One-two-three for Ogier, Latvala and Mikkelsen at the Rally Germany
Fastest without fail – Volkswagen drivers win eight out of eight stages
Wolfsburg (21 August 2015). Unbeaten on all eight special stages – Volkswagen enjoyed a perfect opening day at its home round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). All eight stage wins on day one of the Rally Germany went to drivers at the wheel of a Polo R WRC, as did all but one top-three positions. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN/FIN) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) occupy the top three positions after one third of round nine of the season and, with two days remaining, hold a comfortable advantage over the rest of the field. However, the action on the demanding vineyard stages around Trier was far from drab: for vast stretches there was nothing in it between Ogier and Latvala, as they battled it out for the lead. At one point, the two Volkswagen drivers were separated by just one tenth of a second – literally a blink of an eye. After 136.30 of 374.43 kilometres against the clock, and an afternoon surge from world champion Ogier, just 9.5 seconds separate the top two in the World Championship. Andreas Mikkelsen trails the leading duo by just 25.4 seconds, but is sitting pretty in third place, over half a minute ahead of his closest rival.
Having successfully negotiated the opening leg, another two tough days of rallying await the teams and drivers: on Saturday they had to the Baumholder military training ground, where they take on the legendary “Panzerplatte” five times. Day two has a very different character to Friday. Today’s vineyard stages are followed by special stages lined by the notorious “Hinkelsteins” – massive rocks originally intended to stop tanks in their tracks. The drivers and co-drivers cannot afford to make a single mistake as they slalom through these immovable obstacles if they wish to keep alive their hopes of a podium finish.
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“Overall we are pleased with the day. However, it was very difficult to get the right feeling for braking. I managed it well in the morning, which meant we were fast. I didn’t want to continue taking too many risks in the afternoon – with the track getting dirtier and dirtier. Unfortunately this meant that I lost a little more than nine seconds to my team-mate Sébastien Ogier. However, second place is a good result at the end of the day and we still have a few special stages to go. And we saw just how quickly things can change here last year. Now I am looking forward to Panzerplatte in particular.”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“We have had promising starts to the Rally Germany for the past two years – but today surpassed any of those. To take every top-three result but one and to win every single stage is almost unbelievable. It shows how seriously we are taking our mission to win on home soil. The team has left nothing to chance and is working perfectly together. However, the greatest praise is reserved for our drivers and co-drivers today: it doesn’t get any better than that – and that goes for Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen, as well as Julien Ingrassia, Miikka Anttila and Ola Fløene. We have taken the first step towards success at the Rally Germany. However, we are well aware that we have another two tough days ahead of us, on which we will have to maintain full concentration – from drivers to mechanics, co-drivers to engineers. We will definitely not let up.”
And then there was …
… a lot of “Sisu” and a bit of superstition. This season, it has become something of a tradition for the rear of the three Polo R WRCs to bear a new message at each rally. Not so for Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila, however. Following their victory at the Rally Finland, Latvala, Anttila and engineer Fabrice van Ertvelde insisted on keeping the “#SiSu” that was emblazoned across the rear spoiler when they clinched their second home win in a row. As such, the Finnish word, which can be translated as “strength”, “stamina”, “determination” and “fighting spirit”, is making its second appearance on the number 2 World Rally Car in Germany. Incidentally, there was little resistance from within the team: after all, why change something that worked so successfully at the team’s first home race?