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Volkswagen’s Sebastien Ogier has won Rally Sweden after coming out tops in a three-way battle that is said to be one of the closest ever in the World Rally Championship.

The last gasp win was only achieved after the championship leader’s VW teammate Andreas Mikkelsen made a mistake with a maiden WRC victory in sight. Ogier held off Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville to take the win, while Mikkelsen recovered to finish on the podium.

Ogier kept his cool to overturn a 3.0 sec deficit in the final 15.87 km special stage, while holding off Neuville’s i20 WRC in a three-car tussle through the snowy forests of central Sweden. Just 4.6 seconds – the equivalent of just 162.84 metres – covered the trio heading to the final live TV Power Stage, with interim times showing Mikkelsen on target to win as he entered the final section of the stage, but his Polo R WRC touched a bank and was dragged into deep snow.

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The heir to Loeb’s rally throne was already at the finish line and punched the air as news of Mikkelsen’s mistake was relayed to him, the Frenchman beating Neuville by 6.4 sec. Neuville led going into the final day but a faulty intercom and a brush with a snow bank earlier this morning allowed Ogier through.

“This was one of the most exciting WRC events. It’s a crazy win because I had to push flat out from the beginning of the rally to the end. My first win here two years ago was a hard fight, but I had to play everything here in the final stage and it was a fantastic end. Andreas did a great job and he’s very young so we’ll have many more future battles,” Ogier said.

An emotional Mikkelsen said: “We gave it all in the last stage, but there was a bank full of snow and we were stuck. We tried and hopefully we’ll get more luck next time.”

Ott Tänak finished fourth in a Ford Fiesta RS after Citroen’s Mads Østberg lost more than five minutes buried in a snow bank. Hayden Paddon, replacing the injured Dani Sordo, scored a career-best fifth in another Hyundai. Round three of the WRC takes competitors to a very different scene and climate – Rally Guanajuato Mexico, the season’s opening gravel round, will happen from March 5-8.