Sebastien Ogier crowned World Rally Championship winner in France
Last Updated: 04/10/13 5:12pm
Sebastien Ogier: Succeeds Sebastien Loen as WRC champion
Sebastien Ogier has clinched his first World Rally Championship title after the first day of his home Rally of France.
The Volkswagon driver started the event with an 83 point lead over Thierry Neuville, who needed to win Special Stage One to keep the title race alive.
But Daniel Sordo took victory ahead of Neuville in the opening stage, confirming Ogier as world champion with two rallies still remaining in the season.
Citroen's Sordo finished Thursday's power stage 0.7 seconds ahead of Neuville, who pipped Ogier to third by just 0.1 seconds.
"It has been an ideal season for all this team. Last year, we started from scratch and now, for our first season, we're world champion."
Nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, who is competing in only his fourth rally in his retirement season, was well off the pace in seventh.
Ogier, 29, and co-driver Julien Ingrassia now lead the standings by 82 points with only a possible 81 remaining, capping a successful first season with Volkswagon.
Ogier now plans to celebrate his first world title with victory in front of his home fans.
"I'm so happy. Before the stage I was a bit confused about whether it would happen, but we're here and we managed to do it," he said. "Now, I will be able to be aggressive all the weekend because our goal has been reached.
"It has been an ideal season for all this team. Last year, we started from scratch and now, for our first season, we're world champion.
"We now will focus on the rest of the weekend. What's important for (the team) is the team title. I will do everything I can to get them points."
Ford's Neuville admitted afterwards he had already conceded defeat in the title race, and that he was focused on finishing the season in second place.
"We knew already that we couldn't really win, so it doesn't change anything," said the Belgian."What's important is that we were quicker here than Jari-Matti Latvala and I hope to get one or two more points this weekend.
"Can I win? I don't know, we will try, but we want second in the championship more, so points are the priority."