Volkswagen carrying momentum into Rally Sweden

Volkswagen carrying momentum into Rally Sweden

06.02.2015: FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) RALLY SWEDEN Ice and snow Rally Sweden an anomaly on the WRC calendar

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)  RALLY SWEDEN



-   Ice and snow – Rally Sweden an anomaly on the WRC calendar

-  Volkswagen duos first, second and third in the World Championship standings

-    One rally, two countries: route takes in new territory in Norway and familiar ground in Sweden



Paradise for fans of the perfect drift: when Volkswagen lines up at the Rally Sweden, it will do so at the only rally of the season to be held completely on ice and snow. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) come into round two of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with the wind in their sails.


The three Volkswagen duos arrive in the recently-covered host region of Värmland on the back of a historic one-two-three for the Polo R WRC at the recent Rally Monte Carlo. As first, second and third in the overall standings, they now have the honour of opening the route.


All three can look back proudly on their past records at the Rally Sweden: Ogier/Ingrassia are the only Central European pairing, besides record champions Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena, ever to have won in Sweden – in 2013 with the Polo R WRC. This also marked Volkswagen’s first success in the WRC.


For Latvala/Anttila, Sweden represents the only round of the WRC, at which they have already tasted victory on three occasions – their maiden success in the World Rally Championship in 2008, 2012 and most recently in 2014 with Volkswagen. Andreas Mikkelsen finished runner-up at the 2014 Rally Sweden to claim his very first podium result at the pinnacle of rallying.



“We have nothing but fond memories of the Rally Sweden and travel there with great anticipation every year,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “You never forget the rally, at which you claimed your very first win as a team. Back in 2013 it was one of our highlights in the World Rally Championship with the Polo R WRC.


Last year we witnessed some thrilling, all-Volkswagen battles for the victory and it was the first time all three of our drivers showed themselves to be on a par and capable of winning – including our ‘junior’, Andreas Mikkelsen, who more than held his own against Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala.


However, all that is history and will once again be going all out to taste success again in 2015. We are undefeated at the Rally Sweden, and would love it to stay that way.”



Power and slides – dream conditions in the forests of Värmland


Welcome to Winter Thunderland: few rallies are as popular with the Volkswagen drivers as the Rally Sweden. The special Sweden spikes on the narrow Michelin tyres generate greater grip on the ice and snow than the crews are used to experiencing on gravel.


Will it be a tyre lottery like the one seen at the Rally Monte Carlo then? No chance. The only option is this one specific type of tyre. The conditions are usually very consistent, giving the drivers plenty of confidence in the grip levels. Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen are right at home on this kind of terrain.


The best news ahead of this year’s Rally Sweden is the weather forecast: heavy snowfall shortly before the Rally Sweden has created dream conditions in the forests of Värmland.


6.5 millimetres for maximum grip: Sweden spikes are a drifter’s best friend


They are the link between the World Rally Cars and the icy, snow-covered rally roads: the new Michelin X-Ice North 3 tyres, which are used exclusively in Sweden. In other words: Sweden spikes, developed from scratch for 2015. They are narrower than their asphalt and gravel counterparts.


 However, the most important feature protrudes 6.5 millimetres from the tread – the 380 spikes that literally bite into the snow and ice. Not only are they capable of withstanding temperatures as low as minus 25 degrees, but also extremely high speeds.


The Rally Sweden is one of the rounds of the World Championship, at which the average speed exceeds the 100 km/h mark. In 2014, the “Rämmen” special stage was the fastest section of the rally, with competitors averaging 117.69 km/h. The drivers return to this stage on the Saturday of this year’s rally, where it forms special stages 12 and 16.



Foray into Norway means a home outing for Andreas Mikkelsen



The 2014 Rally Sweden was the event that emphatically confirmed his arrival amongst the top drivers in the World Rally Championship: Andreas Mikkelsen has high hopes going into his home event, and can count on the passionate support of his fans.


Friday’s route heads out of the Värmland region at rally tempo and over the border into Norway – the home of the 25-year-old Volkswagen driver. Once there, the WRC aces will largely be entering uncharted waters: the “Röjden” special sage, which takes the drivers into Norway, was driven in the opposite direction the last time it featured on the itinerary in 2011.


As such, it is basically a new stage for the drivers and co-drivers. “Finnskogen” is also classed as a new stage: only certain sections of last year’s special stage of the same name are to be tackled this year, and in the opposite direction.


Only “Kirkenær”, which is also held over the border and represents the largest fan arena in the World Rally Championship, with snow piled into huge walls and thousands of spectators, is almost identical to last year.
 




The route in Sweden, on the other hand, is tried and tested: the stages on Saturday and Sunday are virtually unchanged from last year. And why change them?


“Fredriksberg”, “Rämmen”, “Hagfors Sprint”, “Lesjöfors” and “Värmullsåsen” are genuine classics and form the backbone of the Rally Sweden. However, one stage always stands out from the rest: it is hard to imagine the Rally Sweden without “Vargåsen”, which features the infamous “Colin’s Crest”.


The best jumps here are rewarded with the “Colin’s Crest Award” – the trophy named after the ever-courageous Colin McRae. Record holder since 2014: world champion Sébastien Ogier with a distance of 41 metres.



Andre Dietzel, Ingo Roersch, photos Volkswagen

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/volkswagen-momentum-into-rally-sweden-wrc---132422.html

06.02.2015 / MaP

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