Archive | WRC

03 August 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Not quite a perfect Finnish: second place for Latvala and Anttila at Rally Finland

2016 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Finland: Latvala/Anttila

Once again the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) failed to lived up its 2016 all-conquering Sébastien Ogier expectations, with part-time Citroën driver Kris Meeke stepping onto the winner’s podium at the eighth round of the series, Rally Finland. Finnish Volkswagen Motorsport driver Jari-Matti Latvala was second at his home rally, set in the forests and lakes around Jyväskylä on 28-31 July.

Form in Finland
Latvala has form in Finland, having won one of the fastest events on the WRC calendar in both 2015 and 2014, and he set the pace on the pre-event shakedown, 0.5 seconds ahead of team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen, both of whom tied for second. Latvala’s start in Finland – his 164th – saw him surpass Mikko Hirvonen as the most experienced Finnish rally driver in WRC history.

The Finn’s second place in his home country event sees him and co-driver Miikka Anttila climb to third place in the Drivers’ Championship, behind runner-up team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen and fellow Volkswagen Motorsport driver and current world champion Sébastien Ogier. Although a good result, reports that a ‘lack of fighting spirit’ was to blame for the Finnish driver not securing a third successive win.

However, it was Ogier’s somewhat uncharacteristic excursion into a ditch following a tight hairpin on stage 10 which made him revaluate his performance. Overall, though, Latvala seemed happy with the result: ‘I am happy with my performance this weekend, even though I came up just short of a hat-trick of wins at the Rally Finland.

‘Very good haul’
‘Second place and a point on the Power Stage is a very good haul. I also climbed a place in the overall standings. All in all, we could not have done any more against Kris Meeke this weekend. Thank you to all the many fans who supported me. It is always very special to drive here on home soil. We now move on to the asphalt season, which was remarkably good to me last year,’ he stated.

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05 July 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Polish podium for Mikkelsen as puncture denies Tanak WRC win

2016 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Poland: Mikkelsen/Jæger

In what must be the closest event yet this season, the seventh round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) saw victory go to Volkswagen Motorsport’s Andreas Mikkelsen – but it was down to the wire. Up until the penultimate stage, Estonian DMACK Fiesta crew Ott Tänak and Raigo Mõlder had set a blistering pace on Rally Poland and looked untouchable.

Mikkelsen and co-driver Anders Jæger had driven on the edge of their limits all weekend, and had chased Tanak hard. They were consigning themselves to the second step of the Polish podium, when the Estonian duo suffered an unfortunately-timed puncture on the penultimate stage. An emergency tyre change saw the pair relegated to second place, and the disappointment was palpable.

Sweep supremely fast
A dry event right up until the final day had seen Mikkelsen’s 318bhp Polo R WRC sweep supremely fast through the majority of the event’s 306.1km, and when the rain arrived, it altered grip levels instantly, Tanak one of the casualties who lost time due to tyre choice. And while the runner-up position is still held in high regard, it didn’t soften the blow dealt by the Norwegian Volkswagen driver’s second WRC win.

New-for-2016 pairing Mikkelsen and Jæger proved their mettle in Poland and were the third duo onto the route for the first two days of the rally, which saw them sweep the road clear of loosed gravel for the following drivers. And as first-runner Ogier knows, that’s a distinct disadvantage which slows the car down. However, the young guns from Norway still finished in the top three on 15 of the 21 special stages, and made sure the battle with Tänak and Mõlder lasted for the whole event.

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13 June 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Double podium and an extended championship lead for VW at Rally Italy

2016 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Italy: Latvala/Anttila

Following Rally Portugal, the sixth round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship was won by the fifth different driver this season. Belgian Thierry Neuville and his co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul lifted the trophy in Sardinia at the 2016 Rally Italy, with Volkswagen crews Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila second and Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia third.

Just as with last month’s WRC outing in Portugal, while Volkswagen Motorsport failed to win the Italian round of the championship, the podium places helped push its lead still further. The Hanover-based team is now 70 points of nearest rival Hyundai Motorsport, while current three-time world champion Ogier is 64 points clear of second-placed Dani Sordo in the driver standings.

High temperatures and dust
The high 30-degree temperatures and vast quantities of dust proved challenging for the 2016 event drivers. Ogier and Ingrassia once again ‘swept’ the stages open, thanks to their first place in the championship table. While the running order may change for 2017, 2016’s regulations yielded few chances for the French pair to challenge for the lead, the duo swapping over 87 per cent of the roads for other competitors.

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24 May 2016 ~ 0 Comments

2016 Rally Portugal podiums for Mikkelsen and Ogier

2016 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Portugal: Ogier/Ingrassia

Four winners in five rounds of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship – that was the result of the 2016 Rally Portugal, at which Citroën’s Kris Meeke reigned supreme. That of course means one thing: victory escaped Volkswagen Motorsport’s three-time world champion Sébastien Ogier.

But, it wasn’t all bad news: although Ogier finished uncharacteristically on the last step of the podium, his finish and Andreas Mikkelsen’s second place shored up the Volkswagen Motorsport points tally in the overall championship standings.

Mikkelsen and co-driver Anders Jæger’s finish benefitted them in particular, with the Norwegian pair leapfrogging two places up the Drivers’ Championship table, now just 47 points behind their leading French team-mates. Whatever the outcome, the podium places in Portugal were the 318bhp Polo R WRC’s 75th and 76th top three results in the car’s 44th competitive event. What of Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila? The Finnish duo came home sixth.

‘Cautious approach’
Ogier claimed he was close to both his and the car’s limits in Portugal: ‘That was certainly one of the toughest and most physically demanding rallies I have ever driven at in Portugal. Julien and I were once again right on the limit this weekend. As such, I am very happy with my performance. I would obviously have liked to have stayed ahead of Andreas. However, after the slow puncture on Sunday’s first stage, we had to take a slightly more cautious approach.

‘Without another spare tyre it would have been too risky otherwise with these route conditions. I would like to say an extra big ‘Obrigado’ to the many Portuguese fans. The crowds here are simply fantastic. It is great to see that the entire country is supporting rallying – whether the police, fans or the president himself, who popped in to see us in the service park.’

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28 April 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Polo R WRCs on the podium: Ogier and Mikkelsen score at Rally Argentina

2016 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Argentina: Ogier/Ingrassia

After an eventful three days, Volkswagen Motorsport’s Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen stood on the second and third steps respectively of the 36th Rally Argentina podium. Hyundai Motorsport’s Hayden Paddon emerged victorious after an incident-packed fourth round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), which ran around the gravel tracks surrounding Córdoba from 21-24 April.

Second-fastest time
After a six-week break, the Volkswagen team were all ready for the 364.68km Argentine event and, along with Hyundai, set the pace on Shakedown. Recording the second and third fastest times, the Hannover-based outfit Jari-Matti Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila were in the leading Polo R WRC, with Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia third. Norwegians Mikkelsen and Anders Jæger were fifth.

Going into the action proper on the first special stage – a 1.5-km long spectator-lined spectacle in the centre of Córdoba – Volkswagen’s Ogier was keen to clinch victory as the South American round is the only one on the current WRC calendar the Frenchman is yet to win. It started well, with the Gap-born driver clocking the fastest time along with Hyundai’s Dani Sordo. Latvala finished twelfth, while Mikkelsen was just one place below his Finnish team-mate.

The first full day of action delivered action aplenty. Latvala and Anttila stormed ahead after 152 kilometres of stages to take the lead, leaving Ogier and Ingrassia trailing over seven seconds behind. Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon and John Kennard were an impressive third in the i20 WRC, one place ahead of Mikkelsen and Jæger.

Spectacular crash
Still on a high after their victory at Rally Mexico last month, Latvia and Anttila were on a charge. Sadly, it wasn’t to last. On stage 14 of day two, the Finns spectacularly crashed out after hitting a rock at the side of the road. The number ‘2’ Polo R WRC rolled several times, and the damage to the car was so severe, the pair were forced to retire. The Finns’ exit was great shame, as Latvala had finally seemed to have broken his 2016 start-of-season run of bad luck.

Almost unbelievably, Latvala’s departure handed the rally lead to young Paddon, who was 29.8 seconds ahead of world champion Ogier. Going into the last four special stages and 55.28 kilometres of the final day, it was a David and Goliath battle to play for. Mikkelsen and Jæger had kept up the pace, too, and finished the day 14.5 seconds behind Ogier and Ingrassia.

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