02 September 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Home event heartache – Volkswagen Motorsport misses out at Rally Germany

2013 Volkswagen Polo R WRC: Rally Germany, Ogier/Ingrassia

It was heartache for Volkswagen Motorsport at the recent Rally Germany, which took place in and around the vineyards of the Trier region of Germany, near Cologne from 22-25 August. The team missed out on a podium place, and suffered repeated runs of bad luck on its ‘home’ event. The first time the Polo R WRCs haven’t scored a place in the top three finishers, both Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala were unlucky in the vine-lined tracks and surrounding countryside. Third driver Andreas Mikkelsen didn’t even start the event, as his co-driver Mikko Markkula was unable to compete in the rally due to two injured vertebrae. However, eight of the fifteen stages held were won by the Polo R WRC at this purely asphalt-based rally. Moreover, at least one Volkswagen driver finished every stage in the top three.

It started well for Ogier and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia, leading the event after two stage wins on day one. Entering day two as overall leaders, the French duo then skidded on a slippery corner, with Ogier missing his braking point, damaging their Polo R WRC’s front suspension. After trying to continue at a much slower speed, they were forced to sit out the rest of the day’s action, the stricken Polo sitting bonnet first in a row of vines. However, all was not lost – under Rally 2 regulations, the pair were allowed to resume on day three, and recorded three fastest stage times from a possible five. Day four’s fastest time on the rally’s final stage of softened the blow, with the Frenchmen adding the Power Stage’s three points to their tally in the drivers’ championship, which keeps them at the top of the pile.

‘Of course, that is not how we hoped the weekend would pan out, but we were still able to make the best of it. The win in the Power Stage at the end was a nice success and may still prove to be important in the shake-up for the World Championship. I’m sorry for the team that we were not able to win our home rally. I’m really happy for Dani Sordo, because he has had a tough season so far and a first World Championship win is always something special. I’m now looking forward to Australia, and both Julien and I will be trying to edge ever closer to that 2013 World Championship title,’ said a disappointed but wistful Ogier.

Following Ogier and Ingrassia’s retirement, Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila took the lead and the Finnish pair continued to build on their advantage until the eleventh stage. Their best asphalt performance to date, Polo R WRC no 7 clipped a ‘Hinkelsteine’ concrete block on the ‘Arena Panzerplatte’ stage, damaging the passenger door. Anttila then had to hold and relay pace notes in his left hand and stop the door from flying open on every corner with his right hand. The resulting slight delay in communication between co-driver and driver saw them slide from the track after damaging the rear suspension, forcing their retirement. But, like Ogier and Ingrassia, the Finns resumed under Rally 2 regulations, and collected valuable drivers’ and manufacturers’ championship points with a third place Power Stage finish.

‘Let’s start with the positive: I have improved on my performances on asphalt from the past. I had never led an asphalt-based rally before and the times show that I am getting better on this surface. There is still room for improvement, but I’m happy that I was able to pick up some more points for the team in the constructors’ championship after yesterday’s disappointment, even though the result was anything but perfect for me personally. Nevertheless, I’ll be going into the upcoming rallies with confidence and will do everything I can to give my team the best chance in the fight for the Constructors’ Championship. I’m happy for Dani Sordo, who is celebrating his first ever World Championship rally win here in Germany,’ commented Latvala.

Jost Capito, Director of Volkswagen Motorsport was reflective: ‘To win eight of the fifteen stages is a good sign and matches the amount we have been achieving prior to the Rally Germany. The Polo R WRC is also competitive on asphalt. However, our home race did not go as we had imagined or hoped it would. And that’s disappointing for us. Both Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala led the rally at some stage, but were forced to retire. We were close to victory, but missed out. In sport, you can’t plan success, and nor take anything for granted.

‘This is especially the case in the WRC, where it’s about every detail and no mistakes can be made. And it is exactly this which makes our sport so fascinating. We will now work hard to be successful at Rally Australia. We send our congratulations to Dani Sordo for his deserved maiden victory in the WRC, which was overdue.’ Spaniard Sordo’s Rally Germany win means Citroën remain undefeated on asphalt for almost ten years. Latvala/Anttila finished the ninth race of the season in seventh, while Ogier/Ingrassia were 16th.

2013 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP, GERMANY: FINAL RESULTS

1 Daniel Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (E/E), Citroën: 3h 15m 19.4s

2 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Ford: +53.0s

3 Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN/FIN), Citroën: +2m 36.1s
4 Martin Prokop/Michal Ernst (CZ/CZ), Ford: +8m 00.8s

5 Robert Kubica/Maciek Baran (PL/PL), Citroën: +9m 1.3s

2013 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS

1 Sébastien Ogier, 184
2 Thierry Neuville, 109
3 Jari-Matti Latvala, 98
4 Dani Sordo, 96
5 Mikko Hirvonen, 88

2013 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

MANUFACTURERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
1 Volkswagen Motorsport, 262
2 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT, 236
3 Qatar M-Sport WRT, 129
4 Qatar WRT, 124
5 Jipocar Czech National Team, 51

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