Latvala/Anttila second, Ogier/Ingrassia third at the Rally Italy on Sardinia
Volkswagen significantly extends lead in all WRC competitions
Rally Italy a real challenge for man and machine, with heat, dust and brutal routes
Successful weekend for Volkswagen at the Rally Italy: Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) and Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) finished second and third to claim a double podium for Volkswagen. This represents a huge move in the race for the titles in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC): Volkswagen significantly extended its lead in both the Driver/Co-Drivers’ Championship and the Manufacturers’ Championship with the Polo R WRC. Victory went to Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B, Hyundai), who were involved in a thrilling battle for the lead with Latvala/Anttila.
Ogier/Ingrassia who, as world championship leaders were forced by the regulations to open the route and were consequently unable to avoid losing too much time on the opening two days, played no role in the race for the “gold medal” on the Smaragd coast. However, they were rewarded for an impressive, battling performance with another podium result and will feel they got the maximum out of the rally. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N) in the third Polo R WRC suffered a set-back: they hit a stone on the racing line whilst flat-out on Friday, and were subsequently forced to retire with a broken suspension and abandon any hope of picking up valuable points.
64 points for Ogier/Ingrassia, 70 for Volkswagen – the lead in the WRC grows significantly
As far as the battle to defend the titles in the Driver, Co-Driver and Manufacturer Championships is concerned, Volkswagen took a big step forward at the Rally Italy. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia stretched their lead to 64 points, while Volkswagen increased its lead over closest rival Hyundai from 49 to 70 points. A maximum 28 points per rally are up for grabs in the Driver/Co-Driver’s Championship, while a maximum 43 can be scored in the Manufacturers’ Championship.
Heat, dust and brutal routes – man and machine put through their paces
The Rally Italy on Sardinia is traditionally one of the gravel rallies on the WRC calendar that are particularly tough on man and machine. The 2016 rally was to be no exception: temperatures around 30 degrees and a whole lot of dust made life difficult for the drivers and co-drivers. Brutal routes, deep ruts, and boulders torn out of the road surface itself pose an extreme test for the World Rally Cars.
45 rallies, 78 podiums, including 37 wins – Polo remains the most successful rally car
37 victories and only eight winless rallies – despite three rallies in a row without a win, the Polo R WRC remains by far the most successful car in the history of the World Rally Championship. The win rate of 82.22 per cent is unrivalled. Volkswagen duos have made it onto the podium with the World Rally Car from Wolfsburg on 78 occasions since the 2013 Rally Monte Carlo, including at the last 15 rallies in a row. At least one of the driver/co-driver pairings has featured on the podium at 43 of the 45 rallies.
A Herculean task: Ogier/Ingrassia open almost 90 per cent of the route
A struggle to master the loose gravel for 282 of 325 kilometres: as world championship leaders, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were once again burdened with the task of opening the route for two full days at the Rally Italy. This regulation made it impossible for the three-time world champions to challenge for the win without others slipping up, despite being in the most successful car in WRC history. Ogier/Ingrassia swept the roads clear for those behind them for exactly 87.04 per cent of the total distance. The disadvantage suffered on the first two days equated to one tenth of a second per kilometre and per car on the route.
Latvala/Anttila finish runner-up to close the gap and re-join the race for the title in the World Rally Championship
The World Rally Championship is set for an exciting battle for second place in the Driver/Co-Drivers’ championship over the next few rallies – and Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila are right in the mix. Second place at the Rally Italy saw them close the gap to their rivals. Five duos are within twelve points of each other in positions two to six in the overall standings.
Same old story on the Power Stage – Volkswagen picks up four bonus points
Success number 30 on the Power Stage: Sébastien Ogier remains the “Master of Faster” on the final special stage of a rally, on which bonus points are up for grabs for the three fastest duos. And that despite the three-time world champion sliding a little wide in a hairpin. The 70th Power Stage in the history of the World Rally Championship saw Volkswagen set the fastest time for the 36th time. The manufacturer has now scored extra points 81 times. Volkswagen has now amassed 175 points on the Power Stage alone.
Quotes after day three of the Rally Italy
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“A successful weekend for us. As a team, we were able to stretch our lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship. We would obviously have liked to be stood on the top step of the podium, but, after my disappointing performance here in recent years, second place is a great success. Plus, we closed the gap to the front-runners in the Drivers’ Championship. Congratulations to Thierry Neuville. He did a great job all weekend and deserved to win. We will push hard again in Poland!”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“Volkswagen significantly extended its lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship and took an important step towards defending its titles. As such, we can be very happy with the Rally Italy. Congratulations to Hyundai and Thierry Neuville, who produced a great performance and were better than us this time. Jari-Matti Latvala bounced back with second place – respect. Sébastien Ogier got the absolute maximum from his starting position. As first onto the route on this extremely loose gravel on Sardinia, he simply had no chance to compete for the win with those starting later on. Despite this, his performance was outstanding – even if the result does not quite reflect it. Andreas Mikkelsen was unlucky this time and, despite a good performance, was denied a possible podium finish. I think this will make him even more of a force to be reckoned with at the coming rally in Poland.”
And then there was …
… the selfie of the weekend. Volkswagen used its Twitter channel @volkswagenrally to ask fans to send in their selfies from the Rally Italy. However, the prize for probably the most surprising and best photo went to Thierry Neuville and Jari-Matti Latvala, who submitted a picture of themselves in front of the great crowd at an evening press conference. Hyundai and Volkswagen drivers, winner and runner-up together in one photo after a fierce battle out on the route – typical World Rally Championship.