Frenchman Sebastien Ogier has claimed a third consecutive World Rally Championship title by winning Rally Australia for a third straight year.
It was 31-year-old Ogier’s seventh win of the season from 10 events and he claimed the 2015 world crown with three rounds still remaining.
Ogier won the 17-stage Rally Australia by 12.3 seconds from his Volkswagen teammate Jari-Matti Latvala of Finland on Sunday, with Northern Ireland’s Kris Meeke (Citroen) third, a further 20.3s behind.
He became just the fourth driver to win the world title three times, behind nine-times winner, countryman and former Citroen teammate Sebastien Loeb and Finns Juha Kankkunen and Tommi Makinen, who both won four.
His 31st career victory was another flawless performance for a driver who has dominated since Volkswagen joined the WRC in 2013.
Latvala led Rally Australia after the first day but Ogier pegged him back and was 0.3 seconds ahead after day two and won all four stages on the closing day.
“So far it’s an amazing season. It’s the best I’ve ever done,” said Ogier.
“This rally win is very significant. It was the most difficult rally to open the roads on.
“On paper it was impossible to win but I was determined. It’s the perfect way to secure the title.”
Ogier’s third victory Down Under also ensured world championship hat-tricks for his co-driver Julien Ingrassia and manufacturer Volkswagen.
He now has 235 series points and leads from Latvala 134 and Andreas Mikkelsen of Norway 111.
Latvala conceded Ogier was the deserving world champion.
“Maybe on Friday and Saturday morning I was missing a little spark to fight for the victory. It wasn’t enough,” Latvala said.
“Seb has done an amazing job. He has been better than me.”