Volkswagen’s title aspirations at the Rally Australia

Volkswagen’s title aspirations at the Rally Australia

06.09.2014: FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) RALLY AUSTRALIA Decider Down Under

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)  RALLY AUSTRALIA

Decider Down Under

-    Second match point: Volkswagen close to defending the world championship title

-    Hard times: Rally Australia is the seventh gravel rally of the year

-    Internal three-way battle: Volkswagen drivers fight for drivers’ championship

Just a small step to the big goal: With their second “match point”, Volkswagen reaches for the title in the manufacturers’ standings of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) at the Rally Australia.

From 11 to 14 September the Volkswagen duos of Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) will also start their internal battle for the drivers’ and co-drivers’ standings Down Under. One thing is already certain: Only a driver of a Polo R WRC can win the title since only the Volkswagen drivers have picked up enough points to be in with a chance.

In keeping with the motto “may the best man win”, there will be no team orders at Volkswagen when the works team from Wolfsburg takes on one of the most challenging and unique rallies of the year. 20 special stages with 315.30 kilometres against the clock are scheduled.

“The Rally Australia is one of the highlights of the year,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “With the current situation in the world championship it has the potential to be particularly exciting in 2014. In the Ogier versus Latvala duel both drivers have been given the go-ahead to fight for victory. We also have a good chance of being able to celebrate winning the manufacturers’ title early.

Last year we won 21 of 22 special stages and started the longest winning streak in the history of the WRC. We’re proud of this. However, it won’t be easy to be successful once again. The Rally Australia has many different challenges and has lots of tricky passages on which it is easy to make mistakes.

At our home rally recently we saw just how quickly a rally can be over. But it’s the big challenges that make for victories that are all the sweeter. We would like to experience the sweet side again this time.”

Match point Down Under: five points needed to win the manufacturers’ world championship

Volkswagen could celebrate winning the manufacturers’ world championship early in Australia. Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala need to pick up five points between them to make the dream come true – if Citroën get a one-two victory that is.

Whatever happens, it is enough if they defend 129 of their current 169 point advantage over the competition. If they manage this it would be a historic victory. If they successfully defend the title in Australia, this would be the earliest that a title has been decided in 25 years – after a good three quarters of the season.

Ogier versus Latvala – a spectacular classic, new edition in Australia

The Ogier versus Latvala duel has had fans on the edge of their seats since the start of the season. Going into the Rally Australia, Sébastien Ogier has a 44 point advantage over his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala in the drivers’ standings of the WRC.

Eight of the nine rallies of the season have been won by one of these two – Ogier has won five, Latvala has won three. However, the perpetual duel has been very much a part of WRC history: Three of the Ogier – Latvala battles are in the ten closest WRC decisions of all time.

In 2011, Ogier beat Latvala by 0.2 seconds in Jordan. In New Zealand in 2010, Latvala was just 2.4 seconds ahead of Ogier. The closest result since both of them have been driving for Volkswagen was at the Rally Finland this year, when Latvala celebrated his home victory over Ogier, winning by 3.6 seconds.

And then there is Mikkelsen – The youngster at the top of his game

Finishing in the top five seven times in nine rallies, with three podium spots – Andreas Mikkelsen is having his best rallying season yet in 2014. The champion of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) in 2011 and 2012 is 77 points off the top and is in third place in the overall standings, behind Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala, and is one of the three drivers who are still in with a mathematical chance of becoming world champion.

The Rally Australia sees the 25-year-old youngster take on another gravel rally – his favourite type of surface. Added to this, Mikkelsen has fond memories of the 2013 Rally Australia, which he finished in sixth place on his debut there.

Typical Rally Australia: speedy country roads, tricky forest tracks

20 special stages, 315.30 kilometres against the clock, three days – the Rally Australia around Coffs Harbour in the state of New South Wales presents itself as a compact challenge. However, the special stages are all of varying character: Country roads that are ultra fast alternate with narrow, twisted routes through dense forests.

Lots of blind entry points make life difficult for the drivers and their co-drivers. The event organisers have saved the most typical special stage of the Rally Australia for Sunday, when the rally action will take place to the north of Coffs Harbour.

“Wedding Bells” in the hilly Wedding Bells State Forest is a demanding 9.23 kilometres against the clock, and the second pass will be the power stage, where the top three are awarded bonus points.

However, the biggest challenge for the participants will be on Saturday, on the southernmost stage of the Rally Australia, the special stage “Nambucca”. At 48.92-kilometres it is the longest special stage of the rally. A major advantage of the Rally Australia is the short distances:

The spectator zones are only between 30 and 60 minutes drive from the centre in Coffs Harbour. The World Rally Cars will drive a total of 632.80 kilometres of liaison stages over the three days.

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Overall Standings
Drivers' Championship        points

1.    Sébastien Ogier    187
2.    Jari-Matti Latvala    143
3.    Andreas Mikkelsen    110
4.    Mads Østberg    74
5.    Mikko Hirvonen    73
6.    Thierry Neuville    73
7.    Elfyn Evans    57
8.    Kris Meeke    54
9.    Martin Prokop     37
10.    Henning Solberg    26
11.    Juho Hänninen    20
12.    Bryan Bouffier    18
13.    Dani Sordo    18
14.    Robert Kubica    12
15.    Ott Tänak     11
16.    Benito Guerra    8
17.    Hayden Paddon    8
18.    Chris Atkinson    6
19.    Pontus Tidemand    6
20.    Jaroslav Melichárek    4
21.    Dennis Kuipers    4
22.    Nasser Al-Attiyah    3
23.    Lorenzo Bertelli    2
24.    Matteo Gamba    2
25.    Craig Breen    2
26.    Yuriy Protasov    2
27.    Jari Ketomaa     1
28.    Karl Kruuda    1
29.    Khalid Al-Qassimi    1
30.    Julien Maurin    0

Manufacturers' Championship        points

1.    Volkswagen Motorsport    305
2.    Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT    138
3.    Hyundai Motorsport    131
4.    M-Sport    128
5.    Volkswagen Motorsport II    109
6.    Jipocar Czech National Team    40
7.    RK M-Sport WRT    21
8.    Hyundai Motorsport N    12

Andre Dietzel, Ingo Roersch, photos Volkswagen


06.09.2014 / MaP

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