31 October 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen claims its twelfth WRC title in four years at 2016 Rally Great Britain

2016 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Great Britain: Ogier/Ingrassia

Newly-crowned World Rally Champions* Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia ensured Volkswagen Motorsport claimed its twelfth FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) title in four years, as the pair clinched victory at the 2016 Rally Great Britain. Round 12 of the 13-event 2016 series took place in Wales, the 330.21kms run from 28-30 October. The win in and around the muddy forest tracks means that Volkswagen Motorsport has lifted the Drivers’, Co-drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championship trophies in every year it has taken part in the WRC since 2013.

Fourth consecutive win
The Welsh victory was the fourth consecutive win for Ogier and Ingrassia – and their sixth of the season – and gives Volkswagen an unassailable lead in the 2016 Manufacturers’ Championship, with one round still to play out in Australia next month. The German outfit now joins Citroën as only the second manufacturer to win all three titles four years in a row. Only Peugeot, Citroën and Lancia have more titles to their name, with five, eight and ten wins respectively. Even all-conquering Audi only won two.

Ogier and Ingrassia continued their Rally Great Britain winning streak which they demonstrated in 2013, 2014 and 2015, and came hot on the heels of wins in Germany, Franc and Spain. It also marked the first time the Frenchmen have won the same event four consecutive times. Held two weeks earlier than usual, the typical Rally Great Britain fog, rain and mud appeared to prove little challenge for Ogier and Ingrassia, who slid into the lead from the opening stage.

For once, running first – thanks to drivers’ standings starting positions – on the stages played into the French duo’s favour, but from then on, the pair were embroiled in a close battle with DMACK’s Ott Tänak and Raigo Mōlder, who put up the toughest fight to win the British stages. By the end of the first day, Ogier and Ingrassia had won five of the eight stages and set a lead of 37.3 seconds. By the end of day three, Tänak and Mōlder had narrowed it down to 10.2s.

‘An incredible journey’
Ogier was excited about the British win: ‘This victory is fantastic. I am so delighted that we have wrapped up the manufacturers’ title for our fantastic team. It was hard work hanging onto our lead in the extremely slippery conditions. Ott Tänak put us under a lot of pressure, so Julien and I had to push ourselves to the limit all weekend. But we did it.

‘Looking back, we have all been on an incredible journey over the past four years. To have such a run of success is definitely something very special – particularly in motorsport, where so many different factors come into play. I am very happy that I opted for Volkswagen before anyone knew where this WRC adventure would take us,’ the champion-elect* enthused.

Damaged driveshafts
As is so often the case, it was a different story for the Frenchman’s Polo R WRC team-mates. Both Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jæger, and Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikka Anttila’s cars suffered damaged driveshafts, with the Norwegian and Finnish crews losing significant amounts of time. A solution was found at the end of day one – the cause was a new seal, which although worked in other events, wasn’t up to the British rally’s unique conditions.

Once fixed, both the #2 and #9 Polo R WRCs were predictably reliable over the remaining 16 special stages. Both crews were on top form, too, Latvala and Anttila making up a minute over their nearest rivals to finish the event in sixth place. Mikkelsen and Jæger completed the Welsh event in 12th position, and took second place on the Polo R WRC’s 50th Power Stage to claim an extra two points, the 91st time a Volkswagen Motorsport driver had won the final stage bonus.

‘A fantastic success’
Latvala was despondent but pleased he had played a part in securing his team’s 2016 championship: ‘Looking at today on its own, we did our job: we overtook Østberg and ended the rally in seventh place. On the whole, we were obviously hoping for a lot more from the weekend and are not very happy with this result. On the other hand, Volkswagen claimed its fourth manufacturers’ title in a row thanks to Sébastien Ogier’s win. That is obviously a fantastic success for the entire team here and at the headquarters in Hannover.’

‘No less than we deserve’
Mikkelsen meanwhile was a more upbeat: ‘I am very pleased for our Volkswagen team that we have once again been crowned world rally champions in the Manufacturers’ Championship. That is no less than we deserve, and I am pleased to have contributed a little here and there. From a personal point of view, I am obviously disappointed with the outcome of the Rally Great Britain in general.

‘We wanted to battle with Thierry Neuville for second place in the championship here, but unfortunately that was not to be. A driveshaft was damaged on Friday and we consequently lost many minutes. That is a real shame, but that is motorsport. These things can happen. We will now have to do our very best in Australia to finish second in the world championship. That is exactly what we plan to do.’

‘Team spirit cannot be beaten’
Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets was in celebratory mood: ‘A performance worthy of world champions from Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, and a fantastic day for Volkswagen. To win all three titles in the World Rally Championship for the fourth time in a row is anything but a matter of course.

‘It takes a lot of work from the entire team to be so successful. I am extremely proud of the whole team. Drivers, co-drivers, engineers, mechanics, logisticians, the medical department and catering team, weather crew, and team management – everyone has played an important role. The dedication they show Volkswagen, and their team spirit, cannot be beaten.’

The 318bhp all-wheel drive Polo R WRC has won 42 out of the 51 rallies it has participated in (along with 85 podium finishes), which makes it the most successful car in WRC history. The final round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship is the 2016 Rally Australia, which takes place on 18-20 November, around the Coffs Harbour area of New South Wales.

*Subject to confirmation from the FIA.

2016 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

RALLY GREAT BRITAIN FINAL RESULTS

1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen: 3h 14m 30.2s
2 Ott Tänak/Raigo Mōlder (EST/EST), Ford: + 10.2s
3 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai: + 1m 35.4s
4 Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai: + 1m 54.9s
5 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL), Citroën: + 2m 35.2s

2016 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS

1 Sébastien Ogier, 247
2 Thierry Neuville, 143
3 Andreas Mikkelsen, 129
4 Hayden Paddon, 126
5 Dani Sordo, 119

2016 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

MANUFACTURERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS

1 Volkswagen Motorsport, 355
2 Hyundai Motorsport, 285
3 4 M-Sport, 154
4 Volkswagen Motorsport II, 138
5 Hyundai Motorsport N, 136

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