Scorching start on Sardinia – Volkswagen leads the Rally Italy

Scorching start on Sardinia – Volkswagen leads the Rally Italy

06.06.2014: FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) RALLY ITALY - Latvala first, Ogier second, Mikkelsen fourth – despite poor starting positions

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)  RALLY ITALY




-    Latvala first, Ogier second, Mikkelsen fourth – despite poor starting positions

-    Loose dust, high temperatures: tough stages kick off round six of the WRC

-    Day of drama – Rally Italy puts man and machine to the test


Handicap cleverly overcome: Volkswagen ended day one of the Rally Italy in first, second and fourth. And that although their positions in the championship meant they were first out onto the route, with all the huge disadvantages that entails.


After a remarkable effort, Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) lead the field in the Polo R WRC. They are followed by Volkswagen team-mates Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Mads Østberg (Citroën) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N, Volkswagen). As first, second and third in the World Championship, the Volkswagen duos were the first three cars onto the stages on the opening leg of the Rally Italy.


A layer of loose sand made these starting positions a major disadvantage, as the conditions improved with every other World Rally Car that swept the roads clean. The risk of making a mistake and crashing out on the narrow and winding stages encountered on the Rally Italy was huge, especially for the early-starters. Of the 15 World Rally Cars that started the rally, only 12 reached the finish on Friday, with several dropping well down the field.


The second loop of the four special stages completed on Friday showed just what a major handicap the road-sweeper effect really was. With the surface clear of much of the loose sand, the trio in the Volkswagen Polo R WRC returned to “Terranova Nord 2”, “Terranova Sud 2”, “Coiluna–Crastazza 2” and “Loelle 2” later on Friday, and promptly clocked eleven of the 12 top-three times.


 Since 2013, the World Rally Car from Wolfsburg has now racked up a total of 504 top-three times over the course of 335 special stages. The Polo R WRC has finished first, second and third on a remarkable 24 special stages in that time.




Quotes after day one of the Rally Italy



Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1


“The start was even tougher than expected: there was no grip, as the loose sand made the surface extremely slippery. Julien and I did everything we could, but in conditions like this you simply have no chance of setting a top time as the first car on the route.


As expected, the afternoon’s second loop was better, and we made the most of the situation with second place overall. I will obviously push and attack again tomorrow.”



Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2


“It was a very good first day for us, and was great fun – no question. Before the rally I would never have expected to be leading today, as our early start position was far from an advantage. We had a soft brake pedal for a while in the morning, but were able to solve that and get through the day without any problems.


 Our lead is pleasing, as it is crystal clear that our team-mates will push hard tomorrow and do their best to catch us. We have to stay cool and continue with the same pace and in the same manner.”



Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9


“Volkswagen had the pleasant problem of being first, second and third onto the route today. That is a definite handicap with the amount of loose gravel there is, and all those starting after us had better conditions. However, that is part of the sport, and we tried to make the most of the situation.


I think we did that, and we now find ourselves well placed for the coming days. It was also my first full day of the rally with Ola Fløene at my side as co-driver. The communication was perfect from the outset and Ola did a perfect job. It is great that Norwegian is the ‘official language’ again in our cockpit. Apropos Norway: we have our sights set on winning the all-Norwegian duel with Mads Østberg again.”



Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director


“A huge compliment goes to our Volkswagen drivers. The start of the Rally Italy was very eventful and full of sporting drama. M-Sport-Ford, Hyundai and Volkswagen all led the rally at times today. It was particularly easy to make mistakes with serious consequences and to damage the car – particularly when, as first, second and third cars on the roads, you are faced with more slippery conditions than any other team.


We not only wanted to limit the amount of time lost, but also to get all three Polo R WRC to the finish in one piece. We never thought we would end the day in first, second and fourth, as the handicap here on Sardinia is particularly significant. All three, Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen, drove very intelligently today.”




And then there was ...


... fireman Ogier. The World Champion was the first man on the scene when the World Rally Car belonging to his rival Mikko Hirvonen (M-Sport-Ford) caught fire on the liaison stage between special stages three and four.


Sébastien Ogier and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia stopped immediately and, together with Hirvonen and his co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen, attempted to put the fire out using the extinguisher on board the Polo R WRC. “Unfortunately it was too late. It is soul-destroying to see a World Rally Car burn out,” said Ogier. The good news was that Hirvonen and Lehtinen emerged unhurt.



Stefan Moser, Andre Dietzel, photos Willy Weyens

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/rally-sardinia-italy-start-volkswagen-leads-latvala-ogier---124093.html

06.06.2014 / MaP

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