27 January 2015 ~ 0 Comments

2015 Polo R WRC makes dream debut at Rally Monte Carlo with Volkswagen 1-2-3

2015 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Monte Carlo: Ogier/Ingrassia

Volkswagen has continued where it left off at the end of the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), and taken victory at the 2015 Rally Monte Carlo. The opening event of the 2015 season last weekend actually saw a Volkswagen podium lock-out, with Sébastien Ogier taking first place, Jari-Matti Latvala finishing in second, while Andreas Mikkelsen rounded out the third step of winners’ rostrum.

The second-generation Polo R WRC was unveiled a week prior to the legendary ‘Monte’, and with tweaks including a paddle-shift gearbox and 3bhp more powerful engine, powered Volkswagen to become only the fifth manufacturer ever to claim a one-two-three at one of the world’s most iconic motorsport events. Ogier and Latvala took control of the new-for-2015 Polo R WRC in Monte Carlo, while Mikkelsen and his co-driver Ola Fløene were piloting the 2014 championship-winning car.

23rd Polo R WRC victory
The Rally Monte Carlo 1-2-3 was Volkswagen Motorsport’s 23rd victory with the Polo R WRC, as well as the 11th time it has had more than one crew on the podium since it joined the WRC in 2013. It was Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia’s 25th podium in Monte Carlo, the second consecutive year the pair have done so. Other manufacturers to have scored a Monte Carlo ‘triple’ finish are Audi, Citroën, Lancia and Renault-Alpine.

Ogier was understandably ecstatic: ‘What a fantastic start to the new season! I’m over the moon. Getting a win at the Rally Monte Carlo is special for any driver, but words can’t describe what a win here means to me – this is my home. Friends, family and fans give me so much support and self-confidence here. The atmosphere was magical. I’m grateful that I can give something back with my joy. This 83rd staging of the “Monte” is one of the most difficult rallies I can remember, as far as the conditions are concerned.

‘Selecting the tyres was particularly difficult at the start. Then there was the exciting battle with Sébastien Loeb, who was producing spectacular times on Thursday. Big thanks go to our team and my ice spies. It goes without saying that I am also delighted with the great overall result for Volkswagen; as long as I’m at the top, Jari-Matti and Andreas are my favourite people to share the podium with.’

The 2015 Rally Monte Carlo started off with the anticipated battle of the Sébastiens – nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb returned to the WRC fray at the 2015 ‘Monte’ in a Citroën DS3 and managed to keep his younger namesake at bay until the halfway point of the event. Ogier then moved into an eight second lead ahead of the WRC master who suffered an incident with his nearside rear wheel, dropping him down the leaderboard, and ending the closely-fought and thrilling duel.

Determining factors
But Ogier’s fight wasn’t without determining factors. The usual ‘Monte’ conditions prevailed, with dry asphalt scattered with a liberal coating of black ice, snow and slush. Conditions changed every kilometre or so, with teams having to make tyre choices carefully. Every crew were able to select 30 Michelin competition tyres from a bank of 82 – eight hard compound, 40 soft, 10 winter and 24 studded. The ever-changeable and varied conditions meant every selection of rubber was a gamble.

For Volkswagen Motorsport, though, it was a gamble which paid off. Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila scored their best-ever Rally Monte Carlo result, and it was the same story for Mikkelsen and Fløene. At the 2014 event for instance, the Finnish pairing of Latvala and Anttila were three places further down the field in fifth, while Norwegian duo Mikkelsen and Fløene were two places behind their Finnish team-mates. Latvala climbed into second place on the seventh special stage, and held it for the duration of the rally. Correspondingly, Mikkelsen moved into third place on the exact same stage.

‘We couldn’t have wished for a better start. Our aim right from the word go was to finish in the top four, and we did better than that. I’m delighted,’ exclaimed Latvala. ‘It’s a weight off my mind since my previous starts at the Rally Monte Carlo hadn’t exactly been successful. The conditions weren’t easy and you had to compromise on speed to avoid making mistakes. After we had built up a good lead early on, it was all about getting the overall result, and no longer about setting the fastest times. The one-two-three is the best reward for the whole team, who put so much effort and passion into developing the new Polo.’

Mikkelsen was also decidedly upbeat: ‘That was obviously an outstanding start to the new season for the whole team. You don’t celebrate a one-two-three at the “Monte” every day. I’m proud to have played a part. Before we set off I would have taken any spot in the top five. Third place exceeds all my expectations. The conditions at this “Monte” were extremely difficult and it was the first time that I have started here when there has been snow, ice and slippery asphalt. Right from the start my focus was on finishing safely – and it paid off. Quite simply, it was a dream start.’

500th special stage
The final special stage, the Power Stage, was the 500th such outing for the Polo R WRC since it made its WRC debut in January 2013. The German rally car can now claim the highest ever win ratio in the World Rally Championship, with 85.2 per cent of all possible victories going to the 318bhp four-wheel drive powerhouse. Volkswagen Motorsport has also been top of the podium for 347 our of 500 special stages. Latvala and Anttila claimed third at the Monte Carlo Power Stage, resulting in bonus points for the Finns, as the top three cars through collect extra marks.

‘A one-two-three at the Rally Monte Carlo is a fantastic performance from the entire Volkswagen team, and I am very proud of our crew,’ said Dr Heinz-Jakob Neußer, Volkswagen Board Member for Technical Development. ‘To start the season in this manner with a new car, and in such difficult conditions, far exceeds our expectations. Everyone was there for each other, knew exactly what he or she had to do, and Volkswagen ultimately deserved to win. This team is now deservedly up there with the other big rally manufacturers.’

All Volkswagen Motorsport had to do was to send out three new spectacular-liveried Polo R WRCs and have them finish. With the talented service teams and top-flight drivers, that sounds easy, but with the most treacherous conditions on a Monte Carlo Rally seen for some time (if not ever), the German outfit demands the most sincere congratulations for such a tremendous result. And that is exactly what PoloDriver.com is offering. So, congratulations all, and we look forward to the epic battles, the highs and the lows, and the excitement that the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship brings.

2015 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

RALLY MONTE CARLO FINAL RESULTS

1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen: 3h 36m 40.2s

2 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen: + 58.0s

3 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), Volkswagen: + 2m 12.3s

4 Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S), Citroën: + 2m 43.6s

5 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai: + 3m 12.1s

2015 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS

1 Sébastien Ogier, 25

2 Jari-Matti Latvala, 19

3 Andreas Mikkelsen, 15
4 Mads Østberg, 12
5 Thierry Neuville, 10

2015 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

MANUFACTURERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS

1 Volkswagen Motorsport, 43
2 Hyundai Motorsport, 27

3 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT, 12
4 M-Sport, 12
5 Jipocar Czech National Team, 6

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