Citroen Volkswagen WRC

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.

Volkswagen WRC

Sebastien Ogier wins 2013 Rally Finland

Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2013 Rally Finland

Sebastien Ogier won the 2013 Rally Finland last weekend and is now starting to talk about the world championship. And why wouldn’t he, it was his fifth win for the year and he enjoys a 90 point lead over his nearest rivals and seems unstoppable.

“It is impossible to describe how I feel! This win here in Finland is a dream come true for me,” said Ogier. “And to win in Sweden as well this year—it is a great feeling to win these two rallies this year ahead of the Nordic guys like Mads Østberg, Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala.”

In second place, over 36 seconds behind Ogier was promising Ford driver Thierry Neuville, who also claimed maximum points in the power stage; the first non-Volkswagen driver to do so this year. Claiming the final podium step was Neuville’s Ford teammate, Mads Østberg.

Jari-Matti Latvala had high hopes coming into his home rally, but made a mistake on the opening day resulting in damaged suspension and the end of his hopes for victory.

Rally Finland means one thing: lots of jumps! There’s video and more photos for you after the break, which capture the air time very well. These are complemented by Volkswagen’s official word from the event.

Volkswagen WRC

Sebastien Ogier wins 2013 Rally d’Italia

Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2013 Rally Italy

Volkswagen’s extraordinary debut season in the WRC continued to gather momentum after Sebastien Ogier claimed victory in the Rally d’Italia Sardegna. That makes it five wins from seven rallies for Volkswagen, with nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb the only person able to beat VW so far this year.

Ogier’s fourth win of the year came relatively easily too, enjoying a margin of more than 75 seconds back to Ford’s Thierry Neuville. A further 30-odd seconds behind was Acropolis Rally winner Jari-Matti Latvala.

Latvala slipped as low as twelfth early in the rally after a puncture cost him almost two minutes. With that in mind he was very happy to have clawed his way back to third place. Young Volkswagen driver Andreas Mikkelsen put in some very strong performances as well and was disappointed to have crashed out late in the event while pushing hard to take fourth place from Citroën’s Dani Sordo.

Speaking after the rally Ogier said his driving style helped him achieve success in the heat of Sardinia. With half to the WRC season now behind us you also get the feeling that Volkswagen think it’s now okay to start talking of world titles.

“It feels fantastic to be back on top of the podium again! I was really beginning to miss that feeling after the last two rallies. I’m simply delighted – the team did a fantastic job and the Polo ran like a dream all weekend. We now have a very comfortable lead in the Drivers’ Championship rankings,” said Ogier.

“The rally was incredibly demanding physically, due to the high temperatures, and it sometimes got as hot as 45 degrees in the cockpit. On the second day in particular, you came close to your limits and you easily lost three to four litres of fluid.

“The heat really takes it out on the tyres and the car too. My tyre-friendly driving style was no doubt one of the reasons for my victory. I was especially pleased to once again win the Power Stage. I had a tough fight on my hands there with Thierry Neuville, who was incredibly fast during that stage, as he was throughout the rally.”

Citroen WRC

Sebastien Ogier wins Rally Jordan

Sebastien Ogier, 2011 Rally Jordan

Citroën works driver Sebastien Ogier has backed up his victory in Portugal by winning Rally Jordan on the weekend. It was a nail biting finish in the end and Ogier’s winning margin of just 0.2 seconds over Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala is the closest in WRC history. World champ Sebastien Loeb had to make do with third place, although he now leads the driver’s standings.

It’s a tightly packed leaderboard at the moment and Loeb sits on 74 points, two ahead of Ford’s Miko Hirvonen. On 69 points is race winner Ogier, himself a narrow three points clear of Latvala.

There’s more from Citroën after the break. The next rally takes place in Sardinia, Italy (5–8 May) and will mark the full race debut of the MINI WRC.