Volkswagen bids farewell to the World Rally Championship as champions with win number 43
A force down under: Mikkelsen claims third WRC win after battle with Ogier
The story of Volkswagen in the WRC ended with an exclamation mark: Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N) gave the most successful car in the history of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) a worthy send-off with another win at the Rally Australia. Victory in the Polo R WRC’s 52nd rally was both spectacular and hard-fought – and featured a close battle with Volkswagen team-mates Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), who celebrated four titles in the Driver’s and Co-Drivers’ Championship with the world rally car from Wolfsburg. The French pair also won the Manufacturers’ Championship four times with fellow Volkswagen duo Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN). The final hurrah down under developed into a real thriller, in which Mikkelsen/Jæger held his nerve to come out on top thanks to a magnificent performance. After four years at the top of the pinnacle of rallying, Volkswagen bids farewell to the most prestigious automobile world championship outside Formula 1 with an impressive record.
The best rally car ever made – the Polo R WRC
958 special stages, 640 stage wins. 52 rallies, 87 podium finishes, including 43 victories. 51 Power Stages, bonus points on 92 occasions. As far as the success rate is concerned, the Volkswagen Polo R WRC is by far the most successful WRC car ever. Between the moment that Jari-Matti Latvala set off on the world rally car from Wolfsburg’s first special stage – at 09:07 on 16 January 2013 – and Andreas Mikkelsen crossing the finish line for the final time in the Polo R WRC at 13:47 and 51 seconds local time, the Volkswagen drivers have completed 48,723.52 kilometres of special stage. That is almost exactly three times the distance between Ikarusallee 7a in Hannover and the Volkswagen service area in Coffs Harbour. There is a strong team behind this success: as well as the team at the rallies and the 200 employees in Hannover, the technical development department in Wolfsburg and the partners of Volkswagen Motorsport have also contributed to the historic success.
Milestone, not melancholy: hard-earned victory for Mikkelsen after battle with Ogier
Extreme dust, the task of sweeping clear a thick layer of loose gravel, and the intelligent management of the race tyres – the crews at the 2016 Rally Australia faced a wide range of challenges. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger led the field of world rally cars for 94.1 per cent of the 283.36 kilometres against the clock. Their duel with four-time world champions* Ogier/Ingrassia was one of the finest seen in rallying in recent years. What made it all the more remarkable was the fact that neither of the two Volkswagen duos had favourable starting positions.
One goal achieved, one narrowly missed – Mikkelsen/Jæger finish third in the world championship
Victory in the final rally of the year saw Mikkelsen/Jæger do all they could to finish second in the World Rally Championship. However, their rivals for the runner-up spot, Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B, Hyundai), were in no mood to give up second place. The Belgians claimed the third spot on the podium behind Mikkelsen/Jæger and Ogier/Ingrassia. Mikkelsen/Jæger did finish third in the Manufacturers’ Championship – as the best one-car team in the World Rally Championship.
Latvala/Anttila in the points at the final round of the season
Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) in the third Polo R WRC were denied a happy ending at the final rally of the year. They damaged their suspension when they brushed a barrier on a bridge at the very start of the rally. Despite losing over seven minutes, last year’s runners-up in the World Rally Championship fought their way back into the points and ended the Rally Australia in ninth place.
Quotes after day three of the Rally Australia
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I enjoyed the final few kilometres in the Polo R WRC on today’s Power Stage. We had some good special stages today and yesterday, and made good progress through the field. We can be happy with our performance over the past few days. Unfortunately, we made light contact with a wall on a bridge on the opening stage, and destroyed the rear suspension in the process. We lost a lot of time as a result, and had no chance of challenging for either the podium or the win. I would have liked to have done that – primarily to give our team a fitting leaving present. Our team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen and Sébastien Ogier claimed a deserved one-two. Congratulations to them both. We will celebrate as a team again this evening, before our time together in the World Rally Championship comes to an end. It is sure to be very emotional.”
Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“Today is a very successful day for Volkswagen on the one hand, and an emotional goodbye to the world rally championship on the other. To bid farewell with a one-two is simply fantastic. Despite the difficult situation, the entire team gave their all and was thoroughly professional right down to the final metre. I am incredibly proud of our performance here at the Rally Australia – and over the past few years. I would like to thank everyone in Hannover, Wolfsburg and at the rallies, as well as our partners, who have all contributed to our success. We have achieved a lot and head into our future in motorsport full of confidence.”