Andreas Mikkelsen rates his win at Kennards Hire Rally Australia last weekend as his best to date but admitted it had stirred up a range of emotions.
The Norwegian and his co-driver Anders Jaeger secured a landmark victory in Australia as Volkswagen bowed out of the WRC after four dominant seasons with a 1-2 finish.
Mikkelsen repelled a sustained attack from teammate and four-time champion Sébastien Ogier, who blew his victory chances with a spin on the final day.
Victory in the season-ending event was Mikkelsen’s third at WRC level. And as he seeks a drive in next year's championship following VW's shock exit, the timing couldn't have been better.
"This is a perfect end to the season, but there are some really mixed emotions,” Mikkelsen said of his win.
"I have probably done my best ever rally and to finish my career with Volkswagen with a win is an amazing feeling. We challenged the world champion and beat him fair and square on the same road conditions. It’s my best victory. And to be able to give this to the team, I can’t be more proud.
"But I’m also sad to see it all disappear - sad to see this team and the car come to an end. In the last stage I was telling Anders – in the last one kilometre of the Power Stage: “Wow, I am going to miss this car and this team!” For sure, it will be strange not to tackle any more WRC rallies with this amazing crew."
Mikkelsen said the victory - the team’s 43rd win from 52 rallies - was a fitting finale to his time with the German manufacturer and its Polo R.
"Volkswagen is the team that gave me the opportunity to step up into the top class of the WRC," Mikkelsen said.
"They put a lot of faith in me and made so much possible for me. They will always have a special place in my heart. Everything came together at the final rally. Everything, absolutely everything, worked perfectly – it was simply the optimum of what we have achieved together in four years in the World Rally Championship."