Volkswagen WRC

Sebastien Ogier wins 2014 Rally Australia

2014 Rally Australia

Sebastien Ogier led a dominant Volkswagen team to victory at Rally Australia on the weekend. Volkswagen drivers filled all three podium steps in order of seniority, with Jari-Matti Latvala finishing just 6.8 seconds behind Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen a bit over a minute further behind.

With that Volkswagen successfully defended its manufacturers championship and in record time too. There’s three rallies left in the season and with a 50 point lead Ogier is favourite to claim his second world championship, ahead of teammate Latvala.

On the forest tracks around Coffs Harbour Citroën driver Kris Meeke showed good early pace fighting for a podium position until a 61 second penalty was handed to him for cutting a corner illegally. That left him back in fifth battling with Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen, a three time winner down under.

Meeke’s pace was still strong and he was able to claim one position back by the end of the rally, finishing over eight seconds ahead of Hirvonen.

Kiwi driver Hayden Paddon continued his good efforts with Hyundai coming home in sixth place, his best WRC finish to date and one place ahead of team leader Thierry Neuville.

Australia’s Chris Atkinson finished tenth for Hyundai after finding conditions difficult on the first day.

“It’s not been the easiest of weekends as I struggled to get into a rhythm early on in the rally,” Atkinson said. “That has had a knock-on effect for the remaining days, as I was first on the road. That has dictated the extent I have been able to push so instead we just focused on finishing the rally. It’s nice we’ve been able to get all three cars inside the top ten.”

Volkswagen’s press release is available after the break and we’ll have a photo gallery for you later in the week.

Citroen Ford Hyundai Volkswagen WRC

2014 Rally Poland in pictures

2014 WRC Rally Poland

While it’s true we have missed out on regular WRC updates you haven’t missed out on anything you couldn’t have guessed for yourself. And that’s Sebastien Ogier has won another rally and is well on the way to his second world championship.

Also happy with his time in Poland was junior Volkswagen driver Andreas Mikkelesen who achieved his best WRC result to date. It was good to see Thierry Nueville at the somewhat pointy end, too. Let’s hope Hyundai can figure more prominently in the second half of the season.

Ogier leads Jari-Matti Latvala by 50 points in the title race. And if you were in any doubt about Volkswagen’s current WRC dominance then consider that Latvala, only in second in the championship, has enough points on his own to lead the manufacturers’ standings.

So now you’re up to speed on where the WRC is at and we promise you won’t have to wait over a month for a Rally Finland update!

2014 WRC Rally Poland

  1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Polo R WRC – 2:34:02.00
  2. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Polo R WRC – +1:07.7
  3. Thierry Neuville Hyundai i20 WRC – +2:13.5
Citroen Ford Hyundai Volkswagen WRC

2014 Rally Italia in pictures

2014 WRC Rally Italia

You may have noticed our WRC coverage has dropped off the radar for a bit, well in a mad panic before this weekend’s Rally Finland we’re going to bring you back up to speed. First, let’s take a look at Rally Italia, where we have assembled over 75 images from the four major teams for you to enjoy.

Sebastien Ogier won in Italy, extending his championship lead to 33 points over his Volkswagen teammate Jari-Matti Latvala. You may also recall this was the rally where Mikko Hirvonen’s backside got a bit hot.

2014 WRC Rally Italia

  1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Polo R WRC – 4:02:37.8
  2. Mads Ostberg Citroën DS3 WRC – +1:23.1
  3. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Polo R WRC – +1:32.8
Citroen Ford Hyundai Volkswagen WRC

Sebastien Ogier wins 2014 Rally Mexico

2014 WRC Rally Mexico

Clichés are usually so entrenched they cannot be avoided. In Rally Mexico three clichés became clear: 1. Sebastien Ogier wins rallies; 2. the winner in Mexico MUST wear a sombrero; and 3. Robert Kubica rolls rally cars.

Business as usual, then, it would appear. Although, Ogier did have to overcome Citroën’s Mads Ostberg on Day 1 to claim the lead, before once again settling into what appeared to be a controlled rhythm of excellence.

Ostberg’s challenge ended on Day 2 after his car suffered suspension damage as Ogier began to sieze control of the rally. The reigning world champion eventually won by more than 70 seconds from teammate Jarri-Matti Latvala. Meanwhile, Ostberg struggled on to finish ninth.

In a boost for the sport Thierry Neuville achieved Hyundai’s first WRC podium, despite being more than five minutes behind the race winner. Neuville’s joy was almost short lived, though, with a holed radiator after the final stage almost making him late for time control, which would have denied him of that podium result. Some quick thinking and repairs aided by a bottle of Corona to top up the radiator were enough to bring Neuville home.

Chris Atkinson got his first taste of Hyundai’s teething problems on Day 1 when a suspension arm broke for no apparent reason, sending him down the leaderboard. It was a precursor to a raft of issues and he did well to fight back and earn the team some solid points thanks to a seventh place finish.

Ford’s hopes were carried by youngster Elfyn Evans who recorded his best WRC result with P4, with Mikko Hirvonen well behind in eighth place after an alternator problem ended his assault on Day 1. Robert Kubica rolled his car heavily twice, first on Day 1 and again the following day.

Kubica wasn’t alone, with Volkswagen’s Andreas Mikkelesen missing a pace note and flipping his Polo in spectacular fashion. Amazingly he landed on his wheels and was able to finish the stage, but not much more. Kris Meeke endured a troubled event in his Citroën and finished outside the top 10.

Ogier now resumes the lead of the world championship, three points ahead of Latvala, both are comfortably ahead of Ostberg in third.

The next rally will be held in Portugal across the first weekend in April, where we hope Hyundai can continue to push for another strong result. Or that anyone can make Volkswagen fight for victory.

Citroen Ford Hyundai Volkswagen WRC

Sebastien Ogier wins 2014 Rallye Monte Carlo

2014 Rallye Monte Carlo

Sebastien Ogier overcame a poor tyre choice on Day 1 to fight back and win the Rallye Monte Carlo in style, getting his world championship defence off to a near perfect start.

To rack up his first Monte win Ogier had to reel in an impressive Bryan Bouffier in his first outing at the wheel of a privately entered Ford Fiesta RS WRC. Bouffier’s name may be familiar to you, he was one of the test drivers who helped develop the Hyundai i20 WRC, so his second place result will be extra sweet after missing out on official driving duties with the Korean team this year.

Conditions during the rally were extreme and presented the drivers with all kinds of hazards, from ice, “shiny” wet patches on slippery tarmac, heavy rain and a snow storm just to top things off.

Kris Meeke took a big step in repaying Citroën’s faith and was delighted to overcome those difficulties unscathed on his way to satisfying third place. He leaves Monte Carlo with increased confidence, acknowledging he has no issue with raw pace, but has in the past made too many silly errors.

Robert Kubica may need to take a few notes from Meeke. The former F1 star was sure fast enough during the rally and was easily mixing it with the established WRC front runners. Yet, he still found his way off course and crashed into a bridge in a manner perhaps only Robert could. Thankfully the impact was at relatively low speed and he was in no real danger of any injury.

Jari-Matti Latvala finds himself in Ogier’s shadow once again, although he lost a bit of time on Day 2 with an annoying puncture. Latvala did register a small win over his teammate when he beat him to first place in the Power Stage by 0.2 seconds. Judging by the look on Ogier’s face immediately afterwards the world of motorsport has another Seb who doesn’t like losing one little bit!

Of course, Hyundai’s return to the WRC spotlight didn’t quite go to plan and they’ll be hoping for more in Sweden next month.

After the break there’s Volkswagen’s official word along with pictures and videos from the leading WRC teams.

Volkswagen WRC

Volkswagen celebrates stunning 2013 with silverware

Volkswagen Motorsport collects WRC tophies

Last weekend Citroën was busy signing its drivers for 2014, but Volkswagen Motorsport had the rather more enviable task of attending the FIA’s annual trophy presentation night in Paris.

While there FIA President Jean Todt was kind enough to furnish Volkswagen with three trophies, one for the manufacturers’ title and one each for the championship winning driver, Sebastien Ogier, and his co-driver, Julien Ingrassia.

Ogier reminded us all of the obvious, taht nobody could have predicted such unprecedented success for Volkswagen this year.

“If anyone had told us before the start of the season that Julien and I would end the year with nine wins and the World Championship title, we would probably have sent them straight to the team doctor,” he said. “This is a dream come true for Julien and me, and we are both extremely proud and honoured to finally get our hands on the FIA trophies.”

Team boss, Jost Capito also shared a few words of gratitude for his Volkswagen Motorsport colleagues.

“Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine this kind of result in our first season in the World Rally Championship,” Capito reflected. “I would like to say a big thank you to everyone in the Volkswagen team. From the mechanics to the truck drivers, from the race engineers to the marketing department—the commitment shown by every single individual is what made the greatest success in Volkswagen’s motorsport history possible.

“And we must not forget that the Polo R WRC was not only quick from the word go, but also extremely reliable. Our three driver/co-driver pairings also produced outstanding performances. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, in particular, more than deserve their title in the Driver and Co-Driver Championship, with nine wins to their name this season.”

Volkswagen WRC

Volkswagen Motorsport pats itself on the back

The story of glory video

That dust is pretty much all that Volkswagen’s rivals saw during the 2013 WRC season. In its debut year Volkswagen Motorsport won 10 out of 13 races, with nine of those victories going to new world champion Sebastien Ogier.

It was remarkable year for the German giants who could not have hoped for such great things when they rocked up to Monte Carlo in mid-January.

Here, in this brief one minute video, Volkswagen recaps its year. This is the director’s cut according to the video’s title. That’s all very well, but we’d quite like to see an extended remix thanks very much.

Citroen Ford Volkswagen WRC

Sebastien Ogier wins 2013 Wales Rally GB

2013 Wales Rally GB

Okay, we know this update is a week late, but you pay peanuts, you get monkeys!

So, last weekend Sebastien Ogier did what he does best and that’s dominating his teammates and opponents on the way to another WRC victory, this time at the season-ending Wales Rally GB.

Like the Seabstian in Formula 1, Ogier has done enough by himself to wrap up the manufacturers’ championship for his employer. Although Volkswagen certainly didn’t complain to see Jari-Matti Latvala pick up second place in Wales, providing the team with a perfectly suitable close to a year they would not have even dared to dream when they rocked up to Monte Carlo in January.

Equally fitting was seeing Thierry Neuville on the podium. In just his second year in the WRC he placed second overall in the drivers’ title. He’ll be hoping to emulate Volkswagen’s success in 2014 when he leads the charge for Hyundai’s re-introduction into rallying’s premier category.

And the less said about Citroën’s race in Wales and the season overall the better. They had a terrible year and may well choose to sulk off into the distance with the security of Sebastien Loeb’s WTCC campaign to console them.

The WRC now enters its dormant stage. Although, with just over 50 days until the teams re-emerge for the 2014 season there won’t be much time for reflection for Ogier and Volkswagen, who will no doubt be hoping to embarrass the competition again next year. Thankfully, Neuville, at the very least, will have other ideas.

Citroen Ford Volkswagen WRC

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.

Citroen Volkswagen WRC

Sebastien Ogier wins 2013 Rallye de France-Alsace

2013 Rallye de France-Alsace

Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have capped off their world championship by coming from behind to claim victory in Rallye de France-Alsace.

After the euphoria of the opening day when their championship was finally secured in the Power Stage the leading duo made a poor start to the rally proper. They ended Day 2 down in fifth place and well off the pace.

Ford driver Thierry Neuville was looking good thanks to a wise tyre choice which allowed him to end the going fastest in all the afternoon stages. An unfortunate puncture on Day 3 ended Neuville’s hopes of a maiden victory. He has shown much promise in 2013 and his career is sure to reach greater heights in the coming years.

Dani Sordo was again showing Citroën he has the pace on tarmac and inherited the lead from Neuville, but by the day’s end Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala had carved out a narrow edge to head the field into the final day.

Day 4 shaped as a classic with the first four drivers—Latvala, Sordo, Ogier and Loeb—separated by just five seconds. In wet and muddy conditions Ogier’s class shone through. He ended the opening stage of the day with a seven second lead over Sordo, with Latvala a further six seconds behind the Citroën driver.

Sadly, for all-time greats and nine time world champions, Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, their rally ended after Loeb lost control on a fast right hander, spearing off the road and into the bushes where the car came to rest on its roof. Thankfully both men were okay, but it was an unfortunate end to rallying’s best ever career.

Citroën had adorned their car with a great looking black and gold livery with the pair’s impressive statistics featured all over the car. While they did move their all-time tally of stage wins from 896 to 900, there were no additions to their 116 podiums or 78 rally victories. Still, it’s an amazing record, which is sure to remain unmatched.

Ogier was never really troubled for the remainder of the day and he took victory by 12.2 seconds from Dani Sordo. Jari-Matti Latvala was third, 19.5 seconds behind his teammate.

There’s nice symmetry in Ogier being crowned world champion in his home country as the title finally escapes Loeb’s clutches. The Alsace region is where Loeb grew up and while he’ll be disappointed to have ended his career upside down the crowd support he has enjoyed this rally will stay with him for years to come.

With two more events left on the 2013 calendar Volkswagen enjoys an 80 point lead over Citroën in the manufacturers’ championship and will be hoping it can wrap that title up at the next event in Spain later this month.

Volkswagen WRC

Sebastien Ogier wins 2013 World Rally Championship

Julien Ingrassia and Sebastien Ogier

Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have now officially claimed the 2013 World Rally Championship after finishing third in the Powerstage at the Rally de France-Alsace.

It caps off a season of dominance for the Volkswagen duo who have won six of the 10 rallies so far, and with three rallies still up for grabs (including Rally France) you’d expect the new world order to add to their tally.

Normally the nominated Powerstage is run towards the end of the rally, but for Rally France the nominated stage was SS1. Citroën driver Dani Sordo won the stage and collects three world championship points.

The only man who could stop Ogier winning the title was Ford’s Thierry Neuville, but to catch the Volkswagen ace he needed to win the Powerstage. Neuville, like Sordo a tarmac surface specialist, could only manage the two points offered for second place and with that Ogier’s title was secured. For good measure Ogier and Ingrassia finished third in the Powerstage and claimed a single championship point.

“I am absolutely overjoyed,” exclaimed Ogier. “I could give everyone in the world a big hug. The feeling is impossible to describe. To have won the World Championship title in France is an absolute dream come true. For the last few days I have been trying not to think too much about it, in order to avoid making any mistakes. The relief now is immense.

“However, I am also well aware that rallying is a team sport. This success would never have been possible without our fantastic team at Volkswagen. Whether trucker, mechanic or race engineer, I have to thank everyone. One thing is for sure—we will celebrate in style now!”

“It is possibly the best day of my life—and definitely of my career,” enthused Ingrassia. “If anyone had told me at the start of the year that Séb and I would already be World Champions with so much of the season still to go, I would immediately have told them they are mad. We were so close in Australia three weeks ago, but now the title win is a reality.”

It’s hard not to be happy for Ogier/Ingrassia and Volkswagen who have injected the WRC with a new enthusiasm. Nobody would have expected the Polo R WRC to make such an impact in its debut season, least of all the establishment at Citroën.

We’ll have more coverage of the rally over the next few days, but for now there’s some extra material from Volkswagen after the break.

Volkswagen WRC

Ogier wants to win WRC title in style

Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2013 Rally Italy

Sebastien Ogier has displayed the petulance of a world champion by saying he deserves to win the Rally de France-Alsace (3–6 October) on the way to clinching his maiden WRC crown.

On current form you’d think Ogier doesn’t have a lot to worry about, but all-time great Sebastien Loeb will emerge for one final hurrah in France and on his home tarmac Loeb could pose a genuine threat to Ogier’s ascension plans.

Talking about his approach to racing in France Ogier said: “I will go there for the victory. The only point which would make a bad situation for me, of course, [is] if Seb Loeb wins the rally and I got trouble or something.

“Then it will be a bit of a shadow on my championship against his victory again and I think I don’t deserve that.”

Hmm, getting a bit ahead of yourself there Sebastien?

So far in 2013 Loeb has competed in three WRC events: Monte Carlo (win), Sweden (second to Ogier) and Argentina (win). It’s been 12 months since Loeb competed in a tarmac event. But let’s face it, the nine-time champ is no rookie and he will be up to speed in no time.

Ogier missed securing the WRC title in Rally Australia by a single point, as such he only needs to finish in the top 10 in France to inherit Loeb’s title. If we were him we’d take a conservative approach in France and be prepared to lose a battle on the way to winning a very satisfying war.

[Source: Autosport]