Barcelona, Spain - Andreas Mikkelsen secured a maiden World Rally Championship win after champion Sebastien Ogier crashed in spectacular style on the final stage of the penultimate rally of the season in Spain on Sunday.
Ogier, who clinched his third consecutive title for Volkswagen in Australia in September, careered into a roadside barrier less than four kilometres from the finish, losing his rear right wheel in the process.
Airlifted to hospital for checks and later passed fit, Ogier had led overnight and was closing on an eighth victory of the season in the rally south of Barcelona.
Mikkelsen, also in a Volkswagen, edged another team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala of Finland, into second, claiming a first win in 64 rallies that kept alive his hopes of beating Latvala for second in the overall standings.
"It was absurd because Ogier never makes mistakes so when they told me I didn't believe it," Mikkelsen said.
"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," added the 26-year-old.
Mikkelsen finished 3.1 seconds ahead of Latvala, with Spaniard Dani Sordo of Hyundai a further 18.1 seconds behind in third.
The final round of the season will be the Wales Rally GB from 12-15 November. - Reuters
Results from the Rally of Spain
1 Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) Volkswagen - 3hr21m04.8s
2 Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) Volkswagen +3.1s
3. Daniel Sordo (Spain) Hyundai +21.2
4 Mads Ostberg (Norway) Citroen +1:06.3
5 Kris Meeke (Britain) Citroen +1:08.2
6 Hayden Paddon (New Zealand) Hyundai +1:23.3
7 Martin Prokop (Czech Republic) Ford +4:14.2
8 Thierry Neuville (Belgium) Hyundai +8:01.9
9 Pontus Tidemand (Sweden) Skoda +8:56.8
10 Jan Kopecky (Czech Republic) Skoda +9:07.5
Standings after the Rally of Spain - Drivers
1 Sebastien Ogier (France) Volkswagen Motorsport - 238
2 Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) Volkswagen Motorsport - 180
3 Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) Volkswagen Motorsport II - 154
4 Mads Ostberg (Norway) Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team - 110
5 Kris Meeke (Britain) Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team - 94
6 Thierry Neuville (Belgium) Hyundai Shell World Rally Team - 90
7 Elfyn Evans (Britain) M-Sport World Rally Team - 81
8 Daniel Sordo (Spain) Hyundai Shell World Rally Team - 77
9 Hayden Paddon (New Zealand) Hyundai Motorsport N - 74
1 Volkswagen Motorsport - 387
2 Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team - 206
3 Hyundai Shell World Rally Team - 202
4 M-Sport World Rally Team - 173
5 Volkswagen Motorsport - 116
6 Hyundai Motorsport N - 67
7 Jipocar Czech National Team - 51
8 FWRT - 9