Monday, 2 February 2015

One-two-three! Volkswagen makes history at the Monte Carlo Rally

Volkswagen started the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with an historic success. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) claimed a one-two-three for the Polo R WRC at the most iconic rally in the world.  This makes Volkswagen only the fifth manufacturer ever to have achieved this feat at the “Monte”.
“A one-two-three at the Rally Monte Carlo is a fantastic performance from the entire Volkswagen team, and I am very proud of our crew,” said Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neußer, Volkswagen Board Member for Technical Development. “To start the season in this manner with a new car, and in such difficult conditions, far exceeds our expectations.  The entire troop worked in perfect harmony. Everyone was there for each other, everyone knew exactly what he or she had to do, and Volkswagen ultimately deserved to win.  This team is now deservedly up there with the other big rally manufacturers.”

Dream debut for the second generation Polo R WRC

The 2015 Rally Monte Carlo marked the first competitive outing for the new Polo R WRC, and promptly became a success story.  Ogier/Ingrassia and Latvala/Anttila were in the cockpit of the second generation of the World Rally Car from Wolfsburg at the “Monte”, while Mikkelsen/Fløene will remain in the successful predecessor to the new car until the Rally Portugal.  The four-wheel drive powerhouse, which now generates an impressive 318 hp, made a perfect debut: the new Polo R WRC finished first and second to outdo even the first outing of the 2013 and 2014 Polo for the World Rally Championship.

Historic: Volkswagen joins elite group of rally legends

The one-two-three at the 2015 Rally Monte Carlo was Volkswagen’s 23rd victory with the Polo R WRC and the eleventh time the manufacturer has had more than one car on the podium since it joined the series in 2013.  Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia climbed onto the top step of the podium for the 25th time at the Rally Monte Carlo, and for the second year in a row at the “Monte”.  This sees Ogier pull level with rally legend Colin McRae in the all-time list of WRC wins.  First, second and third at the 2015 “Monte” was also a historic one-two-three at the iconic rally – and only the sixth ever.  Volkswagen became only the fifth manufacturer since 1973 to record a “triple” in the “Monte” history books, and thus joins the ranks of such legendary rally manufacturers as Renault-Alpine, Lancia, Audi and Citroën.

Typical “Monte” – Tyre gambles and diverse conditions

Dry asphalt with – by “Monte” standards – plenty of grip, black ice, snow and slush: the teams at the 2015 Rally Monte Carlo were faced with all of the above.  And the conditions changed constantly from one kilometre to the next, making tyre selection particularly tricky.  Each crew had to select 30 Michelin competition tyres from the 82 at their disposal – eight hard, 16 soft, 24 soft, ten winter tyres and 24 studded tyres.

Seb vs Seb – a thrilling duel, but over far too soon

For the first two days of the Rally Monte Carlo, fans were kept on the edge of their seats by the duel raging between the two Sebs. Sébastien Ogier in the Polo R WRC and Sébastien Loeb in a Citroën were embroiled in a thrilling battle for the lead.  Ogier had moved into an eight-second lead at the halfway point of the rally when Loeb, making his WRC comeback, lost a huge amount of time and dropped well down the overall standings.  And so the prestigious duel was curtailed, just as it was getting really interesting.  No longer was the nine-time world champion the number one threat to Sébastien Ogier, but his team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen.

Personal bests – Latvala and Mikkelsen make dream starts to the new WRC season

Second place for Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila and third for Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene were their best results to date at the Rally Monte Carlo.  As such, they were also an improvement on last year. Twelve months ago, Latvala/Anttila came home fifth and Mikkelsen, with his co-driver at the time Mikko Markkula (FIN), seventh to finish the “Monte” for the first time.  Latvala/Anttila moved into second place on the seventh special stage, and held onto the runner-up spot right through to the end of a rally held in typically difficult “Monte” conditions. Mikkelsen/Fløene also climbed into third place on the very same stage.

500 special stages – an exceptional record

The closing Power Stage at the Rally Monte Carlo formed the 500th special stage for the Volkswagen Polo R WRC in the World Rally Championship since its debut at the 2013 “Monte”.  Since then, the World Rally Car from Wolfsburg has established itself as the car with the highest win ratio ever in the World Rally Championship.  Not only have 85.2 per cent of all possible victories gone to Wolfsburg, but Volkswagen has also won 347 of its 500 special stages.

The icing on the cake: Power Stage yields bonus point for Jari-Matti Latvala

Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila enjoyed an almost perfect end to the Rally Monte Carlo.  They clocked the third fastest time on the closing Power Stage.  With bonus points on offer to the fastest three cars, the Finnish duo picked up another valuable point towards the World Championship.
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