Citroen WRC

VIDEO: Robert Kubica crashes out of Wales Rally GB

Robert Kubica, Citroen DS3 WRC, Wales Rally GB

Robert Kubica’s debut in a WRC car hasn’t gone to plan, being forced to retire from the event after crashing out twice.

The new WRC2 champion was on the back foot from the start of the event after his co-driver, Maciek Baran, retired prior to Wales Rally GB. Kubica and Citroën drafted in Michele Ferrara to join the Pole, which brought with it the added difficulty of having his notes read to him in Italian.

It’s not really surprising to learn that misunderstandings with pace notes have been blamed for Kubica’s two accidents. In the first accident, on Friday morning (see video below), Robert’s car suffered only minor damage and he was able to re-start the rally from 36th place on Saturday morning. Unfortunately, on SS11 Kubica went off again and was forced to retire.

It’s been an awful weekend for Citroën with Mikko Hirvonen also crashing out of the event after suffering heavy impact into a muddy bank on Day 1. The crash was blamed on an error from his co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen and the resulting blow left the interior of the DS3 WRC and both crew covered in mud.

Dani Sordo is the sole remaining driver for Citroën with one day left to run in the rally. Sadly for Dani his rally was compromised from the start after being given a five minute penalty for the team using its ninth chassis for the year.

You won’t be surprised to learn that Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala are fighting for the win in their Volkswagen Polo R WRCs. We’ll bring you a full update after the rally is over.

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Sebastien Ogier wins 2013 Rally de Espana

2013 Rallye de Espana

Sebastien Ogier’s good fortune has continued after he fought back to win Rally de Espana on the weekend. Jari-Matti Latvala’s second place ensured Volkswagen secured the manufacturers’ championship in style, too, registering the team’s first one-two finish.

Rally de Espana is a diverse event covering tarmac and gravel with the extra dimension of night stages. The severe dust during the gravel stages made things very tricky for the drivers.

Ogier started in his usual fashion, building a lead over his rivals. However, he suffered a puncture cutting a corner a little too aggressively and dropped down to fourth place. Latvala and Dani Sordo, in his home event, assumed the battle for the lead.

Sadly, both endured bad luck which put both men out of contention. Latvala’s car had a leaking fuel line on the final day which caused a small fire and scuppered any hopes of Volkswagen duel to the finish line. Alas, Sordo’s misfortune was worse, hitting a small rock which wrecked his suspension and forced him into retirement on the final day while a podium position was his for the taking.

In the difficult gravel stages Ogier was superb fighting his way back from a deficit of over 40 seconds. He put on a rallying masterclass, made his own luck and took the win by over 30 seconds in the end.

Earlier this year Sebastien Ogier raced in the Porsche Supercup at the Monaco Grand Prix, where he became friends with Sean Edwards. After the rally Ogier dedicated his win to Edwards and his family.

It’s been a magical debut season for Volkswagen in 2013 and with just Rally Wales GB in mid-November left on the calendar they’ll be hoping they can finish the season with another victory.

A special note for Robert Kubica, too, who won the WRC2 championship with his class victory in Spain. We’ll have more on that later.

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Sebastien Ogier wins 2013 Rally Australia

Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2013 Rally Australia

Volkswagen ace Sebastien Ogier enjoyed a commanding weekend around Coffs Harbour winning 19 of 22 stages on his way to a dominant Rally Australia victory. It’s his sixth win of the year and came within a whisker of confirming his maiden world championship.

In order for Ogier to claim the title in Australia he needed to finish nine points or more ahead of Ford’s Thierry Neuville. And for much of the event, with Neuville in third place out of Mikko Hirvonen’s reach in second place, the stars seemed aligned for Ogier.

However, Hirvonen’s Citroën suffered a puncture on the final stage and cost him enough time to promote Neuville into second place. It was rotten luck for Hirvonen who has endured a difficult year. He is a three-time winner of Rally Australia and was enjoying a good rally and looked set for a comfortable second place.

The mathematical chance for Neuville to upset Ogier now hangs on by a single point, although most now expect Ogier will have the luxury of confirming his world title in front of his home crowd in next month’s Rally de France-Alsace.

Elsewhere in the field Jari-Matti Latvala suffered a puncture to his Polo R WRC on the opening day which put him out of contention. He was able to earn some decent points for Volkswagen in the manufacturers’ championship, though, coming home in fourth place. Young Volkswagen driver Andreas Mikkelsen put his name in the spotlight ending Day 1 in the lead of the event. His inexperience showed and he finished the race in sixth place.

For Citroën it had subbed out Rally Germany winner Dani Sordo for Kris Meeke. In the early stages Meeke was repaying that faith on the difficult Australian gravel running well and looking secure in third place. On Day 2 a small mistake sent Meeke down a steep embankment and his car rolled several times. The Citroën crew did an amazing job to rebuild the car overnight and Meeke was able to rejoin the rally on the final day. Unfortunately he made another error and ripped the right rear suspension from his car. The 34-year-old Irishman cut a forlorn figure at rally’s end.

A quick shout out too for Coffs Harbour local Nathan Quinn who was competing in a Motorsport Italia MINI JCW WRC and brought it home in one piece in eighth place collecting four world championship points.

Photos, videos and official press statements from both Volkswagen and Citröen are all yours after the break.

Citroen Volkswagen WRC

“Shit happens!”

Sebastien Ogier crashes out of 2013 Rally Germany

This weekend’s Rally Germany was supposed to be Sebastien Ogier’s crowning glory. If things went his way he could have secured the 2013 World Rally Championship. At its home event, it would have been a perfect way for Volkswagen to announce its arrival on the world rally stage. Alas, as Ogier himself said, “Shit happens.”

Ogier crashed out on Day 1 with damaged suspension. He’ll now have to wait to secure his maiden world title. Teammate Jari-Matti Latvala now leads the charge in Germany, with Ford driver Thierry Neuville close behind.

Being a tarmac event, Rally Germany is one of our favourites. On asphalt the WRC cars look their best, with bigger wheels and lowered suspension.

For hot hatch fans it doesn’t get much better. That’s why we’ve included a couple of videos from Volkswagen and Citroën for you after the break.