Archive | 2014 FIA World Rally Championship

10 March 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Viva Volkswagen! 2014 Rally Mexico one-two for Ogier and Latvala

2014 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Mexico: Ogier/Ingrassia

Heading to Rally Mexico (6-9 March) leading the 2014 World Rally Championship, Volkswagen Motorsport stayed on top with a one-two finish for Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala. The fourth Volkswagen one-two in WRC history, it all started on Thursday night with a 1km Super Special stage in the town of Guanajuato. The Volkswagen top two finished the fast and furious action around the UNESCO World Heritage site first and third, while the young Volkswagen pilot Andreas Mikkeslen came in fifth.

Rally Mexico is renowned for its tough, dusty and high-altitude conditions, and Ogier and Latvala faced a bigger challenge – being first and second on the stages due to their overall championship positions. After the opening Super Special stage, the second day delivered more flawless action from the Frenchman and the Finn, who opened up a substantial lead over the competition. The final day saw the pace controlled and the Volkswagen stars claimed a fourth one-two for the German outfit.

Sébastien Ogier was rightly ecstatic: ‘Mexico really is a fantastic country for us! I like the rally, and it seems to like me. Our entire team did a sensational job all weekend, and the Polo R WRC was once again super reliable and super quick in extreme conditions. I was hungry for this win after my mistake in Sweden! And although we will now have to act as street sweepers for the opposition at the next round in Portugal, the World Championship points are more important than anything else.’

With dust and loose gravel to contend with, the leading Polo R WRCs were effectively street sweepers, but mighty ones at that: Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia were 5:28.6 minutes ahead of the best-placed non-Volkswagen driver at the end of the event on Sunday. The French pair are now back in the lead at the top of the championship points table, nosing ahead of Latvala and his co-driver Miikka Anttila.

Latvala was reflective, but happy: ‘I am really very happy with second place. Having been first onto the route on day one, which meant we were quite a long way off the lead, we set our sights on a place on the podium. Rally Mexico was hard work and also very demanding on the cars. The Polo coped admirably with the stresses and strains of the high altitude and soaring temperatures, and our team also did a perfect job.’

With the double finish, Volkswagen Motorsport is now 55 points ahead of nearest rival Citroën in the Manufacturers’ Championship, while Mikkelsen and his co-driver Mikko Markkula are fourth overall.

It wasn’t plain sailing for the young Norwegian, though. On Friday the pair suffered damaged suspension when they hit a rock exiting a corner on the ‘El Chocolate’ stage, forcing retirement from second position. Saturday meanwhile saw Polo R WRC #9 roll, when a mistake in the pace notes saw a corner cut and the car hit a hole in the road, flipping it over.

But, as ever, the super-competent Volkswagen Motorsport mechanics worked miracles, and the battered Polo was back as good as new for the final day’s action on Sunday. Repairing the rolled car took just under three hours, the time limit specified in the WRC regulations. As it was Mikkelsen and Markkula’s first time at Rally Mexico, they used the final day of the event to gather experience rather than championship points.

Mikkelsen acknowledged his errors. ‘A tough rally for us. Retiring twice is not exactly what we had in mind. I just made too many mistakes. Thanks to the great job done by my mechanics, I was still able to gain a few kilometres of experience at Rally Mexico on Sunday, which will allow us to push hard again next year. All in all, we learned an awful lot here – unfortunately we did it the hard way.’

The Polo R WRC proved faultless as usual, dealing unflappably with Rally Mexico’s difficult conditions. With the special stages taking teams from 1800 to 2800 metres above sea level, rally cars can suffer. The higher they go, the cooling efficiency of the engine decreases due to the lower air pressure and oxygen content in the air, but the Polo R WRC was prepared well with software intelligence, minimising performance losses.

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director was more than happy with his team’s results. ‘A one-two in these difficult conditions and given the new regulations regarding the starting order is more than we had expected coming into Rally Mexico. I take my hat off to Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and our engineers, who made this success possible. The performance of the two drivers was undoubtedly outstanding.

‘However, the one-two is also a team success. Whether the chassis department or the engine department, the Polo R WRC was perfectly prepared for the difficult conditions. The champagne tastes particularly good today, as success in Mexico is always a bit special. It is the first gravel event of the year, and virtually a home event for Volkswagen. After all, our models are part of the scenery here. Everything came together here in Mexico, and we are very proud of what we have achieved.’

2014 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,
RALLY MEXICO: FINAL RESULTS


1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen: 4h 27m 41.8s
2 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen: + 1m 12.6s
3 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai: + 5m 28.6s
4 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (GB/GB), Ford: + 6m 49.3s
5 Martin Prokop/Jan Tománek (CZ/CZ): Ford + 9m 54.4s

2014 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS

1 Sébastien Ogier, 63
2 Jari-Matti Latvala, 60
3 Mads Østberg, 32
4 Andreas Mikkelsen, 24
5 Elfyn Evans, 20

2014 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,
MANUFACTURERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS

1 Volkswagen Motorsport, 115
2 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT, 60
3 M-Sport, 40
4 Hyundai Motorsport, 31
5 Volkswagen Motorsport II, 28

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14 February 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Latvala leads – third Rally Sweden victory sees Finn edge ahead in WRC standings

2014 Volkswagen Polo R WRC: Rally Sweden, Latvala/Anttila

With two previous Rally Sweden victories under his belt, Jari-Matti Latavala was aiming for a hat-trick at the Scandinavian round of the 2014 World Rally Championship, run from 5-8 February. And with his second victory for Volkswagen Motorsport, he got it.

Fighting an exciting duel with team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen saw the Finn emerge victorious, while his Norweigan foe took second. The Swedish forests weren’t kind to world champion Sébastien Ogier, though, who after suffering an off into a snow bank, finished sixth.

Volkswagen’s second one-two of the season came in difficult conditions, with milder than expected weather thawing out the snow-covered tracks, making grip difficult. The Polo R WRC proved it mettle once again, though, taking the top 43 of 69 possible top three times, 18 of which were stage wins.

There were even moments when all three Volkswagen driver pairings were in the top three of the Rally Sweden leaderboard, wiping the floor with their competitors. Latvala’s victory also propelled him to the top of the Drivers’ Championship table (for the first time), five points ahead of Ogier.

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22 January 2014 ~ 0 Comments

‘Monte’ magic – Ogier leads VW’s 2014 rally charge with French win

2014 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rallye Monte Carlo: Ogier/Ingrassia

The 2014 World Rally Championship (WRC) season got off to a magical start for Volkswagen Motorsport last weekend, as reigning champions Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia took victory at Rallye Monte Carlo. The opening round win was the second Monte triumph for the French pair in Polo R WRC chassis no 17, their 17th in the WRC, and their 10th with Volkswagen Motorsport.

It was good news for the other two Volkswagen Motorsport crews, too, with Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila finishing fifth in Polo R WRC chassis no 18, while Andreas Mikkelsen and Mikko Markkula took chassis no 15 to seventh place in the final classification.

Behind Ogier and Ingrassia (also fastest in the pre-event shakedown test ahead of the first day), Ford Fiesta driver Bryan Bouffier finished second, while Irishman Kris Meeke of Citroën filled the last place on the podium.

Rallye Monte Carlo didn’t start well, with Ogier and Ingrassia down in ninth place on the first day, due to ever-changing weather conditions. The onset of winter in the French Maritime Alps saw snow and heavy rain in the valleys.

Based on weather data available at the time, the Polo R WRC drivers opted for tread-free slicks for the first three stages, leaving them struggling for grip on the slippery surfaces.

It was then the fightback began. Posting top-three fastest times from stage five onwards, Ogier and Ingrassia then won seven special stages. By the mid-point of the event, they were back in the lead, passing Bouffier.

With the action moving to the legendary Col de Turini on day three, heavy snow and blizzard conditions meant that stage 14 had to be cancelled by the time the second loop was due to commence.

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10 January 2014 ~ 0 Comments

2014 Polo R WRC – added dynacism under the bonnet and on the body

2014 Volkswagen Polo R WRC

Spot the differences. They are there, honest. Volkswagen Motorsport has unveiled the 2014 Polo R WRC rally car and, somewhat suprisingly, there are changes to the livery, as well as under the bonnet.

The current reigning world champion has made detailed improvements to the 315bhp motorsport Polo, to defend its title for the coming season. New grey and blue stripes mark out the 2014 car, which although subtle, make a big difference. It looks somehow meaner as a result.

Volkswagen Motorsport claims the four-wheel drive Polo R WRC is ‘more dynamic than ever’, thanks to last-minute mechanical developments. The rally-winning Polo claimed 10 of 2013’s 13 rallies, ensuring all three World Champions’ titles headed to VW.

A whole host of detailed improvements ahead of the season’s opener – the Rally Monte Carlo from 14-19 January – ensure the car, which carries so many hopes, is fighting fit for the tough tests ahead.

After last season, the team played 10 ‘jokers’, which allowed it to alter individual components when compared to the homologation documents submitted previously. Besides optimising various chassis components and new set-up variants for the car’s drivetrain, the priority for the engineers was to improve the stability of the super-Polo.

Volkswagen Motorsport used one ‘joker’ to install a new software version for the on-board electronics. Reliability was a key Polo R WRC strength during 2013. Three cars were campaigned, and while none suffered engine damage, only an electrical connection was deemed a technical fault.

‘If you don’t go forwards in motorsport, you go backwards,’ said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. ‘When it comes to technical development, you simply cannot afford to let up for a single second.

‘Although we won some laurels in 2013, we have certainly not rested on them. The manufacturers in the World Rally Championship agreed not to homologate any new World Rally Cars for the 2014 season. Despite this, we tried to take full advantage of the options still available to us.

‘Many detailed aspects of the 2014 Polo R WRC have been further developed since we made our debut twelve months ago. Every single member of the team cannot wait to find out where we stand compared to the strong competition we will face from Citroën and Ford, as well as our new opposition at Hyundai.’

Ahead of Rally Monte Carlo, the FIA has announced changes for the 2014 World Rally Championship. The previous qualifying procedure at gravel rallies is omitted. Instead, the starting order will be based on the current World Championship standings.

Detailed amendments have also been made to the rules allowing competitors to return under Rally 2 regulations. The itineraries for the rounds of the World Rally Championship will be standardised, too, with all rallies beginning with the start ceremony on Thursday and end with Sunday’s final stage.

The final special stage will always form the ‘Power Stage’, in which bonus points are up for grabs in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship for the first three cars through.

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08 January 2014 ~ 0 Comments

‘Project Title Defence’: Volkswagen Motorsport launches 2014 WRC attack

2014 Volkswagen Polo R WRC: 2014 championship Wolfsburg launch

Volkswagen Motorsport launched its 2014 World Rally Championship campaign yesterday, ahead of the first round of the series, Rally Monte Carlo, which takes place from 14-19 January.

At a presentation in Wolfsburg, it was revealed that the 315bhp Polo R WRC which defending champions Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia will pilot will wear the number 1, rather than the number eight of last season.

Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, Prof Dr Martin Winterkorn, and Volkswagen Board Member for Technical Development, Dr Heinz-Jakob Neußer, sent the Volkswagen Motorsport team on its way to the south of France event, the first of 13 tests which make up the 2014 calendar.

Launching ‘Project Title Defence’, Dr Winterkorn said: ‘The entire Volkswagen team performed magnificently in 2013 and won all three titles in the WRC. The key now is to follow on from this success. That means no arrogance or complacency, but maximum concentration and the desire to win once again.

‘If the team is able to heed this advice, we could do even better this year. That will obviously not be easy. Winning the titles was a milestone for the Volkswagen brand. Motorsport is not an end in itself for us – we compete to demonstrate the outstanding quality and innovation of our brand and our cars.

‘The Polo R WRC is, after all, based on a production chassis that is manufactured in Pamplona.’

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director agreed: ‘It goes without saying that preparations for the WRC season started well before today. We are as well prepared as possible for the Rally Monte Carlo and have further developed many details on the Polo R WRC.

‘This season’s World Rally Championship offers many new aspects, which will make the project to defend our titles demanding. We have a new opponent in Hyundai, while Ford and Citroën have new driving line-ups this season.

‘In Poland, a country full of rally enthusiasts returns to the WRC calendar. Everyone is looking forward to doing their best. It was thanks to our extraordinary team spirit that we achieved such great things during 2013.’

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