22 January 2014 ~ 0 Comments

‘Monte’ magic – Ogier leads VW’s 2014 rally charge with French win

2014 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rallye Monte Carlo: Ogier/Ingrassia

The 2014 World Rally Championship (WRC) season got off to a magical start for Volkswagen Motorsport last weekend, as reigning champions Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia took victory at Rallye Monte Carlo. The opening round win was the second Monte triumph for the French pair in Polo R WRC chassis no 17, their 17th in the WRC, and their 10th with Volkswagen Motorsport.

It was good news for the other two Volkswagen Motorsport crews, too, with Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila finishing fifth in Polo R WRC chassis no 18, while Andreas Mikkelsen and Mikko Markkula took chassis no 15 to seventh place in the final classification.

Behind Ogier and Ingrassia (also fastest in the pre-event shakedown test ahead of the first day), Ford Fiesta driver Bryan Bouffier finished second, while Irishman Kris Meeke of Citroën filled the last place on the podium.

Rallye Monte Carlo didn’t start well, with Ogier and Ingrassia down in ninth place on the first day, due to ever-changing weather conditions. The onset of winter in the French Maritime Alps saw snow and heavy rain in the valleys.

Based on weather data available at the time, the Polo R WRC drivers opted for tread-free slicks for the first three stages, leaving them struggling for grip on the slippery surfaces.

It was then the fightback began. Posting top-three fastest times from stage five onwards, Ogier and Ingrassia then won seven special stages. By the mid-point of the event, they were back in the lead, passing Bouffier.

With the action moving to the legendary Col de Turini on day three, heavy snow and blizzard conditions meant that stage 14 had to be cancelled by the time the second loop was due to commence.

An overjoyed Ogier said: ‘What a perfect start to the season! The team did a fantastic job. It is an amazing feeling to win the Rally Monte Carlo in difficult conditions – especially now that the Monte is a round of the World Championship again.

‘Even more so when you consider the last three days: the fightback in extreme rain, and then the snow chaos on the Col de Turini. I really wanted to win my home rally here. I will celebrate the win appropriately – with my family, my girlfriend and the entire Volkswagen team.’

By the end of the second day, Latvala and Anttila had fought back from 18th to seventh place overall, rising further to sixth on day three, before suffering a puncture. But, the Finns didn’t relent and returned home fifth, making up three places and clocking up three fastest stage times in the process.

Mikkelsen’s first time in a WRC car on Rallye Monte Carlo was also duly rewarded, with the Norwegian scoring six championship points. The tenth stage saw him and Markkula slide slowly off the road, but due to some helpful spectators they continued and scored a series of top times on the final day.

Ogier and Latvala meanwhile took extra points on the Power Stage, scoring a Volkswagen Polo R WRC one-two. In the final reckoning, Ogier leads the 2014 championship with 27 points, while Latvala sits in fourth place.

Latvala was happy with his result. ‘I am really happy with fifth place. That was the goal we had set ourselves right from the word go. I have finally brought an end to my poor run at the Rally Monte Carlo.

‘The conditions out on the route were very, very difficult in places – as was the tyre selection, which we did not get right at the start. The stages in the mountains were hard work, but it was worth it. We scored important points. I am particularly pleased with the extra points from the Power Stage. We now head to Rally Sweden full of confidence.’

Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito praised his team: ‘I am very proud of the entire team today. Everyone did an outstanding job. Sébastien Ogier’s performance was worthy of a champion, while Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen were also magnificent.

‘Together with their engineers, and using the information available from the weather crews, they always made intelligent tyre selections – even if they did not always turn out to be perfect. But that is just typical of the “Monte”, which is always unpredictable.

‘To have all three Polo R WRCs in the points and to have won the iconic “Monte” for the first time as a team is an outstanding success.’

2014 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,
RALLYE MONTE CARLO: FINAL RESULTS


1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen: 3h 55m 14.4s

2 Bryan Bouffier/Xavier Panseri (F/F), Ford: +1m 18.9s

3 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL), Citroën: 1m 54.3s

4 Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S), Citroën: +3m 53.9s

5 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen: +6m 08.3s

2014 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS


1 Sébastien Ogier, 27
2 Bryan Bouffier, 18
3 Kris Meeke, 16
4 Jari-Matti Latvala, 13
5 Mads Østberg, 12

2014 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

MANUFACTURERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS


1 Volkswagen Motorsport, 37

2 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT, 33

3 M-Sport Ltd, 10

4 Volkswagen Motorsport II, 8

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