WRC: Volkswagen back on top in Poland with a faultless one-two
Wolfsburg (05 July 2015). What happens when two men drive the perfect rally: round seven of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) saw Volkswagen claim an outstanding result, courtesy of a one-two, as well as first and third places on the closing Power Stage. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia secured their fifth win of the season at the Rally Poland, the 29th of their careers. Volkswagen has now started 33 rallies, during which time the two-time world champions have contributed 22 of the 28 victories achieved with the Polo R WRC. As such, they have been victorious in two thirds of all rallies since January 2013. However, Ogier/Ingrassia were pushed all the way to the finish at the fastest rally of the WRC year so far, and had to produce a flawless performance to fend off the challenge of team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) and eventually win by just 11.9 seconds. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) in the third Polo R WRC was embroiled in a thrilling battle with Ott Tanak/Raigo Mölder (EST/EST, M-Sport-Ford) for third place, before ending the Rally Poland in fifth place following a last-minute mistake.
Thrilling duel: two-time world champion vs. youngster has Rally Poland on edge of its seat
The battle between Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia and Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene at the Rally Poland will go down as one of the most exciting duels in the history of rallying. In extreme heat, with the temperature never dropping below the 30-degree mark, and with vast stretches of the route taken at full throttle, the two duos produced virtually flawless performances in similar conditions. The challenger, Mikkelsen, kept the pressure on defending champion Ogier right down to the finish – in the end, Ogier had his nose in front by just 11.9 seconds.
One and a half hours flat-out through Poland – high-speed festival in Masuria
When it comes to speed, Andreas Mikkelsen is your man. The Volkswagen youngster clocked the quickest time on both of the fastest stages of the season so far, “Gorklo” and “Wieliczki” – at average speeds of 131.09 and 128.13 kilometres per hour. Sébastien Ogier secured a hard-fought victory at the Rally Poland with an average speed of 121.41 km/h. The two-time world champion spent 60.31 per cent of the Rally Poland at full throttle. That is 1:28.10.1 hours of the winning time of 2:26.11.5 hours. The Rally Poland is now twelfth in the list of the 15 fastest WRC rallies of all time, in which the Rally Finland makes eleven appearances. For comparison: the fastest round in the history of the World Rally Championship took place in Finland in 2012 – with an average speed of 122.90 kilometres per hour.
Exciting final few kilometres for Jari-Matti Latvala on his way to fifth place
Fifth place – the final few metres of the Rally Poland had a dramatic twist in store for Jari-Matti Latvala. The 2014 World Championship runner-up arrived in Poland having never finished on the podium in Masuria, and that place on the rostrum ultimately eluded him again in 2015. In trying to wrestle third place from Ott Tanak, the Finn skidded off the track on the very last special stage, hitting a tree with the front of his car. Making his 150th appearance in the WRC, Latvala had to postpone the celebrations for the 49th podium of his career. However, he was able to rescue fifth place despite a damaged radiator, thanks to an energetic effort from his mechanics. Going into the closing Power Stage, Latvala was just 1.1 seconds behind Ott Tanak/Raigo Mölder (EST/EST, M-Sport Ford).
Low retirement rate at Rally Poland – despite high speeds and heat
All 14 World Rally Cars reached the finish, with just one returning under Rally 2 regulations: the retirement rate at the 2015 Rally Poland was remarkably low. As in Monte Carlo and Sweden, Volkswagen enjoyed another round of the World Championship without any technical problems, with nothing more than routine work required during the six major services – and that at the fastest and hottest rally of the year so far. The only exception was the seventh and last service for Jari-Matti Latvala’s Polo R WRC, which was successfully repaired in time for the final 2.1-kilometre liaison stage after his crash on the Power Stage.
Quotes after day three of the Rally Poland
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“A fantastic Rally Poland! I am absolutely delighted and happy to have repeated last year’s win here. Julien and I really produced a perfect performance. The many fans and sensationally fast stages made this rally a fantastic event. The Polo worked perfectly. A big thank you to my team for that. Apart from the high temperatures, I had loads of fun in the cockpit. The win is also a huge step towards the World Championship title. We may now have a comfortable lead after the first half of the season, but there are still six rallies to come.”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“The Rally Poland was a virtually perfect rally in every regard for Volkswagen. Firstly, our drivers proved emphatically that they are the best three in the World Rally Championship. Secondly, they were involved in exciting battles with each other and our opponents, and did a great job of promoting the sport of rallying. The rally was also optimal from a technical point of view, without even a minor problem. Our technicians can be extremely proud of that – as that cannot be taken for granted at the hottest and fastest rally of the year. The team could not be closer, as far as team spirit and healthy rivalry is concerned. Andreas Mikkelsen enjoyed a fantastic rally, and narrowly missed out on his first win. However, he proved that Jari-Matti Latvala is not the only man the world champion – Sébastien Ogier – must view as a serious threat.”