02 February 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Ogier off, Abbring victory: mixed Rally Monte Carlo fortunes for VW Motorsport

It was a mixed start to the 2012 WRC season for the Volkswagen Motorsport team at the 2012 Rallye Monte Carlo from 18-22 January. After a storming start, new factory drivers Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassa suffered a spectacular accident on the 10th special stage, the biggest of Ogier’s career. The pairing’s Škoda S2000 left the rally course at 160kph, and miraculously neither were badly injured. Luckier with the younger team of driver Kevin Abbring and Lara Vanneste, Volkswagen Motorsport claimed a 12th place finish overall and top-of the-S2000 class title. Abbring isn’t registered in the Super 2000 World Rally Championship, though, so the points went to Irishman Craig Breen. The full Volkswagen Motorsport press release follows.

Ogier impresses the fans despite accident on the ‘Monte’
Wolfsburg, 22 January 2012

Sébastien Ogier (28) and co-driver Julien Ingrassia (32) made a storming start to their first rally event for Volkswagen, the 80th Rally Monte Carlo, before they retired on the tenth special stage following a spectacular accident. After a precautionary check at the ‘Centre Hospitalier de Valence’ the two were able to leave the hospital on Thursday evening. After the final stage on Friday afternoon the rally armada will move from Valence to Monaco where it will be stationed up to the finish on Sunday.

The Škoda S2000 left the track at a speed of 160kph on the 21.66 kilometre special stage from Lamastre via Gilhoc to Alboussière. For Ogier and Ingrassia the accident rather unluckily meant an early end to the legendary rally classic. Beforehand the two had put in an impressive display in their less powerful S2000 Škoda against the WRC cars. Together with his co-driver the new Volkswagen factory driver even held fourth position on occasion in the overall standings.

‘That was the biggest accident of my career. We were lucky that it wasn’t worse,’ explained Ogier after the accident. ‘I really felt at home in the car. Our speed was very good. The difficult conditions were perfect for us, as we could almost keep pace with the WRC category.’ Co-driver Ingrassia added: ‘We tried to cut the corner slightly at the point, the car was launched upwards as a result and at such a high speed we had no chance of keeping the car under control. I bruised my arm slightly on the impact, but luckily nothing appears to be broken.’

‘To begin with, we are extremely happy that Sébastien and Julien are in good health,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. ‘Obviously it’s a great shame that the two will be unable to celebrate reaching the finish in Monaco, especially as Sébastien had driven incredibly well up to that point. His speed was amazing on the opening stages. This proves that we have signed in Ogier a driver with great potential. We look forward to the other rallies with these two.’

Volkswagen celebrates class victory in the Rally Monte Carlo
Wolfsburg, 22 January 2012

Volkswagen Junior Kevin Abbring (23) and his co-driver Lara Vanneste (21) produced a fantastic performance on their way to taking victory in the S2000 class for Volkswagen in the 80th Rally Monte Carlo. The rally classic in the principality on the Cote d’Azur is part of the FIA World Championship for the first time since 2008.

Kevin Abbring and Lara Vanneste were awarded the winner’s trophy in the square overshadowed by the Royal Palace in Monaco after a total of 1772 kilometres and 18 demanding special stages, which included the infamous run to Col de Turini. For the young Dutchman and his Belgian co-driver it is the second S2000 class victory after taking the spoils at the Rally Great Britain in November 2011.

At the same time, Abbring, who celebrated his 23rd birthday in the cockpit on Friday, gave himself his favourite present. ‘I’m delighted. To win the “Monte” is simply an indescribable feeling. Lara and I are very proud,’ beamed Abbring during the victory ceremony at the Royal Palace. ‘We improved from stage to stage and implemented the team’s instructions. My heartfelt thanks to the entire Volkswagen team for the support, we worked perfectly together.’

‘A big complement to our driver teams and the entire team because in rallying a win is always a win for the complete team,’ emphasised a satisfied Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen (51). ‘Kevin put in a fantastic performance, we are proud of him and his co-driver Lara. He impressively demonstrated what a huge talent he is and why we support him as Volkswagen Junior.’

New Volkswagen factory driver Sébastien Ogier (28) and co-driver Julien Ingrassia (32) had already attracted a great deal of attention beforehand. The two Frenchmen held fourth place overall on occasion in the less powerful S2000 car – before an accident meant an early end for the two. Nissen: ‘Sébastiens Speed was incredible on the opening stages. This proves that we have signed a driver with great potential. I’m convinced that he’ll be good for one or the other big surprise during the World Championship rallies this year.’

The Frenchman also looks forward optimistically to his next outing during the Rally Sweden (9 to 12 February). ‘I feel very comfortable on the car and team. We were extremely competitive before the accident,’ said Ogier, who was third in the WRC in 2011. ‘The difficult conditions at the start of the rally were an advantage for us because the difference in power between the Fabia S2000 and the WRC class didn’t have such a big effect. We aim to maintain our pace in Sweden and I’m confident that we will also be fast there.’

In 2012 Volkswagen contests rounds of the World Rally Championship with two Fabia S2000 cars from the group brand Škoda. The rallies act as preparation for the 2013 season in which Volkswagen will compete with the Polo R WRC in rallying’s top-flight.

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