Archive | 2013 FIA World Rally Championship

05 February 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Polar pressure – Volkswagen looks forward to icy Rally Sweden challenge

2013 Volkswagen Polo R WRC

This week sees the Polo R WRC in action once more, as the Volkswagen Motorsport team head to Sweden for the 2013 Rally Sweden – the 60th running of the event from 7-10 February. Following the second place finish for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia at Rallye Monte Carlo in January, Finns Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila will be hoping for event completion this time around, after crashing out on the last day in the snowy mountains of France. The only event this year to be held completely on ice and snow, the 315bhp Polo R WRCs will face gruelling and difficult conditions around Karlstad and Hagfors. The event also crosses the border into Norway for a short time.

In a contrast to Monaco, only winter studded Michelin tyres are available to drivers and crews this time around, making driver bravery the only differentiating factor. Over 338km await the Volkswagen Motorsport team, and with temperatures set to plummet to -10 degrees celsius, the service parks will be a hive of activity – to keep warm if nothing else! Rally Sweden is unique in its two spectator stages – ‘Färjestadstravet’ will be run twice – and starts in Karlstad on Thursday, before moving to the Hagfors region on Friday and Saturday. Sunday sees the teams end the event back in Karlstad. The Rally Sweden route takes the competitors through forests and past frozen lakes at very high speeds.

‘After a good start to the season, the entire team now heads to the next challenge, the Rally Sweden, fully motivated and full of confidence. However, everyone in the team is well aware that the good result achieved in Monte Carlo is not yet a true indication of where we lie compared to the opposition,’ said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. ‘The Rally Sweden is totally unique. The speed on the ice and snow is very high. This is only possible with extreme studded tyres, which are only used once a year. However, every rally is a test for the team. The processes in Monte Carlo recently were top-class. We want to follow on from this in Sweden and continue developing from rally to rally.’

2013 Volkswagen Polo R WRC

The pressure will be on: Latvala and Anttila won the 2012 event before the pairing signed for Volkswagen Motorsport late last year, and the Rally Sweden is seen as a ‘home’ event for Scandinavian drivers. ‘I really like the Rally Sweden. The event requires a very quick and flowing driving style on Swedish forest roads. I have now driven 500 kilometres on snow in the Polo R WRC. However, we will slot in another test day on snow and the car works very well in these conditions. I am already very happy with the way it feels to drive. I have fond memories of the Rally Sweden, such as my very first WRC victory in 2008 and, of course, my win there last year. My goal for this season is to finish in the top five,’ Latvala said.

Sébastien Ogier echoed his team mate’s sentiments: ‘The season could hardly have started better. Heading to Sweden with 18 points is a nice position to be in. This allows us to relax a little. However, we are now faced with a new rally, and it is hard to predict what awaits us. We will have to wait until after the first special stages. I really like the Rally Sweden. If the snow conditions are good, it is really good fun. The average speed is high, and the grip on studded tyres is fantastic. I love pulling off big drifts with a rally car on ice,’ he said.

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22 January 2013 ~ 1 Comment

Impressive debut – Polo R WRC takes second place on 2013 Rallye Monte Carlo

Volkswagen Polo R WRC: 2013 Rallye Monte Carlo

We didn’t want to get our hopes up, as the cruel hand of fate has a habit of bringing them down to size, but Volkswagen Motorsport and the Polo R WRC enjoyed an impressive debut on the team’s first World Rally Championship event, the 2013 Rallye Monte Carlo from 15-20 January. French duo Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia set the pace from day one, driving the fastest time on the first stage – from then on, the pair didn’t look back. Rewarded with a second place on what was one of the most challenging ‘Montes’ in recent years, the new car performed well, and only reigning WRC champions Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena charged even harder.

The #8 car of Ogier/Ingrassia took two special stage wins in all, on snowy, icy, and wet asphalt surfaces in the French Maritime Alps. The first was on ‘Le Moulinon’, at 3.71km the longest special stage on the event, and was a milestone achievement for the Volkswagen Motorsport team after 17 months and many thousand kilometres of testing. The second day brought another best time on the fifth stage ‘La Batie D’Andaure’, cementing their runners-up position. Over the four-day event, Volkswagen Motorsport recorded top three results in 14 of the 16 special stages. Heavy rain and unpredictable weather brought the event to an early close, the organisers rightly having concerns over both the drivers’ and spectators’ safety.

Unfortunately, it was too late for Volkswagen Motorsport car #7 of Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila, who were forced to retire after sliding off in spectacular style on the legendary Col de Turini. The Finns had been consistent up to that point, and were in fifth place overall. Latvala couldn’t believe his luck: ‘I am very disappointed. There was more wet snow in the first run through the Col de Turini stage than I expected. I was too fast right at the beginning, the car did not turn as expected, and I crashed heavily. There was nothing I could do. It is bitter to end the Rallye Monte Carlo this way. I am sorry as the cars were prepared brilliantly.’

Ogier, understandably, was more upbeat with his result. ‘I never was as happy about a second place as I was today. To reach the podium in our debut with the Polo R WRC is just great. These were probably the most difficult conditions in a Rallye Monte Carlo that I have ever experienced. Especially today, during the first run to the Col de Turini, it was extremely slippery, so that speeds of more than 20 kph were not possible. It was just about keeping the car on the road. The entire team worked very hard during the past year, and I am happy to give something back to them. I am sorry for Jari-Matti but I am sure that we will celebrate further victories together for Volkswagen Motorsport in the future.’

Meanwhile, Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director praised the whole team: ‘Second place in the first rally of the new Polo R WRC is more than we could have expected. The team did an exceptional job in the last four rally days and prepared the cars perfectly. The Rallye Monte Carlo is the most complex event in the calendar and the team has here shown that they are ready for the World Rally Championship. There was no mistake, not the slightest problem. One cannot value the performance of Sébastien Ogier high enough. He drove the “Monte” for in a World Rally Car the first time. There is no other rally in which the driver’s impact on the result is bigger. That is why we will not see where we stand with the Polo R WRC until after the upcoming events.’

Overall, a fantastic start to Volkswagen’s three-year WRC campaign. Straight out of the box the 315bhp four-wheel drive Polo R WRC has proved it’s not only competitive, but a formidable rally weapon in the right hands. It’s a shame both cars didn’t finish, but thankfully Latvala and Anttila were uninjured after their fairly major accident. The next round of the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship is the Rally Sweden, from 7-10 February. We look forward to seeing Volkswagen Motorsport build on the Polo R WRC’s initial success.

1 Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (F/MC), Citroën: 5h 18m 57.2s
2 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen: + 1m 38.9s
3 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (E/E), Citroën: + 3m 49.1s
4 Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN/FIN), Citroën: + 5m 26.3s
5 Bryan Bouffier/Xavier Panseri (F/F), Citroën: + 8m 13.1s

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11 January 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Motorsport and Polo R WRC set for debut at Rallye Monte Carlo

2013 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, testing

Wednesday 16 January sees Volkswagen Motorsport’s development of the Polo R WRC take on a much more critical role – the 300bhp, four-wheel drive rally weapon finally has its competitive debut on the ‘mother of all rallies’, the Rallye Monte Carlo. With over 20,000km of testing under their belts the engineers and drivers can develop the car no more – we’ll finally see what it’s made of. First Volkswagen Motorsport signings Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia will be in car number 8, while Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila will be in car number 7.

‘I cannot wait to finally getting going. The entire team at Volkswagen is looking forward to the WRC debut of the Polo WRC,’ said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. ‘World Championship rallies in the top WRC class are new territory for the team. Furthermore, the Polo R WRC has been developed from scratch and features a lot of innovative ideas. The “Monte” will give us our first indication of how we compare with the opposition – our rivals already have two years’ experience of the regulations that came into force in 2011. Our goal for the Rallye Monte Carlo is to gain as much experience as possible and also to finish with both cars.’

The Rallye Monte Carlo was first held in 1911 and has legendary status. Run through the narrow-tracked mountain roads in the French Maritime Alps to the north of the prinicipality of Monaco, drivers are often faced with black ice and snow on the many mountain passes they are required to negotiate. This makes it essential to select the right tyre – and makes the ‘Monte’ one of the most difficult and complex rallies on the World Championship calendar. We’ll be reporting on the event next week, so be sure to come back and read how the first event and the beginning of a new chapter in the Polo’s motorsport career unfolds.

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