20 November 2013 ~ 0 Comments

A perfect end to a perfect season – Volkswagen one-two at Wales Rally GB

2013 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Great Britain: Ogier/Ingrassia

Volkswagen Motorsport celebrated the perfect end to a perfect World Rally Championship (WRC) season at Wales Rally GB from 14-17 November. The last round of the 2013 series saw Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia victors once more, their tenth win from 13 rounds. Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila followed the Frenchmen on the podium, while the third Polo R WRC crew, Andreas Mikkelsen and Mikko Markkula came in fifth. The three-Polo team achieved the best team result of the season so far, winning 16 of the 22 special stages and claiming 41 of a possible 66 top-three spots. It rounded off a perfect debut season for the German manufacturer, with Ogier and Ingrassia having been crowned World Champions* in the driver and co-driver category at Rally France. Volkswagen Motorsport also won the manufacturers’ title in Spain with help from Latvala and Antitila.

The Rally GB result was Volkswagen’s best since entering the championship at the start of the year. Ogier and Ingrassia came out in top on nine stages, while Latvala and Anttila triumphed five times. Mikkelsen and Markkula meanwhile took two stage wins. Rally GB outs tough demands on both man and machine, and the mechanics were only allowed to service the cars each morning and after the final stage in the evening. Mud, deep water crossings and the notoriously tricky Welsh forests made the stages live up to their fearsome reputation, with 10 of the 22 specials making their return. Only two stages – ‘Chirk Castle’ and ‘Great Orme’ – were held on asphalt.

It really was a fairy-tale debut season for Volkswagen Motorsport. The 315bhp four-wheel drive Polo R WRC was in development for a year, and officially unveiled in 2013 trim in December 2012 in Monaco. Volkswagen Motorsport scored victories in Sweden, Mexico, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Finland, Australia, France, Spain and Great Britain – not bad for a team which had only predicted podiums at the start of the season! In Wales, Ogier clocked the fastest qualifying time, with Latvala and Mikkelsen fourth and ninth quickest respectively. After the dark opening stages on Thursday night, Ogier led the event, with Latvala in third place. Mikkelsen and co-driver Markkula were three places further down the field in sixth position.

Day two saw the Polo R WRCs win seven out of nine ‘typically Welsh’ special stages, with a brace of small VWs out in front. Ogier and Ingrassia remained as leaders of the pack, extending their lead in the process. Latvala and Anttila were right behind the French pair, just over 20 seconds adrift. Meanwhile Mikkselsen and Markkula held onto their sixth position, as they jumped, splashed and skid around the ‘Hafren’, ‘Sweet Lamb’, and ‘Myherin’ stages. At the close of day three, the positions remained little changed. Ogier was still out in front, with Latvala chasing his tyre tracks, while Mikkelsen hopped two places up the leaderboard to fourth. The Norwegian driver also scored his first Welsh stage win on ‘Gartheiniog’, and then immediately took another on ‘Dyfi’.

Ogier was ecstatic about the perfect end to his perfect season, thanking his support team: ‘I am very happy, and extremely proud of this win, as the Rally Wales is one of the toughest on the calendar. Things have not always gone to plan here for me. Now that the season is over, I can look back on what has really been an incredible year. I thanked the team in France, but I simply cannot say thank you often enough: the team did a fantastic job in our debut year. They made this fantastic success possible by providing a magnificent car.’

Latvala meanwhile was happy with his result, but reaslised he had made mistakes. ‘Second place at the final round of the season is a decent result, but I had hoped for more’. Our pace was okay, but unfortunately I made too many small mistakes to put Sébastien Ogier under any real pressure. I was really hungry to win this rally for a third time in a row, but Séb produced a perfect performance. Looking back on my first season with Volkswagen, it has definitely been a rollercoaster ride, but I now feel right home in the Polo R WRC.’

Mikkelsen, who’s car was strikingly decorated with the faces of 3999 Facebook fans, had also hoped for more: ‘All in all I am happy with the Rally Great Britain. However, I was obviously hoping for more after the good day yesterday. Having fought my way into fourth place yesterday, I tried to apply as much pressure from the word go today. But then the errors started to creep in and I spun twice. Fifth place is definitely not a bad result in the World Rally Championship, but we missed an opportunity here. Still, we can take a lot of positive things from our season. I am already looking forward to 2014, when we will show what we are capable of.’

Final word came from Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director. ‘You could hardly wish for a better end to what has been a fantastic WRC season for us. A one-two, with all three drivers in the top five – the Rally Great Britain was our most successful rally of the season. We witnessed a magnificent duel between Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala. And a very mature and quick Andreas Mikkelsen, who was challenging for a spot on the podium. Unfortunately it was not to be for him. We have high hopes for all three Volkswagen drivers in the 2014 season. I am also very proud of our entire team. Although we had less opportunities than usual to service the cars this weekend, the work was not only well-oiled, but also free from any blemish and completely beyond reproach. We did not have a single technical problem in Wales. We have not suffered one engine failure during the 2013 season, nor have we lost a single chassis as a result of a crash. That is extraordinary.’

The 2014 World Rally Championship kicks off from 14 to 19 January with the Rally Monte Carlo. Until then, the Polo R WRCs will undergo pre-event testing along with the drivers, on a mix of asphalt, ice, and snow surfaces. The Volkswagen Motorsport mechanics will also start to assemble the cars in Rally Monte Carlo configuration this week, ready for the first challenge of the new season. It’s been genuinely exciting to watch the championship unfold, and to see the Polo do so well in top-flight motorsport. We’re very excited for the second chapter in Volkswagen Motorsport’s WRC campaign and look forward to to what the 2014 season holds.

2013 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP, GREAT BRITAIN: FINAL RESULTS

1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen: 3h 03m 36.7s

2 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miika Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen: +21.8s
3 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Ford: +1m 24.5s

4 Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S), Ford: +1m 48.2s

5 Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula (N/FIN), Volkswagen: +2m 03.4s

2013 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,
DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS*


1 Sébastien Ogier, 290

2 Thierry Neuville, 176

3 Jari-Matti Latvala, 162

4 Mikko Hirvonen, 126

5 Dani Sordo, 125

2013 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,
MANUFACTURERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS*


1 Volkswagen Motorsport, 425

2 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT, 280

3 Qatar M-Sport WRT, 190

4 Qatar WRT, 118

5 Jipocar Czech National Team, 65

*Subject to confirmation by the FIA

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