29 October 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen seals manufacturers’ WRC title in Spain with one-two victory

2013 Volkswagen Polo R WRC: Rally Spain, Ogier/Ingrassia

Just as with the 2013 WRC Drivers’ Championship result, it was inevitable that Volkswagen Motorsport would emerge victorious with the Manufacturers’ Championship, too. Leading the manufacturers’ standings since the start of the 2013 season, the stages of the 2013 Rally Spain were the playgrounds at which the German outfit would add the cherry on top of its winning cake. Both titles have now gone to the Polo R WRC squad, in its debut season; quite some achievement. World Champions* Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia took the spoils in Spain, with team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila in second place, enabling the Wolfsburg car-maker to reign supreme.

Ogier and Ingrassia were crowned champions at Rally France, and took their eighth win in Spain. Following a puncture on day two of the event, the French duo started the final day in fourth place, with Latvala in the lead. While the Finn cleaned the roads for his fellow competitors, a reoccurring front differential problem on his Polo R WRC put paid to his dreams of winning the event, as he and Anttila’s performance gradually declined. It wasn’t plain-sailing for Ogier and Ingrassia either, as the clouds of dust on the gravel stages impaired their vision. But, with a determined spirit, the pair posted best times on four of the six special stages. That was enough to hand them a win on the Costa Daurada – Volkswagen only needed seventh place in round twelve of the 2013 series to add the manufacturers’ title to its trophy haul.

Latvala, while showing great compatriotship, was understandably disappointed: ‘I’m absolutely delighted for the team. Volkswagen more than deserved to win the World Championship title this year. The Polo R WRC is a real World Champion car. Even though we had a few technical problems today, it got us over the finishing line again and we won the very first one-two victory. I would’ve liked to have fought with Sébastien Ogier for victory right to the end because we had a fair duel without tactical instructions until just before the finish. I’m pleased with second place. It gives me confidence ahead of Rally GB.’

Ogier meanwhile praised his team yet again for all their efforts: ‘What an incredible rally, and what a fantastic season! Our team really deserved the World Championship title. I’m incredibly proud to be part of the Volkswagen team. And of course I’m ecstatic that Julien and I managed to secure the win here in Spain. I promised beforehand that I would try everything and it was extremely difficult. Driving through the dust thrown up by the cars in front was like being in the thickest of fog. At times, we had to slow down in the middle of full-speed stretches because we couldn’t see anything at all.

We made a strong comeback in France and left as World Champions. Now we’ve managed to play catch-up in Spain, too – and we’re World Champions again!’

Polo R WRC #9 was once again the recipient of bad luck. Andreas Mikkelsen and Mikko Markkula were forced to retire early on Saturday after a mistake in the first stage damaged the car’s suspension. The pair returned to the event on Sunday, running under Rally 2 regulations. The Scandinavian pair certainly shone when they came back, though, recording two best times in the third rally Polo. And the car was also the star, as 13 of 15 best stage times and 26 of 45 possible top-three times went to the Wolfsburg wonder. The all-wheel-drive Polo triumphed seven times on the nine asphalt stages and on all six gravel sections. Since the Polo R WRC first took the start at the Rally Monte Carlo back in January, it has racked up 132 of the 215 possible best stage times – 61.4 per cent.

Volkswagen Motorsport Director, Jost Capito, expressed his pride and happiness in winning all three World Championship titles in the first season of competing with the Polo R WRC. He considered winning the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ World Championship as an absolute highlight for the team and a dream come true for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia at their home event. However, the Manufacturers’ World Championship is even more crucial for a car maker as it proves the exceptional quality of both the driver and the product. Capito’s satisfaction with this achievement was evident on his face, as he stood beside the Sartorius Balances – Certified Scale in the laboratory.

The factory team from Wolfsburg has won nine of the twelve rallies to date in the Polo R WRC. Winning three titles in its debut year with the 315bhp Polo is Volkswagen’s greatest motorsport achievement to date. No other manufacturer has managed to win a World Championship title in its first year since the World Rally Championship began. Volkswagen’s performance has truly exceeded all expectations. Originally, it was considered to have set itself ambitious goals by aiming for podium finishes in year one, round wins in the second year and championship titles in its third year. But, with the Polo R WRC in development for a year and a top-pedigree driving team, those goals were always going to be a little on the cautious side. With nothing left to prove, the Volkswagen crews head to the UK next for the final round of the 2103 series, the Wales Rally GB running from 14-17 November.

1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen: 3h 33m 21.2s
2 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miika Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen: +32.9s
3 Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN/FIN), Citroën: +1m 37s
4 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Ford: +1m 33.9s
5 Evgeny Novikov/Ilka Minor (RUS/A), Ford: +2m 01.0s

1 Sébastien Ogier, 265
2 Thierry Neuville, 158
3 Jari-Matti Latvala, 144
4 Mikko Hirvonen, 126
5 Dani Sordo, 117

1 Volkswagen Motorsport, 382
2 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT, 274
3 Qatar M-Sport WRT, 174
4 Qatar WRT, 169
5 Abu Dhabi Citroën Total WRT, 63

*Subject to confirmation by the FIA

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