Archive | WRC

24 May 2016 ~ 0 Comments

2016 Rally Portugal podiums for Mikkelsen and Ogier

2016 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Portugal: Ogier/Ingrassia

Four winners in five rounds of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship – that was the result of the 2016 Rally Portugal, at which Citroën’s Kris Meeke reigned supreme. That of course means one thing: victory escaped Volkswagen Motorsport’s three-time world champion Sébastien Ogier.

But, it wasn’t all bad news: although Ogier finished uncharacteristically on the last step of the podium, his finish and Andreas Mikkelsen’s second place shored up the Volkswagen Motorsport points tally in the overall championship standings.

Mikkelsen and co-driver Anders Jæger’s finish benefitted them in particular, with the Norwegian pair leapfrogging two places up the Drivers’ Championship table, now just 47 points behind their leading French team-mates. Whatever the outcome, the podium places in Portugal were the 318bhp Polo R WRC’s 75th and 76th top three results in the car’s 44th competitive event. What of Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila? The Finnish duo came home sixth.

‘Cautious approach’
Ogier claimed he was close to both his and the car’s limits in Portugal: ‘That was certainly one of the toughest and most physically demanding rallies I have ever driven at in Portugal. Julien and I were once again right on the limit this weekend. As such, I am very happy with my performance. I would obviously have liked to have stayed ahead of Andreas. However, after the slow puncture on Sunday’s first stage, we had to take a slightly more cautious approach.

‘Without another spare tyre it would have been too risky otherwise with these route conditions. I would like to say an extra big ‘Obrigado’ to the many Portuguese fans. The crowds here are simply fantastic. It is great to see that the entire country is supporting rallying – whether the police, fans or the president himself, who popped in to see us in the service park.’

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28 April 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Polo R WRCs on the podium: Ogier and Mikkelsen score at Rally Argentina

2016 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Argentina: Ogier/Ingrassia

After an eventful three days, Volkswagen Motorsport’s Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen stood on the second and third steps respectively of the 36th Rally Argentina podium. Hyundai Motorsport’s Hayden Paddon emerged victorious after an incident-packed fourth round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), which ran around the gravel tracks surrounding Córdoba from 21-24 April.

Second-fastest time
After a six-week break, the Volkswagen team were all ready for the 364.68km Argentine event and, along with Hyundai, set the pace on Shakedown. Recording the second and third fastest times, the Hannover-based outfit Jari-Matti Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila were in the leading Polo R WRC, with Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia third. Norwegians Mikkelsen and Anders Jæger were fifth.

Going into the action proper on the first special stage – a 1.5-km long spectator-lined spectacle in the centre of Córdoba – Volkswagen’s Ogier was keen to clinch victory as the South American round is the only one on the current WRC calendar the Frenchman is yet to win. It started well, with the Gap-born driver clocking the fastest time along with Hyundai’s Dani Sordo. Latvala finished twelfth, while Mikkelsen was just one place below his Finnish team-mate.

The first full day of action delivered action aplenty. Latvala and Anttila stormed ahead after 152 kilometres of stages to take the lead, leaving Ogier and Ingrassia trailing over seven seconds behind. Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon and John Kennard were an impressive third in the i20 WRC, one place ahead of Mikkelsen and Jæger.

Spectacular crash
Still on a high after their victory at Rally Mexico last month, Latvia and Anttila were on a charge. Sadly, it wasn’t to last. On stage 14 of day two, the Finns spectacularly crashed out after hitting a rock at the side of the road. The number ‘2’ Polo R WRC rolled several times, and the damage to the car was so severe, the pair were forced to retire. The Finns’ exit was great shame, as Latvala had finally seemed to have broken his 2016 start-of-season run of bad luck.

Almost unbelievably, Latvala’s departure handed the rally lead to young Paddon, who was 29.8 seconds ahead of world champion Ogier. Going into the last four special stages and 55.28 kilometres of the final day, it was a David and Goliath battle to play for. Mikkelsen and Jæger had kept up the pace, too, and finished the day 14.5 seconds behind Ogier and Ingrassia.

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13 April 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Motorsport reveal look and technology of 2017 Polo R WRC

2017 Volkswagen Polo R WRC (illustration)

With the introduction of new World Rally Championship (WRC) technical regulations for 2017, the championship-winning Polo R WRC may age about to get even more dominant. The FIA Motor Sport Council want to make the next generation of rally cars faster, wider, more aggressive in appearance, but safer, too. The new, more powerful machines will debut next year.

380bhp, enlarged air restrictor
Volkswagen Motorsport has released this teaser image of how the new-for-2017 Polo R WRC could look (the final appearance may differ) as well as a few technical details about its new rally challenger. The 2017 Polo WRC will have around 380bhp (280kW) – up from today’s 318bhp – thanks to the enlargement of the engine’s air restrictor from 33mm to 36mm.

An electronically controlled centre differential will make a return on next year’s cars, while boost pressure will run at a maximum of 2.5 bar. The minimum length of the new cars is now 3,900 millimetres, while the minimum weight is reduced from 1,200 to 1,175 kilograms, around 25kg lighter than the current Polo R WRC.

More aerodynamic freedom
The 2017 Polo R WRC will draw upon the aggressive look of its two previous generations, and be even wilder. The FIA’s new regulations allow for more aerodynamic freedom and a ‘free zone defined around the body shell of the production car’ to create a maximum width of 1,875mm. The third-generation Polo R WRC is 50mm wider than its predecessors.

The most visually striking changes are the larger rear wing and broader front spoiler. The car in the illustration released by Volkswagen Motorsport also gets bumper air scoops in the style of VW’s all-electric ‘e’ models. The new regulations also allow for greater overhang front and rear: ‘[There is] greater freedom on the lateral parts of the front bumper, with potential for additional aero devices ahead of the front wheels.’ The larger rear wing will aid downforce.

‘Crucial phase’
Volkswagen Motorsport has been developing the next-generation Polo rally car since summer 2015, with key components having been tested in the current car’s chassis at locations in Europe, most notably the south of France. The Hannover-based outfit says that testing is now entering ‘a crucial phase’. We also believe it to be the final phase of development.

Outgoing Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito said: ‘‘The 2017 WRC regulations include many spectacular technical innovations for the World Rally Championship. The World Rally cars of the future will incorporate all the experience that teams have gained in recent years.

‘They will be considerably more dynamic, while at the same time being safer. As usual, we are working painstakingly on the development of the next generation of the Polo R WRC. The key between now and the start of next season is to achieve the best possible prerequisites to allow the 2017 Polo R WRC to be as successful as its two predecessors.’

No pressure then.

Volkswagen Motorsport currently tops the standings in all of the classifications in this year’s World Rally Championship, having won the first three rallies of the season. The team from Wolfsburg’s next outing is the fourth WRC round of the year – the Rally Argentina (21-24 April 2016). It can only hope the 2017 Polo R WRC continues the championship-winning tradition.

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12 March 2016 ~ 0 Comments

¡Ay, caramba! Latvala puts in a spiky performance to win 2016 Rally Mexico

2016 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Mexico: Latvala/Anttila

After a disappointing start to the season, Jari-Matti Latvala staked his intent on the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and put in a dominant drive to cross the finish line first at Rally Mexico. It was sigh of relief for the Finnish Volkswagen Polo R WRC driver and his co-driver Miikka Anttila: the pair suffered retirement in the season-opening Rally Monte-Carlo and setbacks during Rally Sweden which resulted in a 26th-place finish.

French Polo R WRC crew and reigning world champions Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia once again put in a storming drive and did all they could to temper Latvala’s indomitable spirit. However, the pair had to relinquish the win this time around, coming home on the second step of the podium. Ogier and Ingrassia won the event in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Latvala and Anttila’s win meanwhile was their Rally Mexico first, and the 16th of the pair’s careers.

Huge challenges
Held around the city of León on 3-6 March, Rally Mexico temperatures can reach 30 °C and the event also has the season’s highest point at 2,746 metres above sea level, creating huge challenges for both drivers and their cars. It also has the longest stage: at 80km (49 miles), ‘Guanajuato’ tested both the endurance and the concentration of man and machine.

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16 February 2016 ~ 0 Comments

No sign of thawing: Ogier and Polo R WRC take third Rally Sweden win

2016 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Sweden: Ogier/Ingrassia

Fresh from victory at the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship’s (WRC) opening round last month, Sébastien Ogier lifted the trophy at the series’ second event, the 12-14 February Rally Sweden. Aided by his loyal and equally talented co-driver Julien Ingrassia, Ogier finished the shortened 331.21km-long event almost 30 seconds ahead of Hyundai Motorsport’s Hayden Paddon. It was the third time the French duo had taken the Swedish spoils.

Shaky start
The 64th running of the Swedish WRC event got off to a shaky start with unusually temperate weather melting ice from the traditionally slippery stages. Insufficient snow and ice jeopardised the whole event. Soft ground saw the event cut from 21 to just 13 stages, but studded tyres were still used on the rally which is based around the town of Karlstad, west of Stockholm, and also slips into the Norwegian forests for a short time.

Despite protestations about the non-cancellation of the event, Ogier and Ingrassia once again put on a masterful display, clearing the stages of snow for the following pack. By the end of the first day, the Frenchmen were 26.9 seconds ahead of New Zealander Hayden Paddon in the new Hyundai i20 WRC, who in turn led Mads Østberg’s Ford Fiesta RS by 6.8 seconds.

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