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World Rally champion Ogier celebrates victory in opening round of 2018 series

The M-Sport Ford driver, winner of the last five world titles, started the fourth and final leg with a 33.5-second lead over Toyota’s Ott Tanak and it proved a comfortable enough cushion.

He extended his lead over the Estonian up to almost a minute ahead of the final stage with Tanak ending up second, 58.3 seconds behind at the end of the four days.

Finn Jari-Matti Latvala took third place, one minute, 52 seconds off the pace.

Ogier joined M-Sport last season after Volkswagen, with whom he won his first four titles, pulled out as part of a strategic shift to help the German carmaker overcome a costly emissions scandal.

The Frenchman won only four of the 17 stages, including three of the first four, but always had his rivals in check in sometimes muddy conditions.

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