18 September 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen wins Rally Australia; takes WRC titles for third consecutive year*

2015 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Australia: Volkswagen winners

In a triumphant and jubilant show of skill, Volkswagen Motorsport has once again taken the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) season titles. With a one-two finish in the red dust of Rally Australia, the victorious French pairing of Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia lifted the 2015 Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship crowns, while Volkswagen Motorsport took the manufacturers’ laurels, the third time in as many seasons.

Ogier and Ingrassia may have won the event and the 2015 title, but the second place of Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila meant they could help the Frenchmen celebrate, too. Citroën’s Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle spoilt the all-Volkswagen Australian podium party: a slightly disappointed Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene had to ‘settle;’ for fourth place.

Formidable Frenchmen
As in 2014, Volkswagen Motorsport has secured the trio of WRC titles with more 2015 rallies still to come. Ogier and Ingrassia have proved an almost unbeatable and formidable duo this season, and so great is their advantage in the overall standings that neither they or Volkswagen Motorsport can be caught in the remaining quarter of season. In total, Volkswagen drivers have won nine out of the 10 rallies so far in 2015.

Day three of Rally Australia saw Ogier and Ingrassia lead Meeke and Nagle by just two car lengths. With the 2015 titles in their grasp, the French pair extended the gap to 32.6 seconds. Latvala and Anttila then leap-frogged the Citroën pair to fall just 12.3 seconds behind Ogier and Ingrassia at the finish line. Mikkelsen and Fløene had kept Meeke and Nagle out off the podium places on the final day, but sadly incurred a late time check arrival penalty which added 10 seconds to their result.

It wasn’t all bad news for the Norwegians, though. The duo took third-place in the final test, the Power Stage, where they joined Ogier and Ingrassia as well as Latvala and Anttila in taking additional bonus points for Volkswagen. It was the 61st, 62nd and 63rd time in 30 Power Stages that the German manufacturer had picked up extra points.

‘A fantastic feeling’
Ogier, was, understandably excited with his and Ingrassia’s rather special victory: ‘It is a fantastic feeling to be world champion again! I am overjoyed. The first World Championship title will obviously always be rather special, but the emotions are always overwhelming every time. It was an incredibly intense battle here in Australia. Because the gap to Kris and Jari-Matti was so small all weekend, I had no time to even think about the title.

‘Even this morning I only had one approach: flat-out. I am now just really happy that Julien and I have won our third title with a victory. It will probably take a while for what we have achieved together with our fantastic team over the past three years to really sink in. The fact that we also won the manufacturers’ title with the Volkswagen team is obviously the icing on the cake,’ the jubilant Frenchman exclaimed.

‘A fantastic day’
A reflective Latvala was still pleased to have played his part in the team result: ‘Winning all three titles here make this a fantastic day for the Volkswagen team. I am really happy to have done my bit towards this great success. I tried everything again today and kept on pushing right to the final stage, even with a cracked windscreen.

‘Unfortunately we came up just short and I will have to settle for second place. On the other hand, I have extended my advantage over third place in the overall standings. Congratulations to my team-mate Sébastien Ogier. He deservedly won the rally and is also a deserved world champion,’ said the Finn, ever gracious in defeat.

‘Really good rally’
Mikkelsen meanwhile was happy with his result: ‘I am totally happy with our performance and had a really good rally. We did our very best right from the word go – in the end we had to “settle” for fourth place. Based on the actual driving alone, we could even have finished third, as we more than made up the 8.8 seconds we trailed Kris Meeke by coming into the final 70 kilometres or so.

‘However, we were handed a ten-second penalty for checking in too late ahead of the midday service on Sunday. That was too much for us to make up, although we had a really good attempt. It is a shame that we ultimately missed out on our seventh podium of the season by just 5.9 seconds – but we have strengthened our grip on third place in the World Championship,’ said the young Norwegian.

‘A dream result and great achievement’
As usual, Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito was full of praise for his winning squad: ‘What a fantastic rally. What a dream result. And what a great achievement to have wrapped up all three titles so early in the season.

‘The Volkswagen team excelled itself today. Our drivers and co-drivers had to pull out all the stops in order to finish on the podium here in Australia. Like the team behind them, they did a flawless job. You cannot be more proud of the entire team than I am today.

‘It is always more difficult to defend a title than it is to win it for the first time. Defending it for a second time is an even greater challenge. The fact that our mechanics, engineers, drivers, co-drivers, physios and doctors, and chefs have once again achieved superlative results and secured the WRC titles earlier in the season than ever before shows what an extraordinary team we have,’ said the ecstatic motorsport principal.

Most successful WRC car
The Australian result meant that Volkswagen once again made rallying history: no other manufacturer has ever managed to wrap up all three World Rally Championship titles so early in the season. Only four manufacturers – Citroën, Lancia, Peugeot and Subaru – had managed to win the WRC manufacturers’ title three consecutive times, so Volkswagen joins an elite group in rallying folklore.

The Polo R WRC meanwhile has claimed 19 podium finishes so far in 2015, and therefore, since 2013, remains undefeated as the four-wheel drive rally car to beat. The second-generation motorsport model of the four-wheeled rallying wonder from Wolfsburg has continued the story started by its predecessor on its debut in 2013, and its follow-up last year. With an 86 per cent win rate (31 victories from 36 rallies), the Polo R WRC is also the most successful car in WRC history.

Fresh from the team’s success at Rally Germany, we at PoloDriver.com would like to extend our warmest congratulations to the whole of the Volkswagen Motorsport WRC squad on a fantastic performance in 2015 and wish it all the best for the remainder of the season.

Rally France, round 11 of the 2015 World Rally Championship, runs from 1-4 October.

2015 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

RALLY AUSTRALIA FINAL RESULTS

1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen: 2h 59m 16.4s
2 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen: + 12.3s
3 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL), Citroën: + 32.6s
4 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), Volkswagen: + 38.5s
5 Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai: + 55.1s

2015 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS


1 Sébastien Ogier, 235
2 Jari-Matti Latvala, 134
3 Andreas Mikkelsen, 114
4 Mads Østberg, 90
5 Thierry Neuville, 86

2015 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

MANUFACTURERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS


1 Volkswagen Motorsport, 343
2 Hyundai Motorsport, 177
3 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT, 164
4 M-Sport, 148
5 Volkswagen Motorsport II, 76

*Subject to confirmation by the FIA.

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