between stages,” Ogier said. “I’m so proud of what we achieved, so proud of my team, you are the best. I enjoyed my last push in this car; I hope I will not miss it.”

Ogier finished the season with 219 points, with Neuville on 201 and Tanak 181.

The 24-stage Rally Australia over mostly forestry roads in northern New South Wales state covered 319 kilometers (197 miles).

F1 races in Austin, Mexico City hitting financial rough patches

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AUSTIN, Texas — Two of Formula One’s three races in North America are facing financial issues that are raising concern about their future.

Organizers of the U.S. Grand Prix won’t get at least $20 million from the state of Texas for the 2018 race after missing a paperwork deadline set by state law. And new questions lurk about the future of the Mexican Grand Prix after the country’s new president suggested the government may not spend on the race like it has the last four years.

Both races have been popular with drivers and fans, and have enjoyed key dates on the F1 calendar. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton clinched season championships in Texas in 2015 and in Mexico City in 2017 and 2018.

Officials in Formula One and at the Circuit of the Americas, host of the U.S. Grand Prix, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.