12 June 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Bellissimo! Ogier and Volkswagen Motorsport victorious at Rally Italy

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

It was business as usual in Sardinia, as Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia scored their fourth victory of the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), and their 20th WRC win overall. That means Volkswagen remains unbeaten in 2014, increasing its winning run to 10 consecutive victories.

The other Volkswagen Polo R WRC crews also did well: Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila were third, while Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene came home fourth.

Rally Italy was an event of excitement, as fans were treated to duel between Ogier and Latvala. Fighting for stage wins, Polo R WRCs numbers 1 and 2 were embroiled in battles for fractions of seconds, as well as the overall rally lead.

In a regular turn of events, Latvala suffered bad luck when he got a puncture and slipped down the leaderboard to third place.

Volkswagen Motorsport has stressed there is no team orders and its motto is ‘may the best man win’, which played to Latvala’s advantage on the fifth stage. Claiming the lead ahead of Ogier, the Frenchman won stages, matching his team-mate step for step.

With 100km of stages remaining before the rally reached its end, only 12.3 seconds separated the sparring team-mates.

An ecstatic Ogier said: ‘“I am overjoyed! This win was definitely one of the toughest of my career. Right from day one, Julien and I have pushed ourselves to the very limit here on Sardinia. In this heat, and with the extremely slippery conditions on the roads, we had to risk everything to put Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila under pressure.

‘It ultimately paid off, and we won. We may lead the World Championship at the halfway point in the season, but that is no reason to relax: Jari-Matti is on top form at the moment.’

The pressure was brought to bear on Latvala, though – on stage 13, ironically – as his Polo hit a rock, damaging a wheel. With immediate replacement the only option, the Finn then chased Citroën’s Mad Østberg to round out the Italian podium. It was Latvala and Anttila’s 43rd podium finish and their eleventh wearing the Volkswagen colours.

Latvala was typically downbeat: ‘I can’t really be too happy with third place. We led since Friday and were in with a good chance of winning here. Unfortunately Saturday’s skid and the resulting puncture dashed any hopes of victory. We tried to catch Mads Østberg on Sunday, but his lead was too big.

‘As far as pace is concerned, we were very good here. There is no doubting that. This has obviously not made the situation in the championship any easier, but there are still seven rallies to go, and we must look ahead.’

Mikkelsen was reunited with old partner Fløene for the first time since joining Volkswagen, and the Norwegian pair scored an impressive fourth – Mikkelsen’s third consecutive finish in that position. Before Latvala’s unlucky puncture, Mikkelsen was chasing Østberg for third place, until a rock strike damaged one of Polo R WRC number 9’s dampers.

Driving cautiously thereafter, Mikkelsen and Fløene then concentrated on bringing the car home in one piece.

‘We were in an easy position at the start of today. There was a big gap to third place, and an even bigger gap to fifth place behind us. We spent the entire morning concentrating on saving the tyres as much as possible for the Power Stage. This paid dividends, although we did make a few minor mistakes.

‘Despite this, I managed to win my first Power Stage. All in all, I am very happy with the Rally Italy. We achieved what we set out to achieve. I am happy to have Ola Fløene back at my side as co-driver. He immediately did a great job.

‘I would like to go at least one better next time. I am confident we can achieve that. The only way is up now for Ola and me,’ said a pleased Mikkelsen.

Due to current WRC regulations which state that the first stages have to be run in Driver Championship order, the Volkswagen crews had to run the stages first, sweeping the loose gravel for those in their wake.

Despite this handicap, the German outfit continued its winning run. The Polo R WRC now has 16 wins and 28 podiums to its name from 19 outings.

But, the World Rally Car from Wolfsburg is not just quick, but also reliable. In the 19 rallies since the Polo R WRC made its first appearance in 2013, the team has not suffered a single retirement as a result of a technical fault.

Volkswagen drivers have won 226 of the 343 special stages since last year’s Rally Monte Carlo. By the end of Rally Italy, the Polo R WRC had accounted for 521 of the 953 possible top-three times.

Similarly, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia increased their lead in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship to 33 points with their fourth win of the season. Therefore, the defending champion is now guaranteed to end the first half of the season at the top of the WRC standings, regardless of the result at the upcoming Rally Poland.

For the first time in the history of the Polo R WRC in the World Rally Championship, every single bonus point up for grabs on the Power Stage at Rally Italy went to the Wolfsburg-based manufacturer.

Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito was pleased with his team’s performance: ‘Respect to the entire team, and congratulations to Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia.

‘They not only repeated last year’s victory here in Italy, but also ensured that Volkswagen will lead all three competitions in the World Rally Championship at the halfway point of the season.

‘Behind this success lies a lot of hard work put in by the entire team on-site, in Wolfsburg and in Hannover. We will continue to work hard to ensure that the Polo R WRC and our drivers remain the ones to beat.’

The next round of the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship is the LOTOS 71 Rally Poland, which runs from 26-29 June.

2014 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

RALLY ITALY: FINAL RESULTS

1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingassia (F/F), Volkswagen: 4h 02m 37.8s

2 Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S), Citroën: + 1m 23.1s
3 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen: + 1m 32.8s

4 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), Volkswagen: + 2m 39.3s

5 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (GB/GB), Ford: + 4m 41.8s

2014 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS


1 Sébastien Ogier, 112

2 Jari-Matti Latvala, 105
3 Mads Østberg, 66

4 Andreas Mikkelsen, 63

5 Mikko Hirvonen, 40

2014 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

MANUFACTURERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS

1 Volkswagen Motorsport, 227

2 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT, 109

3 M-Sport, 78
4 Volkswagen Motorsport II, 64

5 Hyundai Motorsport, 57

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