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Sunday September 15, 2013 MYT 2:12:02 PM
Sunday September 15, 2013 MYT 2:12:43 PM
France's driver Sebastien Ogier looks on from inside his car before the qualifying session of the Porsche Supercup in Monaco, May 24, 2013. REUTERS/Robert Pratta
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Sebastien Ogier's wait to replace former team mate Sebastien Loeb as world rally champion will go on for another three weeks despite his victory at the Rally of Australia on Sunday.
The 29-year-old Frenchman's sixth victory of the season for Volkswagen left him just one point shy of an unassailable lead over Ford's Thierry Neuville in the drivers' standings with three rounds of the championship remaining.
Belgian Neuville dramatically snatched second place overall from Citroen driver Mikko Hirvonen when the Finn suffered a puncture on Sunday's final stage.
That was just enough to deprive Ogier of the chance to celebrate his first world title at the seaside resort of Coffs Harbour.
Ogier, who had an outside chance of clinching the title at last month's German round only to come off the track and suffer a suspension problem, will now expect to be crowned world champion on home soil at next month's Rally of France.
"We did the job and thought it was okay," Ogier, who won 18 of the rally's 22 stages, said. "Immediately I thought I would miss one point because Mikko had a problem.
"When you do a perfect job like that you expect to make it. I just did my best. We mathematically miss one point, but it's gonna happen soon.
"Still another perfect rally and it's really good for the team because we score a lot of points for the manufacturers championship as well."
Loeb decided to contest only four rounds this season after securing his ninth successive title for Citroen in 2012, leaving the way clear for a different champion for the first time since Norway's Petter Solberg in 2003.
Ogier has grasped the opportunity with both hands in the pacy Volkswagen Polo and, with co-driver Julien Ingrassia, was again dominant on the dusty gravel tracks around the north central coast of New South Wales.
He finished one minute, 32.1 seconds clear of Neuville to win his 13th career rally. Hirvonen finished third ahead of Ogier's Volkswagen team mate Jari-Matti Latvala.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)
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