22 January 2013 ~ 1 Comment

Impressive debut – Polo R WRC takes second place on 2013 Rallye Monte Carlo

Volkswagen Polo R WRC: 2013 Rallye Monte Carlo

We didn’t want to get our hopes up, as the cruel hand of fate has a habit of bringing them down to size, but Volkswagen Motorsport and the Polo R WRC enjoyed an impressive debut on the team’s first World Rally Championship event, the 2013 Rallye Monte Carlo from 15-20 January. French duo Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia set the pace from day one, driving the fastest time on the first stage – from then on, the pair didn’t look back. Rewarded with a second place on what was one of the most challenging ‘Montes’ in recent years, the new car performed well, and only reigning WRC champions Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena charged even harder.

The #8 car of Ogier/Ingrassia took two special stage wins in all, on snowy, icy, and wet asphalt surfaces in the French Maritime Alps. The first was on ‘Le Moulinon’, at 3.71km the longest special stage on the event, and was a milestone achievement for the Volkswagen Motorsport team after 17 months and many thousand kilometres of testing. The second day brought another best time on the fifth stage ‘La Batie D’Andaure’, cementing their runners-up position. Over the four-day event, Volkswagen Motorsport recorded top three results in 14 of the 16 special stages. Heavy rain and unpredictable weather brought the event to an early close, the organisers rightly having concerns over both the drivers’ and spectators’ safety.

Unfortunately, it was too late for Volkswagen Motorsport car #7 of Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila, who were forced to retire after sliding off in spectacular style on the legendary Col de Turini. The Finns had been consistent up to that point, and were in fifth place overall. Latvala couldn’t believe his luck: ‘I am very disappointed. There was more wet snow in the first run through the Col de Turini stage than I expected. I was too fast right at the beginning, the car did not turn as expected, and I crashed heavily. There was nothing I could do. It is bitter to end the Rallye Monte Carlo this way. I am sorry as the cars were prepared brilliantly.’

Ogier, understandably, was more upbeat with his result. ‘I never was as happy about a second place as I was today. To reach the podium in our debut with the Polo R WRC is just great. These were probably the most difficult conditions in a Rallye Monte Carlo that I have ever experienced. Especially today, during the first run to the Col de Turini, it was extremely slippery, so that speeds of more than 20 kph were not possible. It was just about keeping the car on the road. The entire team worked very hard during the past year, and I am happy to give something back to them. I am sorry for Jari-Matti but I am sure that we will celebrate further victories together for Volkswagen Motorsport in the future.’

Meanwhile, Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director praised the whole team: ‘Second place in the first rally of the new Polo R WRC is more than we could have expected. The team did an exceptional job in the last four rally days and prepared the cars perfectly. The Rallye Monte Carlo is the most complex event in the calendar and the team has here shown that they are ready for the World Rally Championship. There was no mistake, not the slightest problem. One cannot value the performance of Sébastien Ogier high enough. He drove the “Monte” for in a World Rally Car the first time. There is no other rally in which the driver’s impact on the result is bigger. That is why we will not see where we stand with the Polo R WRC until after the upcoming events.’

Overall, a fantastic start to Volkswagen’s three-year WRC campaign. Straight out of the box the 315bhp four-wheel drive Polo R WRC has proved it’s not only competitive, but a formidable rally weapon in the right hands. It’s a shame both cars didn’t finish, but thankfully Latvala and Anttila were uninjured after their fairly major accident. The next round of the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship is the Rally Sweden, from 7-10 February. We look forward to seeing Volkswagen Motorsport build on the Polo R WRC’s initial success.

2013 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP, RALLYE MONTE CARLO: FINAL RESULTS
1 Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (F/MC), Citroën: 5h 18m 57.2s
2 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen: + 1m 38.9s
3 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (E/E), Citroën: + 3m 49.1s
4 Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN/FIN), Citroën: + 5m 26.3s
5 Bryan Bouffier/Xavier Panseri (F/F), Citroën: + 8m 13.1s

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