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Neuville wins Rally Australia, secures world championship second

© AFP | Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville of Belgium leaps over a jump on the final day of the World Rally Championship (WRC) event Rally Australia near Coffs Harbour on November 19, 2017.

COFFS HARBOUR (AUSTRALIA) (AFP) - 

Belgium's Thierry Neuville won the season-ending Rally Australia in Coffs Harbour on Sunday to clinch second place in the World Rally Championship.

Neuville mastered the slippery final stages following morning rain to hold on to his overnight lead in his Hyundai and claim the season's final event.

Frenchman Sebastien Ogier had already won the 2017 World Rally Championship heading into the Australian leg but Neuville's victory ensured he finished as runner-up.

"Victory in Rally Australia. We also finish 2nd in the #WRC Drivers' standings 2017. So happy to end the season like that!" Neuville tweeted after his victory.

In a late twist, second-placed Jari-Matti Latvala struck trouble and went into the trees on the final stage in his Toyota.

The Finn's misfortune promoted M-Sport's Toyota-bound Ott Tanak to second, 22.5 seconds adrift while Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) claimed an unlikely third just under a minute back.

Five-times WRC champion Ogier (M-Sport) finished fourth after topping the Power Stage run in fine conditions.

"I can only tell you it was my last stage for 2017, that's for sure," Ogier tweeted.

"It was a tough weekend, we had quite some issues and we struggled a bit with our start position sometimes. Still it was a fantastic season for us."

© 2017 AFP