STRASBOURG, France (AP) — Sebastien Ogier celebrated his world title by winning the Rally France on Sunday, while nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb's last race ended in a crash.
Ogier took the overall lead by winning the three morning stages before containing his rivals in the three afternoon stages. The Frenchman clinched the world title on Thursday when Neuville failed to win the power stage.
"There has been so much emotion this weekend," Ogier said. "After the excitement of winning the title on Thursday, it was difficult to get back into the race. But we couldn't stay like that all weekend and decided to react yesterday."
It was Ogier's seventh victory this season. Ogier finished the race 12.2 seconds ahead of Dani Sordo of Spain. Jari-Matti Latvala of Finland took third place, 19.5 seconds off the pace. Thierry Neuville of Belgium placed fourth, more than a minute behind Ogier.
"There's always disappointment when you finish second but it's another podium in a rally in which we were fighting all the time for first," Sordo said. "When you're in the car and see how difficult it is to take just one second back, and Ogier is 15 seconds ahead, you have to be realistic. We pushed, but Ogier is champion for a reason."
In the rain-soaked stage 15, Loeb's Citroen DS3 slid wide on a corner and rolled before landing on its roof. The French driver was not injured in the crash. "I lost the rear in a fast right corner, and then we had a spin and I finished in the ditch," said Loeb, who is retiring and only competed in a few races this year. "And the race was over. I would have preferred to have finished my last rally here, but it didn't go according to plan."
Before Sunday's stages, Latvala led Sordo by 0.4 second, Ogier by 1.5 seconds, and Loeb by 5.0 seconds. But the Finn lost the overall lead on stage 15. With a cushion of 13.7 seconds after stage 17, Ogier could afford to drive less aggressively in the afternoon. Sordo, Latvala and Neuville each won one of the last three stages.
The next rally is in Spain from Oct. 24-27.