x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Ogier captures first career title at home rally

French driver Sebastien Ogier secured his first world title on the opening day of the Rally of France on Thursday when his only rival – Belgian Thierry Neuville – failed to snatch the stage win he needed in Alsace.

France's driver Sebastien Ogier, right, and his French co-driver, Julien Ingrassia, celebrate after winning their world champion title, shaking hands across the roof of their Volkswagen Polo R WRC at the Rally of France. Ogier, who clinched his first world rally title, succeeds compatriot Sebastien Loeb, who won the past nine WRC series titles.  Patrick Hertzog / AFP
France's driver Sebastien Ogier, right, and his French co-driver, Julien Ingrassia, celebrate after winning their world champion title, shaking hands across the roof of their Volkswagen Polo R WRC at the Rally of France. Ogier, who clinched his first world rally title, succeeds compatriot Sebastien Loeb, who won the past nine WRC series titles. Patrick Hertzog / AFP

French driver Sebastien Ogier secured his first world title on the opening day of the Rally of France on Thursday when his only rival – Thierry Neuville – failed to snatch the stage win he needed in Alsace.

Ogier, 29, and co-driver Julien Ingrassia started the race with an 83-point championship lead over second-place Neuville and can no longer be caught by the Belgian.

The Volkswagen driver takes over the world crown from fellow Frenchman and record nine-time champion Sebastien Loeb.

The Rally of France is the third-to-last race of the season, with only the events in Spain and Britain remaining.