40th victory for the Volkswagen Polo R WRC, first match point in the Manufacturers’ Championship
Fourth win of the season for Ogier/Ingrassia, 36th of their career
Podium for third-placed Mikkelsen/Jæger, fourth place for Latvala/Anttila
A home win worth its weight in gold: Volkswagen duo Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) took a crucial step towards the title in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with the 36th win of their career. The three-time champions dominated the Rally France on Corsica from the word go, leaving runners-up Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B, Hyundai) and their Volkswagen team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N) to fight it out for the minor places. Ogier/Ingrassia won five of the ten special stages, including a clean sweep on day one of the rally. Their fourth victory of the season, the 40th in 49 rallies for the Polo R WRC, sees them extend their lead in the Driver and Co-Driver Championship to 68 points. Mikkelsen/Jæger and Neuville/Gilsoul are now their only remaining rivals in the title race. The third Volkswagen duo, Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), ended the Rally France into fourth place, but are no longer in contention for the title.
Early dominance followed by intelligence – a performance worthy of world champions
Victory on every stage on the opening day of the rally – Ogier/Ingrassia became the first men to achieve this feat since Volkswagen entered the fray at the 2013 Rally Monte Carlo. This also proved vital to their success: the three-time world champions kept a cool head to maintain their early lead right through to the finish – almost to the second. Conditions played a key role on Saturday and Sunday: rain and special stages that were dry in places and damp in others made tyre selection particularly tricky. Ogier/Ingrassia and their team-mates Mikkelsen/Jæger and Latvala/Anttila consistently chose the right mixture of the Michelin race tyres.
66 points clear – Volkswagen could win the Manufacturers’ World Championship at the next round of the WRC
Volkswagen also has its first match point in the battle for the Manufacturers’ Championship at the coming rally in Spain. To win the title there, the Wolfsburg-based carmaker must score 20 points more than its closest rival Hyundai. This would secure them their fourth back-to-back title in the most prestigious world championship in motorsports outside Formula 1. The two drivers nominated by a manufacturer – Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala at Volkswagen – can score a maximum 43 points.
Heading to the 50th rally on the back of the 40th win – Polo R WRC reaches further milestones
The coming Rally Spain marks the Polo R WRC’s 50th appearance in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). The Volkswagen team will travel to Catalonia full of the confidence that comes with 40 wins with the world rally car, and the works team from Wolfsburg has also picked up a total of 83 podium results. The Polo is the fourth model to enter the 40s club: the Lancia Delta and the Subaru Impreza (46 each) and the Ford Focus (44) are the only other models to have 40 wins or more to their name.
Of the 894 special stages since the Polo R WRC made its debut, 600 have been won by the Wolfsburg-based carmaker.
Quotes after day three of the Rally France
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“Unfortunately we didn’t manage to get any points from the Power Stage because I was a little bit too cautious in places. Overall we aren’t overly happy with our performance – but I only have myself to blame. In terms of set-up, we went in a direction that didn’t work. Now we are looking to the future, since we want to do much better at the Rally Spain and finish on the podium again there at least. Last year we were involved in a thrilling battle for second place with our team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, which we want to win this time.”
Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“40 wins for the Polo R WRC – that is a fantastic record for our team, and we will travel to Spain for the Polo R WRC’s 50th rally full of confidence, The Rally France in Corsica is a big challenge in many regards – it is full of corners, and the weather is temperamental and very hard to predict. This makes it all the better to be able to rely on a well-oiled team. I am proud of this achievement, as the Rally France was also my first as Motorsport Director. I could not have wished for a better ‘debut’. Congratulations to Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia – they dominated the rally on day one, and then did a perfect job of converting their advantage into victory.”
And then there was …
… the fifth special stage of the Rally France in Corsica. For the section with the most turns at the 2016 edition of the classic race, the pace notes of rally winners Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia documented 659 “real” turns alone, not counting slight changes of direction. The entire Rally France in Corsica, which is also known as the “Rally of 10,000 Corners”, had around 4,800 turns over 390.92 kilometres in 2016. Its nickname has historical reasons. The longest edition of the “Tour de Course” was held in 1982 with 1,176.10 kilometres of special stages. In those days, the rally in Corsica was the second-longest on the WRC calendar, after the Safari Rally. The same is true in 2016: only the Rally Mexico had more classified kilometres – 8.79 more to be precise.