Volkswagen WRC Team makes it ‘High Five’ at Rally Italy

At the halfway point of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Volkswagen dominates the proceedings with its fifth win in seven rallies. The Volkswagen team has also comfortably extended its lead in this, the most prestigious motorsport world championship after Formula 1. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) won the rally in Sardinia in their Polo R WRC with a lead of 1m 16.8s over their closest competitor, Thierry Neuville (Ford).

The two Frenchmen have therefore extended their lead in the driver/co-driver rankings to 64 points. Their Volkswagen team colleagues Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) demonstrated an impressive final spurt to likewise make it onto the podium, finishing in third place, in spite of having dropped back to twelfth place due to a flat tyre during the first stage. This puts the two Finns in second place in the driver/co-driver world championship rankings. They also played a major part in enabling Volkswagen’s 315 hp four-wheel drives to further extend the car make’s lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship.VW-WRC-on-way-to-win-in-Rally-Italy

Andreas Mikkelsen, who celebrated his 24th birthday on the Saturday of the rally in Sardinia, again missed out on a good result together with his co-driver Mikko Markkula (N/FIN) – on the third from last stage of the rally, they were instructed by the team to take all available risks in order to secure fourth place overall, but a slip-up then cost them this ranking. Mikkelsen/Markkula veered off the track on a slow corner and caused only light damage to the suspension – but then had to retire from the rally early.

Volkswagen put on a strong team performance in the seventh of 13 events in the WRC season, in front of Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, the member of the Board of Management for the Volkswagen brand who is responsible for development. “It was a great success for the whole of the team and being there to see it was a fantastic experience,” said Dr Hackenberg. “This was actually my last rally as the head of development at Volkswagen, but I will no doubt visit a few more rallies some time. I have put a lot of heart and soul into this project and that doesn’t simply evaporate when you move to pastures new.”

The driver factor: outstanding performances from Ogier and Latvala
Thirteen fastest times in 16 special stages, seven of which were scored by Sébastien Ogier and six by Jari-Matti Latvala – once again, Volkswagen was able to put its faith in strong drivers in Rally Italy. One of them was in the lead right from the start, while the other one compellingly continued to gain ground – Ogier and Latvala acclimatised perfectly to the tough conditions in Sardinia. Consistency and speed were also the order of the day, with the overall leader Ogier dominating the front position in the WRC pack from the very first stage on Friday and refusing to forfeit it all the way to the finishing line on Saturday.

The key to the 29-year-old Frenchman’s fourth win of the season was his clever driving style that went easy on his tyres, which placed him among the top three drivers no less than 14 times in the 16 special stages. His team colleague Jari-Matti Latvala was absolutely on a par with him, himself achieving 14 recorded times that were among the top three. Incidentally, even with his damaged tyre, which cost him 1m 56.4s, Latvala was still only 1m 48.0s behind Ogier after driving 304.50 timed kilometres.
FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Rally Italy – final results

1. Sébastien Ogier/Julian Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen 3h 22m 57.9s
2. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Ford + 1m 16.8s
3. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen + 1m 48.0s
4. Daniel Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (E/E), Citroën + 3m 19.2s
5. Martin Prokop/Michal Ernst (CZ/CZ), Ford + 8m 34.1s
6. Elfyn Evans/Giovanni Bernacchini (GB/I), Ford + 11m 51.8s
7. Michal Kościuszko/Maciej Szczepaniak (PL/PL), Ford + 11m 52.7s
8. Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S), Ford + 13m 21.5s
9. Robert Kubica/Maciek Baran (PL/PL), Citroën + 16m 47.6s
10. Khalid Al Qassimi/Martin Scott (UAE/GB), Citroën + 17m 19.9s
FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), standings*

Drivers’ Championship

1. Sébastien Ogier, 154 points; 2. Jari-Matti Latvala, 90; 3. Thierry Neuville, 70; 4. Sébastien Loeb, 68; 5. Mikko Hirvonen, 61; 6. Daniel Sordo, 59; 7. Mads Østberg, 50; 8. Martin Prokop, 37; 9. Evgeny Novikov, 31; 10. Nasser Al-Attiyah, 30; 11. Andreas Mikkelsen, 25.

Manufacturers’ Championship

1. Volkswagen Motorsport, 220 points, 2. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT, 174; 3. Qatar WRT, 89; 4. Qatar M-Sport WRT, 89; 5. Jipocar Czech National Team, 39; 6. Abu Dhabi Citroën Total WRT, 33; 7. Volkswagen Motorsport II, 26; 8. Lotos WRC Team, 20.

* Provisional.