World rally champion Sebastian Ogier led from start to finish to win the season-ending Wales Rally GB for Volkswagen today.

The Frenchman finished the rally, over gravel forest roads, 37.6 seconds ahead of the Ford Fiesta driven by Finland's Mikko Hirvonen.

It was Ogier's eighth win in 13 races this year and his task was made easier after both his Volkswagen team mates Andreas Mikkelsen and Jari-Matti Latvala crashed out.

Hirvonen, who was competing in his last rally before retirement, was 26 seconds clear of third-placed Norwegian Mads Ostberg in a Citroen after Irish and British hopes of seeing Co Tyrone man Kris Meeke on the podium faded due to tyre problems.

Ogier and Volkswagen have already won both the drivers' and manufacturers' titles.   

Ogier said on www.wrc.com: "It is the best way to finish the season and it was my target.

"We started flat-out on Friday and made an incredible day - there was a big difference to everyone else."

An error from Jari-Matti Latvala during tough conditions on Friday's opening leg had put him into a ditch and lost three minutes as a result to push Ogier back in overall command of the rally.

"My rally changed when Jari-Matti made a mistake and I had control and could ease my pace," added Ogier.

"It wasn't the most fun way to drive, but in the slippery conditions I had to do it. It was the best way to get the win."

Hirvonen admitted it was an emotional finale. He said: "I couldn't have planned a better way to end my career. It was a fantastic fight all weekend, one of the most enjoyable from the last 13 years."