The Volkswagen Polo R WRC may have a new look but it’s still the dominant force in world rallying as the team’s record-breaking clean sweep of the podium at the Rallye Monte Carlo proved.
Sebastien Ogier again showed he will be the man to beat in 2015, taking victory by almost one minute ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala. While Andreas Mikkelsen finished third to make it a perfect result for Volkswagen.
In his one-off appearance for Citroën nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb showed the world he still has blistering pace. Loeb set the scene by going fastest on the opening stage and taking the lead of the rally. He stayed there until SS7 when Ogier fought his way in front.
Loeb’s chances of victory ended after he hit a rock on SS8, which forced him out for the day. He rejoined under Rally 2 regs and fought back to finish eighth overall. The French maestro also won more special stages than any driver during the event.
Mads Ostberg finished fourth for Citroën. Hyundai’s best result came from Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo, who finished fifth and sixth respectively. While Elfyn Evans was the best placed Ford driver in P7.
Rally Sweden is next up, taking place in mid-February.
One-two-three! Volkswagen makes history at the Rally Monte Carlo
- Second generation Polo R WRC makes dream debut at the legendary Rally Monte Carlo
- Ogier/Ingrassia win, ahead of Latvala/Anttila and Mikkelsen/Fløene
- Volkswagen the fifth manufacturer ever to claim a one-two-three at the most iconic rally
Volkswagen started the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with a historic success. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) claimed a one-two-three for the Polo R WRC at the most iconic rally in the world. This makes Volkswagen only the fifth manufacturer ever to have achieved this feat at the “Monte”.
“A one-two-three at the Rally Monte Carlo is a fantastic performance from the entire Volkswagen team, and I am very proud of our crew,” said Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neußer, Volkswagen Board Member for Technical Development. “To start the season in this manner with a new car, and in such difficult conditions, far exceeds our expectations. The entire troop worked in perfect harmony. Everyone was there for each other, everyone knew exactly what he or she had to do, and Volkswagen ultimately deserved to win. This team is now deservedly up there with the other big rally manufacturers.”
Dream debut for the second generation Polo R WRC
The 2015 Rally Monte Carlo marked the first competitive outing for the new Polo R WRC, and promptly became a success story. Ogier/Ingrassia and Latvala/Anttila were in the cockpit of the second generation of the World Rally Car from Wolfsburg at the “Monte”, while Mikkelsen/Fløene will remain in the successful predecessor to the new car until the Rally Portugal. The four-wheel drive powerhouse, which now generates an impressive 318 hp, made a perfect debut: the new Polo R WRC finished first and second to outdo even the first outing of the 2013 and 2014 Polo for the World Rally Championship.
Historic: Volkswagen joins elite group of rally legends
The one-two-three at the 2015 Rally Monte Carlo was Volkswagen’s 23rd victory with the Polo R WRC and the eleventh time the manufacturer has had more than one car on the podium since it joined the series in 2013. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia climbed onto the top step of the podium for the 25th time at the Rally Monte Carlo, and for the second year in a row at the “Monte”. This sees Ogier pull level with rally legend Colin McRae in the all-time list of WRC wins. First, second and third at the 2015 “Monte” was also a historic one-two-three at the iconic rally – and only the sixth ever. Volkswagen became only the fifth manufacturer since 1973 to record a “triple” in the “Monte” history books, and thus joins the ranks of such legendary rally manufacturers as Renault-Alpine, Lancia, Audi and Citroën.
Typical “Monte” – Tyre gambles and diverse conditions
Dry asphalt with – by “Monte” standards – plenty of grip, black ice, snow and slush: the teams at the 2015 Rally Monte Carlo were faced with all of the above. And the conditions changed constantly from one kilometre to the next, making tyre selection particularly tricky. Each crew had to select 30 Michelin competition tyres from the 82 at their disposal – eight hard, 16 soft, 24 soft, ten winter tyres and 24 studded tyres.
Seb vs Seb – a thrilling duel, but over far too soon
For the first two days of the Rally Monte Carlo, fans were kept on the edge of their seats by the duel raging between the two Sebs. Sébastien Ogier in the Polo R WRC and Sébastien Loeb in a Citroën were embroiled in a thrilling battle for the lead. Ogier had moved into an eight-second lead at the halfway point of the rally when Loeb, making his WRC comeback, lost a huge amount of time and dropped well down the overall standings. And so the prestigious duel was curtailed, just as it was getting really interesting. No longer was the nine-time world champion the number one threat to Sébastien Ogier, but his team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen.
Personal bests – Latvala and Mikkelsen make dream starts to the new WRC season
Second place for Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila and third for Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene were their best results to date at the Rally Monte Carlo. As such, they were also an improvement on last year. Twelve months ago, Latvala/Anttila came home fifth and Mikkelsen, with his co-driver at the time Mikko Markkula (FIN), seventh to finish the “Monte” for the first time. Latvala/Anttila moved into second place on the seventh special stage, and held onto the runner-up spot right through to the end of a rally held in typically difficult “Monte” conditions. Mikkelsen/Fløene also climbed into third place on the very same stage.
500 special stages – an exceptional record
The closing Power Stage at the Rally Monte Carlo formed the 500th special stage for the Volkswagen Polo R WRC in the World Rally Championship since its debut at the 2013 “Monte”. Since then, the World Rally Car from Wolfsburg has established itself as the car with the highest win ratio ever in the World Rally Championship. Not only have 85.2 per cent of all possible victories gone to Wolfsburg, but Volkswagen has also won 347 of its 500 special stages.
The icing on the cake: Power Stage yields bonus point for Jari-Matti Latvala
Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila enjoyed an almost perfect end to the Rally Monte Carlo. They clocked the third fastest time on the closing Power Stage. With bonus points on offer to the fastest three cars, the Finnish duo picked up another valuable point towards the World Championship.
Quotes after day four of the Rally Monte Carlo
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“What a fantastic start to the new season! I’m over the moon. Getting a win at the Rally Monte Carlo is special for any driver, but words can’t describe what a win here means to me – this is my home. Friends, family and fans give me so much support and self-confidence here. The atmosphere was magical. I’m grateful that I can give something back with my joy. This 83rd staging of the ‘Monte’ is one of the most difficult rallies I can remember, as far as the conditions are concerned. Selecting the tyres was particularly difficult at the start. Then there was the exciting battle with Sébastien Loeb, who was producing spectacular times on Thursday. Big thanks go to our team and my ice spies. It goes without saying that I am also delighted with the great overall result for Volkswagen; as long as I’m at the top, Jari-Matti and Andreas are my favourite people to share the podium with.”
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“We couldn’t have wished for a better start. Our aim right from the word go was to finish in the top four, and we did better than that. I’m delighted. It’s a weight off my mind since my previous starts at the Rally Monte Carlo hadn’t exactly been successful. The conditions weren’t easy and you had to compromise on speed to avoid making mistakes. After we had built up a good lead early on, it was all about getting the overall result, and no longer about setting the fastest times. The one-two-three is the best reward for the whole team, who put so much effort and passion into developing the new Polo.”
Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“That was obviously an outstanding start to the new season for the whole team. You don’t celebrate a one-two-three at the ‘Monte’ every day. I’m proud to have played a part. But I’m also delighted that my own season has started so well. Before we set off I would have taken any spot in the top five. Third place exceeds all my expectations. We’ll celebrate this podium result properly, that much is certain. The conditions at this ‘Monte’ were extremely difficult and it was the first time that I have started here when there has been snow, ice and slippery asphalt. Right from the start my focus was on finishing safely – and it paid off. I learned so much and ended up with a lot. Quite simply, it was a dream start.”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“What a fantastic result for Volkswagen, but particularly for our drivers. No rally is more demanding than the ‘Monte’. The human factor makes much more of a difference here than at any of the other rallies. I’m particularly proud of Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen for giving Volkswagen the perfect start to the season by finishing first, second and third. There was no shortage of rivals, or difficult conditions that needed a cool head. I’m just as proud of the whole team, who worked together perfectly to send the Polo R WRC back onto the special stages in perfect condition every day, as I am of the drivers and co-drivers.”
And then there was …
… the second ‘local’ driver at the “Monte”. By the time the service park had moved from Gap (France) to Monaco, Andreas Mikkelsen became the driver with the shortest journey home. The Volkswagen service area is located right on the dock at Quai Antoine 1er in the principality – exactly the same address as that of Andreas Mikkelsen, who found himself no more than fifty steps away from his flat during the service. However, Mikkelsen stayed in a hotel with the rest of the team during the rally, leaving his flat free for friends and family. Sébastien Ogier also enjoyed a trip home on day two of the rally, as the “Monte” took him through his birthplace of Forest Saint Julien and within shouting distance of his parents’ house.
FIA Rally World Championship (WRC), Rally Monte Carlo – Final Results
1. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen 3h 36m 40.2s
2. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen + 58.0s
3. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), Volkswagen + 2m 12.3s
4. Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S), Citroën + 2m 43.6s
5. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai + 3m 12.1s
6. Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (E/E), Hyundai + 3m 12.9s
7. Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (GB/GB), Ford + 5m 23.7s
8. Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (F/MC), Citroën + 8m 34.7s
9. Martin Prokop/Jan Tománek (CZ/CZ), Ford + 9m 54.8s
10. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL), Citroën + 10m 55.6s
FIA Rally World Championship (WRC), Rally Monte Carlo – Power Stage Results
1. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL), Citroën 6m 30.5s
2. Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (F/MC), Citroën + 0.2s
3. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen + 1.9s
FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Overall Standings – Drivers’ Championship
1. Sébastien Ogier 25
2. Jari-Matti Latvala 19
3. Andreas Mikkelsen 15
4. Mads Østberg 12
5. Thierry Neuville 10
6. Dani Sordo 8
7. Sébastien Loeb 6
8. Elfyn Evans 6
9. Kris Meeke 4
10. Martin Prokop 2
1. Volkswagen Motorsport 43
2. Hyundai Motorsport 27
3. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 12
4. M-Sport 12
5. Jipocar Czech National Team 6
6. FWRT 1