Archive | 2013 FIA World Rally Championship

09 March 2013 ~ 3 Comments

Ogier delivers outstanding drive to lead Rally Mexico after day two

2013 Rally Mexico: Sébastien Ogier

It’s getting to be a regular occurrence – Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia lead the Rally Mexico after the first full day’s competition. Ogier claimed seven special stage wins and collected nine of a possible 11 top three results on a day which saw the WRC teams drive a total of 160km against the stopwatch. In what also seems to be a familiar story Finns Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila were hit by misfortune, or rather a large rock 300m into the start of day two, breaking one of their Polo R WRC’s wishbones and forcing them out of the day’s action. The pair will rejoin the event under Rally 2 regulations, but they will be awarded a 50-minute time penalty for the stages which they did not complete.

‘That was the shortest stage I have ever driven. The dust from the previous car was still in the air, so vision was not great. 300 metres after the start we were rounding a right-hander when we came across a stone the size of a melon right on the racing line. As it was not possible to avoid the stone at the speed we were travelling, I tried to position it centrally between the two front wheels and line it up as well as possible with the underside protection. The impact was not particularly strong, but the stone damaged the right wishbone. It was just unlucky. The rock had probably been pulled out onto the road by one of the cars in front of us. We will start again tomorrow and will view the rally as a test and an opportunity to gain more experience in the Polo R WRC,’ said a disappointed Latvala.

Ogier was understandably more upbeat: ‘I am obviously very happy with today’s result. The special stages were not easy, with a lot of stones, loose gravel and little grip. The 30km on ‘El Chocolate’, in particular, were extremely demanding. That made it all the more pleasing that we had built up a small cushion by then. Everyone in the team is delighted that the Polo R WRC appears also to be quick on gravel. However, we have to bear in mind that there is still a long way to go at this rally, and the toughest stages are still ahead.’

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08 March 2013 ~ 2 Comments

Ogier leads Rally Mexico after first spectator stages in Guanajuato

Volkswagen Polo R WRC: 2013 Rally Mexico

The Rally Mexico got off to a rapturous start last night in Guanajuato, with two short spectator stages. The Volkswagen Motorsport rally team were given an enthusiastic welcome at the 1km-long ‘Guanajuato Street Stage’ and the cobblestone-lined ‘Parque Bicentenario’ special stage. Maybe not surprisingly, Ogier posted the fastest time to move into the lead as the Mexican carnival gets ready for the start of day two. Jari-Matti Latvala finished further down the field, but only 6.4 seconds behind his French team-mate.

Both Polo R WRCs qualified well on their first competitive outing on gravel – Ogier came in fifth on the 6.2km stage near León, while Latvala followed two places behind. Post-qualifying, Ogier selected a ninth-place start position for the first 13 special stages of the event, while Latvala chose seventh. Volkswagen Motorsport will run hard compound tyres on the Rally Mexico for the duration of the event, even though the softer variant promises faster qualifying times.

Ogier was far from thrilled with his qualifying session: ‘I am not happy with qualifying. We had the disadvantage of having to open the stage. We took the safe choice with the hard tyre compound. What we didn’t expect was that there would be quite such a big difference between the hard and the soft. Qualifying is very important here at the Rally Mexico, to give yourself a good starting position. We still have that. Our goal is to finish the rally and get a good result. Compared to our rivals, we have an extra set of fresh tyres to use on the special stages.’

Latvala was equally wary of the non-obvious tyre choice: ‘Obviously the soft tyres have produced the better times in qualifying, while we opted for the harder compound. At first glance, starting from seventh does not look ideal. However, we will have to wait and see how the rally pans out – it could ultimately be an advantage to have more hard tyres left. Our priority remains to use our first gravel rally to close the gap on our rivals in terms of experience with the Polo. We can only do that if we complete the full distance.’

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03 March 2013 ~ 1 Comment

Altitude, gravel and heat – the Polo R WRC makes its debut in Mexico

2013 Volkswagen Polo R WRC

Fresh from its victory at the Rally Sweden last month, the Polo R WRC makes its Mexican debut this week at Rally Mexico, which runs from 7-10 March. The third round of the World Rally Championship (WRC), the 315bhp four-wheel drive rally Polo will face altitudes of up to 2700m above sea level, and a loose gravel surface, neither of which it has faced before. The 395km of 23 special stages begin on Thursday with the Guanajuato Street Stage, at the site of former silver mine – now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With shafts converted into roads, over 80,000 rally fans are expected to make the pilgrimage to see their WRC heroes.

With the altitudes come potential problems. As the air thins out the higher the cars climb, the 1.6-litre turbocharged engines lose between 28 and 30 per cent of their performance. The Volkswagen Motorsport engineers have prepared as well as possible for the demands of the high plains in the Sierra de Lobos, technologically helping the turbocharger from overheating –the key is to limit loss of performance without endangering the turbocharger’s stability.

2013 Volkswagen Polo R WRC

Rally Sweden winner Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #8), is looking forward to the event: ‘I was delighted with the win in Sweden. The way we presented ourselves as a team over the entire weekend was very impressive. However, that is yesterday’s news. For me personally, it is always very special to line up in Mexico. It was there that I drove my very first rally in the World Championship back in 2008 – and I promptly won my first race in the Junior WRC class. And, just like back then, we are now starting out on a new venture there with the Polo R WRC. Rally Mexico will give us our first true indication of how good the car is on a gravel surface.’

Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #7), said: ‘One of the most important aspects of preparing for Mexico is how well you can cope with the time difference. If you have adapted to local time well, then your senses are sharper during the Recce. For this reason, I travel to California two weeks prior to the start, in order to acclimatise. We have to adapt in a lot of ways: unlike in Sweden, the grip level does not change as often on gravel. Despite all this, your concentration is really put to the test in Mexico.’

Meanwhile, Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito is excited about how the Polo R WRC will fare in the unknown conditions: ‘The thin air and temperatures of above 30 degrees have a real impact – on both driver and co-driver, as well as the technology. The Rally Mexico is also the first round of the season on gravel, and we are obviously very excited to see how competitive the Polo is in Mexico.’

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10 February 2013 ~ 2 Comments

Victory! Sébastien Ogier scores maiden Polo R WRC win at Rally Sweden

Volkswagen Polo R WRC: 2013 Rally Sweden

Volkswagen Motorsport has done today what we thought it may eventually do (just not quite so soon), and taken victory at a round of the World Rally Championship (WRC). In the remarkable hands Sébastien Ogier and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia, the Polo R WRC crossed the finish line at the Rally Sweden in first place, beating Ogier’s one-time team-mate Sébastien Loeb by a massive 41.8-second margin. Ogier set the pace from the word go, posting the fastest times in qualifying, and remained uncatchable over the three-day event.

Overall, Ogier and Ingrassia set 11 best times from a total of 22 special stages, scoring a place in the history books in the process – Ogier’s eighth win is only the second by a central European at the Rally Sweden since 1950, with previous winners in-between being exclusively Nordic. The other non-Nordic winner? Loeb, of course, in 2004. Finn Volkswagen Motorsport pairing Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila finish 1m 30.6s behind Ogier and Ingrassia, snatching a fourth place for the second Polo R WRC. The car collected 28 top 3 results in total over the 22 stages, and the Volkswagen Motorsport team is understandably delighted with the result, which far exceeds its expectations.

Ogier and Ingrassia also won the so-called ‘Power Stage’, which makes its first appearance in 2013, and Ogier now moves ahead in the overall WRC Drivers’ Championship standings, three points ahead of Citroën driver Loeb who is not contesting a whole season. Extra World Championship points are also up for grabs for the drivers finishing first, second and third. Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director said: ‘This is a big day for Volkswagen in motorsport. To win the second round of the World Championship under our own steam is a real milestone. The Rally Sweden is one of a kind. The Polo R WRC worked perfectly in these conditions, and Sébastien Ogier took full advantage. He was in a class of his own, and Jari-Matti Latvala also performed well. Today I am very proud.’

An overjoyed Sébastien Ogier described how he felt: ‘The win is an indescribable feeling! We were screaming with joy in the car. It is simply incredible to claim the first victory for Volkswagen and the team at our second rally. This is probably the greatest moment of my career. The Polo R WRC was perfect. The guys did a fantastic job of preparing the car. So much can happen in Sweden. The conditions in the snow are so difficult – winning here, as only the second central European and ahead of the best rally driver of all time, makes me enormously proud. We had to give 100 per cent, right down to the final day, because Sébastien Loeb was going for it through to the finish. I am overjoyed.’

‘I am delighted for the entire Volkswagen team. To win a race so early in a debut season is something very special. I would have liked to finish on the podium myself. That was certainly possible here at the Rally Sweden with the Polo R WRC. However, I must still adapt my driving style a little. Huge compliments go to my team-mate Sébastien Ogier, who showed just what was possible. He was really impressive all weekend. I will do everything in my power to get on a par with him at the forthcoming rallies,’ said a still-pleased Latvala.

Our warmest congratulations go to all at Volkswagen Motorsport for its maiden Polo R WRC victory, in what was an incredibly and genuinely exciting Rally Sweden. The World Rally Championship now moves from the ice and snow of Sweden to the heat and dust of Mexico, with the Rally Mexico running from 7-10 March, centred around León.

1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen: 3h 11m 41.9s
2 Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (F/MC), Citroën: + 41.8s
3 Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S), Ford: + 1m 24.5s
4 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen: + 1m 30.6s
5 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Ford: + 5m 06.4s

1 Sébastien Ogier: 46

2 Sébastien Loeb: 43
3 Mads Østberg: 24
4 Dani Sordo: 15
5 Jari-Matti Latvala: 14

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07 February 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Polos are go! Volkswagen Motorsport tops qualifying at Rally Sweden

2013 Rally Sweden: Volkswagen Polo R WRC

Volkswagen Motorsport has got off to a fantastic start at Rally Sweden. In a pretty much perfect beginning to the ice and snow event, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have posted the fastest time in qualifying (1:51.30 minutes). Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila followed 2.7 seconds behind in sixth place on the four-kilometre, snow-covered stage. The impressive result gives both crews a good choice of starting position for the Friday stages of Rally Sweden – the best drivers in qualifying get to choose their start position first.

The Rally Sweden gets underway with a spectator stage in Karlstad on Thursday evening, in which pairs of World Rally Cars go head to head in direct duels. 

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director said: ‘The drivers are very happy with the Polo R WRC today after free practice and qualifying, and go into the next few days full of motivation. The result of the short qualifying stage is good, and we have a good choice of starting position for both cars for the first ‘real’ day of rallying tomorrow. We could hardly have got off to a better start in Sweden.’ We’ll keep you up to date with events at Rally Sweden as they unfold.

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