Ogier and Polo R WRC win Autosport Award.
A weekend full of accolades: Volkswagen driver Sébastien Ogier was presented with his World Championship trophy at the Prize Giving gala event held by the world motorsport governing body FIA in Vienna, a reward for more dominant performances in the 2016 WRC season. But it did not stop there: he was not able to attend the Autosport Awards in London but was named Rally Driver of the year in his absence. As if that were not enough: the tool of his trade, the Polo R WRC, was also honoured with the “Rally Car of the Year” title.
Seb Ogier was able to use a video link to thank the readers of the renowned trade journal who had voted for him to receive the award: “I am very proud of this. I would like to thank all the Autosport readers. It is a shame that I cannot be there in person but I am currently busy making plans for the future.”
Ogier was up against some serious competition for the award, just as he had been in the recently completed WRC season. Other nominees were the Citroën drivers Kris Meeke and Craig Breen, the Hyundai drivers Thierry Neuville and Hayden Paddon, and Dakar winner Stéphane Peterhansel.
FX Demaison receives award
The Volkswagen Polo R WRC played a very important role in Ogier’s fourth consecutive title win, as the French driver claimed a total of six wins during the season. His team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen, who claimed second place in the World Championship, and Jari-Matti Latvala recorded a further three wins, meaning that Volkswagen triumphed in nine out of 13 rallies.
The award was presented to François-Xavier (FX) Demaison, Technical Director at Volkswagen Motorsport, who was in charge of development for the Polo R WRC. This category also featured some strong competition: the Polo R WRC repeatedly set standards during four years of competition to become the most successful rally car of all time and was up against the Hyundai i20, the Citroën DS 3 WRC – both of which also claimed wins in 2016 -, the Ford Fiesta R2 used by M-Sport, the Skoda Fabia R5 from the WRC2 and the Peugeot 2008 DKR from the Rally Dakar.
Demaison praised Ogier’s performance throughout the year, but also thanked the whole Volkswagen team as the success enjoyed by the Polo R WRC would not have been possible without them.
Trophies for Volkswagen, Ogier and Ingrassia.
Glamorous award ceremony at Hofburg Palace in Vienna: Volkswagen, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia all received trophies for their title victories in the World Rally Championship (WRC) at the prize giving ceremony organised by the FIA, the governing body for world motorsport. This means that Volkswagen has officially won its fourth consecutive manufacturers’, drivers’ and co-drivers’ trophies in the most prestigious motorsport championship for production-based cars.
In addition to WRC victors Ogier/Ingrassia, Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets accepted the prize for the Manufacturers’ Championship and Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger were presented with their awards for finishing third overall in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship. Ogier and Ingrassia won six rallies in the 2016 season in their Polo R WRC, Mikkelsen/Jæger triumphed twice, and the third Volkswagen pairing Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila claimed one win.
What Seb and Julien had to day? Well, take a look:
Volkswagen realigns motorsport programme.
The Volkswagen brand realigns its motorsport programme. From 2017, Volkswagen will focus on new technologies and customer sport. The commitment to the FIA World Rally Championship is coming to an end after four historically successful years, in which Volkswagen won WRC titles in the driver, co-driver and manufacturer rankings in a row with the Polo R.
“The Volkswagen brand is facing enormous challenges. With the upcoming expansion in electrification of our vehicle range we must focus all our efforts on important future technologies. We far exceeded our sporting goals in the WRC, now we are realigning Volkswagen Motorsport and moving the vehicle technology of the future more starkly into focus,” said Frank Welsch, Member of the Board of Management responsible for Technical Development, to about 200 motorsport employees in Hannover. “At the same time, Volkswagen is going to focus more on customer racing. As well as the Golf GTI TCR on the circuit track and the Beetle GRC in rallycross, we also want to offer customers top products and will develop a new Polo according to R5 regulations.”
Started with the 2016 season, the Golf GTI TCR prepared by Volkswagen Motorsport offers a production-derived customer sport vehicle for ambitious drivers and teams committed on global and national levels in the fast growing TCR touring car category. In the USA, Volkswagen of America has successfully entered two Beetle vehicles, developed by Volkswagen Motorsport in Hannover, into the Global Rallycross series and has already prepared them for the 2017 season. Scott Speed won the drivers' title in the popular US series in both 2015 and 2016, and this season the manufacturer's title also went to Volkswagen. The brand will investigate the expansion of these activities on the strength of their existing experience in rallycross. Moreover, in 2017 Volkswagen will begin development of a new rally vehicle in the R5-category based on the next generation Polo and will offer the car to customers to buy from 2018 onwards.
The new vehicle, the Polo, will reap the benefit of the entire experience from the successful WRC commitment, where the factory teams of Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia, Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila and Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jæger competed in 51 rallies with 42 wins and 621 best times in the special stages – no other car in the history of the World Rally Championship has a better success rate. Last weekend, Volkswagen won their fourth manufacturer's title* in a row in the UK World Rally Championship.
“I want to give our heartfelt thanks to our drivers and co-drivers for their outstanding achievements. They are not only unbelievably quick, but also extremely effective ambassadors for the Volkswagen brand. The whole team built around Motorsport Director Sven Smeets has created the basis for this success with the enormous commitment of each individual. We want to continue working with this excellent team and bring about the realignment. In the same way, we will expand the close cooperation between production development and motorsport, which has always shown benefits to both sides in recent years. There is a guarantee of employment for the Volkswagen Motorsport employees,” said Frank Welsch.
Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets explained: “Of course, we regret the departure from the WRC very much – as this was the most successful chapter in the Volkswagen brand's motorsport history. The team has done great things. At the same time, our vision is firmly ahead, because we are aware of the great challenges facing the entire company. We want our realignment to contribute to the success of the Volkswagen brand. From now on, the focus is on upcoming technologies in motorsport and on our customer sports range, where we will position ourselves more broadly and attractively.”
* Subject to ratification of the results by the FIA
Sven Smeets named Volkswagen Motorsport Director.
Volkswagen Motorsport has undergone a restructuring at management level: Sven Smeets (44) will take over as Volkswagen Motorsport Director on 01 September 2016. He succeeds Jost Capito (57), who is leaving the company to pursue a new professional challenge. Lukasz Urban (34) also takes over as Commercial Managing Director from Kirsten Zimmermann (44), who moves into a new management role at Volkswagen AG on 01 September 2016. At the same time, François-Xavier Demaison (47) as Technical Director and Dr. Donatus Wichelhaus (54) as Director of Engine Development move up into the Management Board of Volkswagen Motorsport.
As Volkswagen Motorsport Director, Sven Smeets is responsible for all of the brand’s motorsport activities, including the top-tier involvement in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). The Belgian has been with Volkswagen Motorsport since 2012. He joined the team as Team Manager in the World Rally Championship and took on the role of Sporting Director in the middle of 2016. François-Xavier Demaison also joined Volkswagen in 2012, since when he has been responsible for the technical development of the Polo for the World Rally Championship. As Technical Director since 01 June 2016, he is now also responsible for all Volkswagen’s other car projects within the field of motorsport. Dr. Donatus Wichelhaus has been a member of the management team since 2005. He took over as Director of Engine Development on 01 June, meaning he is now responsible for the development of all Volkswagen engines for motorsport purposes. Andre Dietzel (41, Head of Communications and Marketing), Matthias Meyer (47, Manager of Workshop) and Eduard Weidl (51, Head of Customer Sports) continue in their roles within the Volkswagen Motorsport management team.
Dr. Frank Welsch, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand with responsibility for “Development”: “We are delighted to be able to introduce a man with a vast wealth of management experience at the top of Volkswagen Motorsport, in the form of Sven Smeets. We are confident that we will be able to continue our success story in the World Rally Championship and the strategic development of our motorsport projects with Sven and the rest of the management team at the helm. At the same time, we would like to thank Jost Capito, under whose leadership Volkswagen has won every title on offer in the World Rally Championship for the past three years. We wish him all the best for the future.”
Force majeure: Rally China cancelled following severe storm.
The World Rally Championship will have to wait to return to China: a severe storm recently made large stretches of the route impassable and, in places, destroyed it completely. This made it impossible to hold the tenth round of the season from 08 to 11 September as planned.
“We greatly regret that the intensive preparation put in by the organiser, promoter, FIA and teams, who have worked together to promote the return of the WRC to China, will go unrewarded,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “We would obviously have liked to start in China, and to compete in what is an enormously important market. We will now focus on the WRC returning to China next year.”
The guarantee for success in the background.
Dieter Depping is particularly well-known among German rally fans. The man born in Hannover, who recently turned 50, is one of the most successful German rally drivers. He was German champion three times; in the Ford, Depping dominated national rallying action between 1992 and 1994 and also won countless other national rally events. With three wins, Depping is the second most successful starter at the Rally Germany. Only WRC record winner Sébastien Loeb has done better.
Depping is also known on the international stage; among other rallies, he competed in the world championship events twice in Monte Carlo, San Remo and on Corsica. Depping finished second in the European Championship in 1995.
The Depping-Volkswagen connection came into being in 2001 when he became a works driver for the group from Wolfsburg. The partnership got underway with another success. Depping won Group A of the German Rally Championship in the Golf IV Kit Car. In the years that followed, Depping and his employer Volkswagen went in a new direction: Depping was involved in the development of the Race Touareg and contested the Rally Dakar as a works driver in addition to Jutta Kleinschmidt and Belgian Stéphane Henrard in the Race Tarek. At his side: Timo Gottschalk, with whom he finished in sixth place overall in the new developed Race Touareg II at the Dakar in 2009. In 2007 and 2008, he proved that he is also fast on the circuit. With a Volkswagen Golf GTI and a Scirocco he got one class win and one second place at the 24 Hours Nürburgring.
Volkswagen returned to rallying in 2011. And once again Depping was involved in development. Together with former World Champion Carlos Sainz and Sébastien Ogier he really put the newly developed Polo R WRC, with which Volkswagen entered the World Rally Championship in 2013, to the test. In two years he drove more than half of all of the test kilometres completed. Everyone knows what happened next: Volkswagen and the Polo R WRC dominated international rallying action from 2013 to 2015 and won the world championship titles in all three standings three times in a row.
Another chapter could be added to this success story in 2017. The development of the new Polo R WRC for the 2017 season is currently in full swing. More hp and more spectacular aerodynamics are the biggest innovations in the car of the next WRC generation. Depping also completed the maiden voyage in the new Polo and has driven countless kilometres in the agile rally car since then. "The car is much faster, the overall package feels really good," was Depping's conclusion, whose role mainly involves working on the rough tuning. Depping: "The drivers take care of the fine-tuning."
Depping is generally in action on the Volkswagen testing grounds in Ehra-Lessien. His long-serving co-driver Timo Gottschalk is usually in the passenger seat. Next up is the Rally Germany, where Depping celebrated his greatest successes. So his fingers must get twitchy when he sees the Volkswagen works drivers racing over the narrow streets through the vineyards in "his" Polo R WRC. Right? Depping: "I will never put myself through the stress of a rally again, ever. I much prefer working with the engineers, it is way more relaxed." Even though Depping has disappeared from the spotlight now and is working in the background, his competitive nature hasn't completely vanished. "Sometimes I would really like to know how I compare with our WRC drivers," confessed Depping.
Stanley Cup winner at Volkswagen test in Finland.
Jumps, Stanley Cup winners and surprise visitors – the Volkswagen drivers prepared for the Rally Finland (28 – 31 July) with an eventful test weekend. Test driver Marcus Grönholm (FIN) and the regular driving duos of Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N) all drove the Volkswagen Polo R WRC from the current season and the 2017 car in Jämsä, Finland.
“That was my kind of test,” said Latvala. “The conditions were ideal and we were able to prepare for the numerous jumps that await us at the Rally Finland. The large number of spectators shows once again just how much enthusiasm this country has for rally sport.” Olli Määttä was just as enthusiastic. The Finnish ice hockey pro, who won the Stanley Cup this year with the Pittsburgh Penguins, took a ride in the passenger seat of the Polo R WRC with his compatriot Latvala at the wheel. “That was a unique experience,” said Määttä. “It’s crazy how Jari-Matti has the car under control.” Another Finn provided the biggest surprise of the weekend: rally legend Ari Vatanen dropped in unannounced to pay the Volkswagen team a visit.
“I was only a temporary solution at first.”
For many years, co-driver Miikka Anttila and his compatriot Jari-Matti Latvala have formed one of the strongest duos in the World Rally Championship. This year has not gone entirely to plan so far for the flying Finns, who are pinning their hopes on the second half of the season. They certainly have good cause to be optimistic: in 2015, Latvala and Anttila had again endured a disappointing first half of the season, but then put together a great run of results. Speaking in an interview, Anttila discusses their misfortune this season, his upcoming home race in Finland, and why his cooperation with Latvala was initially only a temporary solution.
The season has not really gone to plan for you so far. You must be pretty disappointed …
Miikka Anttila: Yes, that’s true. People always say there is no such thing as bad luck in motorsport. However, in my opinion, there is no other way of describing what has happened to us in the first few rallies. The drive shaft broke in Sweden – something that had never happened before. Then the power steering broke when we drove over a pothole in Portugal – again, something that we had never experienced in that form before. However, you also have to say that we would have been really quick if these problems had not occurred. As such, the misfortune is obviously very frustrating. However, we can also be happy that the speed is there.
As you say, the speed is there. So, in which areas will you be looking to improve for the second half of the season?
Anttila: The majority of the first half of the season consisted of rallies on coarse and very loose surfaces. We now come to the rallies on more solid surfaces, such as the fast rallies in Finland and Great Britain. I think things will run more smoothly, as these routes tend to suit us better.
Next up is your home rally in Finland. This must be a good opportunity to turn your year around …
Anttila: Yes. Last year, the Rally Finland was the start of a run of good results. However, I don’t want to put myself under any extra pressure now. What will be, will be. In my eyes, however, there is no reason why we shouldn’t do as well as last year.
What makes the Rally Finland so special?
Anttila: It has a very special atmosphere. And it is also the last major event of the summer in Finland. The rally is held on very smooth and hard surfaces. You have to drive very accurately, as the speeds are huge.
In your opinion, what are the perils at the Rally Finland? What must you look out for, and what should you avoid?
Anttila: You should not try to take short cuts at any points that you do not know well. If you cut too much off a corner and, for example, suffer a puncture, you can soon find yourself off the road. The speed you are travelling at means this can have serious consequences. In this case, the impact of a crash is huge.
What is your fondest memory of the rally?
Anttila: The win in 2010 was really outstanding, because it came after a great battle with Sébastien Loeb.
Do you have any less pleasant memories?
Anttila: We have also suffered a few retirements. That obviously hurts twice as much at your home event.
How did you get into rallying?
Anttila: There is a racetrack near my home town, to which I often went with my father. That was the first time I came into contact with motorsport. I went on to study and get a degree in vehicle construction. As such, I always had something to do with cars. When I was about 20, my neighbour started to drive rallies. I was part of his service crew, and subsequently became his co-driver in few rallies. I was actually never that interested in driving myself, but was more interested in the cars themselves and rallying.
How did you take the next step?
Anttila: In 1995, the Finnish Motorsport Federation began coaching rally drivers again. They were also looking for co-drivers. I put my name down and was selected for the coaching. Back then, I never believed I would one day be a professional co-driver.
When did you meet Jari-Matti for the first time?
Anttila: I got to know Jari-Matti through his manager Timo Jouhki, who was also the manager of Mikko Hirvonen back then. I was Mikko’s co-driver in Finland for a season, and also contested a round of the WRC in Italy with him. That was in 2002. The year after, Jari-Matti was racing in the British championship with a British co-driver. They had a pretty horrific crash. Afterwards, Timo asked me if I would stand in as Jari-Matti’s co-driver. It was only meant as a temporary solution at first.
Did you imagine that your partnership would last so long?
Anttila: Back then, I at least knew that there was potential to work together professionally. After that, it was just a case of doing my job as well as possible.
You have known Jari-Matti for many years. Could you describe him in one word?
Anttila: Hmm, that is tricky. However, I would say that he is always very conscientious in everything he does.
Would you describe him as mad about rallies?
Anttila: Yes, that is actually the best way to describe him. He has an incredible passion for this sport.
What was the best moment of your career together so far?
Anttila: I think that this year’s Rally Mexico was our best rally. Everything came together for us, from start to finish. Our starting position obviously played into our hands. However, you still have to take advantage of that position. We did a good job of doing that.
Your job has a lot to do with map-reading and navigating. Was your favourite subject at school geography, by any chance?
Anttila (laughs): No, my favourite subject was actually mathematics. I also liked Finnish.
What do you do when you are not preparing for a rally? Do you do a lot of sport?
Anttila: I try to stay in shape, in order to cope with the physical demands of rallying. I also spend a lot of time with my two children. However, I also try to do some sport in the short breaks. In the summer I go cycling, play golf or get out on my inline skates. In the winter I enjoy skiing and cross-country skiing.
You often take your families with you to rallies. How important is it for you to have them there?
Anttila: It is lovely. They get to travel around and also to know the places I work. That is very nice.
Would you be happy if one of your children was to turn to you and say “Daddy, I want to be a rally driver or co-driver”?
Anttila: I would not have anything against it. However, I would want them to make their own way in the sport.
What job would you have, if you had not become a rally co-driver?
Anttila: I would probably work in the Finnish automobile industry.
All info on Miikka Anttila.
Jägermeister to celebrate.
Ting. Ting. Ting. Silence please, the man has something to say. Anders Jæger is urged to make a speech, as this moment only comes along once in your career. The occasion: the final team dinner of the 2016 Rally Poland. A quiet restaurant in the port of Mikolajki, a witty end to a surprisingly successful round of the World Rally Championship – thanks to these words.
He has been made to feel like a member of the family from the word go, and treated as though he had always been a part of the team. So many team members work so hard to allow him and his driver Andreas Mikkelsen to do their job perfectly – something he is incredibly grateful for.
And then there is the man in the driver’s seat, Andreas Mikkelsen: friend for over 15 years, somebody Jæger has actually shared a flat with, and with whom he recently ran 82 kilometres uphill and downhill at the Trail Run on the Zugspitze … – it is at this point that that very Andreas Mikkelsen seizes the moment and interrupts the speech of his right-hand man in the Polo R WRC. “Did you know,” he asks the team, “we have always been competitive, Anders and I. One of us always had to be better than the other at sport. We always wanted to prove ourselves against each other.” After a brief pause, he has a message for Anders Jæger. “There is, however, one thing I will probably always have the upper hand in. I have one more win to my name than you.”
And so it is: Andreas Mikkelsen – victory in Spain in 2015 and the recent win in Poland in 2016. Anders Jæger? Victory in Poland in 2016. 2:1 to Andreas. The response comes immediately: “Well, at least you are better at one thing then,” laughs Anders Jæger before buying a round to celebrate his maiden win.
Jägermeister for everyone. With that name, it simply had to be.
Rally Polo and Latvala delight at cult festival in Goodwood.
Volkswagen rally driver Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) was in action at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. He completed the legendary hill climb in the south of England several times in the Volkswagen Polo R WRC – sometimes with VIP guests on board. "Goodwood is unique," said Latvala. "The spectators are close and the atmosphere is always magnificent. It is fantastic to see so many famous racing cars and production cars from various eras on one weekend. It brings you joy as a racer. I would love to return." Volkswagen representative Hans-Joachim Stuck (D) also took the wheel at the cult event. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the GTI, he took control of a racing version of the first Golf GTI with a 16-valve engine. Also in action at Goodwood: The new Golf GTI Clubsport S – with 310 hp, the most powerful series GTI of all time.
Salomon Zugspitz Ultratrail: Mikkelsen und Jæger run 82 kilometres of the ultra-distance.
“We love challenges,” said Volkswagen rally driver Andreas Mikkelsen to wrc.com. And they take on the challenges too. Together with co-driver Anders Jæger, Mikkelsen took part in the Zugspitz Ultratrail marathon, sponsored by Volkswagen Motorsport supplier Salomon. The two Norwegians set off on Saturday to tackle the ultra-distance of 101.6 kilometres – in one go – around the Zugspitze, the highest peak in Germany. What an adventure: especially as Mikkelsen admitted that his previous longest run this year had been just 13 kilometres.
“I’m not sure which one of us came up with this stupid idea, but we challenged each other to try and make the finish,” joked Mikkelsen before the run. At 07:15 on Saturday morning, Mikkelsen and Jæger started out from Grainau on a sodden and muddy route. 101.6 kilometres, climbing 5,412 meters. 40 kilometres in, they were still looking remarkably fresh and sent a video message from the Alps.
However, things looked very different after another 42 kilometres. “Unfortunately, Anders and I had to stop after 82 kilometres,” said Mikkelsen. Their knees and joints were hurting as a result of the unfamiliar exertions during the marathon. “Despite this, I am proud that we made it so far in these weather conditions. Although we did not manage the full 101.6 kilometres, the scenery was incredible. The first few kilometres were particularly great, when we ran with the front-runners.” The front-runner was German runner Thomas Farbmacher, who crossed the finish line first at the sixth Salomon Ultratrail Zugspitz.
“I admire the athletes who ran those great times,” said Mikkelsen. For Mikkelsen and Jæger, the marathon was an extreme form of preparation – after all, they ran more than the 59.60 kilometres of special stage that await them and the Volkswagen Polo R WRC on the final day of the Rally Poland (30 June to 3 July). “I will now take a break from running,” says Mikkelsen, who has had enough of marathons for now.
Welcome to the world, Tim Kaiser-Ogier!
Sébastien Ogier finished the Rally Italy with a win on the Power Stage on Sunday, and soon after that the World Rally Champion was back in Munich with his wife Andrea Kaiser-Ogier for the birth of their first child. Their baby, who came into the world on Monday, is called Tim.
The proud parents shared the happy news on their social media channels on Tuesday morning: "50% Mummy + 50% Daddy & made with 100% LOVE. We couldn't be happier". And the timing of the couple, who have been together since 2013 and married since 2014, was world champion. Even before he got going on Sardinia, Ogier had said that if his wife went into labour, he would be heading straight back to Germany.
The expectant father was in daily contact with his wife via mobile phone. But Tim was good and waited for the end of the rally, at which Ogier got the best time on the Power Stage and returned to Germany with third place.
The new parents have a bit of time to get used to their new life as a family of three before the next round of the WRC at the Rally Poland (30 June - 3 July). Now Ogier will be changing nappies instead of tyres. Rumour has it that he spent a lot of time practising and already gets best times in this new discipline.
The mountain is calling: Ogier contests the Kitzbühel Alpine Rally.
He cannot stop, even on a weekend off. Sébastien Ogier took part in the Kitzbühel Alpine Rally at the weekend. Like last year, the Volkswagen WRC driver drove a 136 hp "Salzburg Beetle" through the picturesque Alpine landscape at the 29th edition of the classic.
"My good, dear friend Striezel asked if I wanted to take part again," said Ogier. "And since I had so much fun last year, I said yes." Naturally he means Volkswagen representative Hans-Joachim Stuck when he says "Striezel". The motorsport legend competed together with his two sons Johannes and Ferdinand, news anchor-man Jan Hofer and actor Jan Hartmann. And it didn't take much for Stuck to convince Ogier.
"The Kitzbühel Alpine Classic is a fantastic event, and in a beautiful setting," said Ogier. "You can't get better than that!" And as befitting of a three-time World Rally Champion, Ogier planned everything meticulously. He arrived at the starting gate at 08:03 a.m., and less than three minutes later was sat at the wheel of the Beetle 1302 S Rally "Salzburg" and drove off. His co-driver this time around was George Keller, former speaker of the luxury car department at Bugatti's parent group Volkswagen.
Last year, Ogier's wife Andrea Kaiser accompanied him. This time, she stopped by in the lunchbreak, but otherwise took it easy, after all, the heavily pregnant TV presenter and Ogier are expecting their first child soon. And it was also a relaxed way for Ogier to prepare, before he returns to action next weekend. Instead of cruising over Alpine streets in the Beetle, he will be tearing across Sardinia's gravel tracks at top speed in the Polo R WRC at the Rally Italy (09–12 June).
How to become … a rally co-driver?
"I'm a young co-driver with a little bit of experience and would like to become the co-driver of Sébastien Ogier, who won the finale of the Rally Jeunes." – That's how it started. As unconventional as Julien Ingrassia's application sounds today, it also makes one thing extremely clear: There isn't a single path to becoming the co-driver of a rally driver. Many paths lead to the co-driver seat... and some even lead to the championship title.
How did you become interested in motorsport?
I didn't develop a passion for motorsport and rallying that early on in my life. My head was full of other things as a 14-year-old. Then, at the age of 16, I started to become interested in motorsport. At that age you start to think about getting a driving license. Then the rest follows automatically. I became more and more interested in engines and racing cars, and dreamed of my first car.
How did you end up in a World Rally Car?
When I was 15 or 16, one of my friends was a co-driver and I followed him through the whole of France with my backpack from rally to rally. At some point he asked me if I wanted to sit in a rally car as a co-driver myself. Then in November 2002 it was time: There was no suitable co-driver for his second car, and he offered me the spot. I told him that I didn't have any experience and that it was a very difficult rally. But he said that the driver didn't have much experience either and just wanted to make it to the finish line. I'll never forget how much adrenalin my body produced at that time – it was a real adventure. But we actually did make it to the finish line without any serious incidents. That was my first rally.
Then what happened?
After that, I was a co-driver for a friend in some national championships in France for three years. By the way, this friend still visits me at the rallies. Back then our car was a small Peugeot 205 GTI. It took many years to build because there wasn't enough money. Which made our smiles all the broader when we finally drove our first special stage (he laughs).
Did you always compete with the same driver back then?
When I have a good feeling about a driver, I don't switch drivers. I've always been like that. If the chemistry is there, then the results are also usually there.
Have you ever thought about taking the wheel yourself?
A lot of people have asked me that. But honestly, no. I do enjoy driving a rally car, but just for fun. They are two totally different worlds. But the co-driver is as important for good performances as the driver. The great thing about rallying is that you can share your successes with the person next to you. That is something special.
Were you able to make a living from rallying at that time?
Not really. Back then I worked in sales for an international market leader in soft drinks. It was about that time that I also became aware of the FFSA Rally Jeunes (editor's note: Junior competition organised by the French governing body of automobile racing). I remember the day exactly. It was a normal working day. Okay, maybe I didn't gain as many customers for the company on that day, which meant that I had time to watch the finale of the Rally Jeunes. There were 20 competitors in the finale. And only the best two boys and the fastest girl received a wild card for the entire rally season. At that moment it was clear to me that these three would get a spot in the cockpit, but didn't have co-drivers yet. That was the first day that I saw Sébastien in action. Admittedly, at that point I didn't know that it was Seb (he laughs). But what I did notice was that this striking driver had an extremely courageous style of driving and braked extremely late. I instantly saw that he drives very aggressively, but not stupidly, rather with great intelligence. Based on this, I sent a letter to Peugeot Motorsport and applied to be his co-driver.
What was your application like?
"I'm a young co-driver with a little bit of experience and would like to become the co-driver of Sébastien Ogier, who won the finale of the Rally Jeunes." Something like that. The reply was very quick, and they gave me his mobile number to arrange a meeting, which took place in January 2006. It was a little bit like a date (he laughs).
Where did you meet Ogier?
I met him in his home city of Gap one evening. It was winter, and there was a lot of snow outside. If I remember rightly, Seb was only 22 and I was 26 years old. We met at his parents' house, introduced ourselves and then ate dinner together. Then he suggested that drive into the city centre together to go for drinks with a few of his friends. But we didn't get that far because I discovered an old Renault 11 Turbo with spikes as front tyres in his garage. Then we spent the rest of the evening messing around with the Renault (he laughs).
Then what happened?
The next major success was competing in the Junior WRC with Citroën in 2008. From that point on, we drove in rallies throughout France. And then abroad soon after. My first rally outside of France was the 2008 Rally Mexico. That was a bit of a culture shock for me. No one speaks your language the other side of the Atlantic and you barely understand a thing. We were Junior World Champions at the end of the season, and were allowed to compete in the WRC a year later. And the rest of the story is well-known.
Julien Ingrassia and Sébastien Ogier are a double act. They line up together at every WRC event. The French duo have made 102 starts in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) to date. They have won 34 rallies together so far, 27 of which were with Volkswagen. They have been on the podium in the WRC 50 times. And the two of them are also busy making history when it comes to stage best times: Ogier/Ingrassia have won 434 stages in their WRC career.
All info on Julien Ingrassia.
“We never get to put our feet up.”
Always well organised, and always with a joke on his lips. It is hard to imagine Volkswagen Motorsport without Lutz Mayer, who is responsible for logistics in the World Rally Championship. He ensures that the Polo R WRCs, all the spare parts and the entire team hospitality arrive safely and above all punctually at the next venue on the WRC calendar.
Trucks are used for the rallies within Europe, whilst all the equipment is shipped to overseas rallies well ahead of time by sea or, closer to the date, air freight. “Overseas, we start assembling things on the Saturday before the rally,” says Lutz. “You never know what may have happened to the contents whilst in transport. We are always a bit nervous about that. If we start early enough, we still have a bit of leeway. Everything is usually up and standing by the Tuesday.”
Eight containers are in transit all year round for the team from Hannover. Five AMP containers contain components, of which only a limited amount will actually be used at a rally. “These components are used at the overseas rallies and those in Europe,” says Lutz. The remaining three rallies are dealt with using AMF containers, which are loaded with equipment for all the overseas rallies and sent on their way by boat before the start of the season.
Well prepared for newcomer China.
In September 2016, the WRC teams will face a new challenge, in the form of the Rally China. In contrast to the other overseas rallies, the event in the Middle Kingdom will take place on asphalt. A logistical challenge that Lutz and his crew of six are confident they can overcome.
“We are sending an additional container to China, with rims for the asphalt set-up,” says Lutz. “The container with the spare parts from Argentina is sent back to Germany by air freight, and is then loaded with the parts for the asphalt set-up in China.”
Stressful final spurt in the WRC, followed by a short winter break.
Things get really stressful when the World Rally Championship enters the finishing straight. October features three rallies in four weeks – France, Spain and Great Britain. This is enough to push even the supremely-organised logistics experts at Volkswagen to the limit. “We have planned everything thoroughly, but October is still going to be tough. We will hardly have time to catch a breath. We must practically get the material from one rally to the next.”
Strict quarantine regulations, particularly in Australia, mean extra work for the logistics department. Lutz: “The material must be absolutely squeaky clean. You practically have to pull every fly out of the car’s radiator. If you have masking tape on the outside of the container, it must be taped over again with extra tape, because a fly could lay its eggs there. Countries put these measures in place to protect themselves from epidemics.”
Even after the season, Meyer and Co. barely have time for a breather. There are less than eight weeks between the Rally Australia and the season-opener in Monte Carlo. This does not make for a peaceful Christmas break. “We use the breaks to sort out any open issues,” says Lutz, who has been working for Volkswagen Motorsport for 17 years. “For example, we recently used the break before the Rally Argentina to get new tractor units. We had to register them and unregister the old ones. There is always something to do. We never get to put our feet up.”
Jæger: “Our goal is absolute perfection.”
A podium in Monte Carlo – Anders Jæger made history at his first rally as co-driver to Andreas Mikkelsen. In the first part of an interview, he speaks about his experiences and impressions from the first three rallies, his goals with Volkswagen, and working with Andreas.
A podium, a fourth place and a retirement in Mexico: you have already been through a lot during your brief time alongside Andreas Mikkelsen. What are your impressions so far?
Anders Jæger: I think there are so many positive things looking at the start of the season. We are still third in the championship, although the last two rallies did not pan out as we had hoped. The other positive thing is the team. Everybody at Volkswagen has been incredible to me – so helpful and friendly. They are so professional. Everyone is doing his best to ensure that Andreas and I can perform well. It is so great to be part of such a professional team as Volkswagen, and that gives you a lot more motivation. Andreas and I want to give something back to the team by performing as well as we can at every rally.
You achieved that with second place at the first round of the season, the Rally Monte Carlo. Did you expect such a strong result?
Jæger: I wouldn’t say that we expected it. But we knew that we could be quite fast and among the top drivers – that was clear to us at the tests. Of course, you cannot compare a full rally with a test.
After that, however, things did not run so smoothly in Sweden and Mexico. Do you have an explanation for that, or was it just bad luck?
Jæger: I wouldn’t say bad luck. Given the season Andreas had in 2015, we set ourselves the goal of increasing our pace, whilst at the same time performing consistently. Of course, the faster you go, the more risk is involved. We really wanted to challenge Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. We were looking good to do just that on day one. It would have been very difficult to avoid the first off in Sweden, given there was something akin to a lake on the stage, which we were not aware of. After that we tried to up the pace. With a little more luck we could have had a better result, but when you push you have to accept the consequences.
You have been sharing a cockpit again since the start of the year. How is the teamwork with Andreas?
Jæger: The chemistry in the car is getting better and better. We want to take one small step at a time, and I believe it is always important to think in small steps. We obviously want to increase the pace and to challenge Seb and Julien, but we also know that they are incredibly fast and have the utmost respect for them. It is important not to be overeager.
Before your debut in Monte Carlo you said that the pace would be one of the biggest differences to WRC3. Would you still say the same after the first three rallies?
Jæger: Yes. The level of competition is higher and margins are even smaller. You are punished even more severely if you do not do a perfect job. The higher the pace, the more precise you have to be in everything you do. Our goal is absolute perfection.
Next up is the Rally Argentina. In your opinion, what is special about this rally – particularly for you as a co-driver?
Jæger: As in Mexico, one of the biggest challenges for me is that I have never raced there before. That does not mean that I cannot do a good job there. Andreas has always had good pace there, but the odd mistake here and there have cost him good results.
There are a few rallies on the calendar that are completely new to you. How do you prepare for them? What data can you call on?
Jæger: Long before I joined Andreas I spent many hours watching on-board footage of Andreas and Ola Fløene. I also have the pace notes from the past couple of years. They give me an insight into the possible peculiarities and challenges that could await me at a rally.
To what extent are you able to read and use Ola Fløene’s pace notes from recent years?
Jæger: I could read them whilst driving, but it would certainly not be perfect. For this reason, I “translate” them. I write them in my own way so that they suit the rhythm of Andreas and me.
Looking at the whole season, is there anything you are particularly looking forward to?
Jæger: The Rally Germany will obviously be very special for Volkswagen, and for us. A home rally is always a bit special. In a way, though, I’m looking forward to every Rally.
Jæger: “I went ‘all in’!”
He is the new boy in the Volkswagen team. Since the start of this season, Anders Jæger has taken his place in the passenger seat alongside Andreas Mikkelsen. Not so long ago, this was something he had never even dreamed of. He was already pursuing a different career altogether before he went ‘all in’ to become a co-driver. In part two of the interview, Anders Jæger chats about his life before motorsport, the first few metres in Monte Carlo, and one evening on the games console that changed everything.
In comparison with other drivers and co-drivers in the WRC, you came into the sport relatively late. How would you describe your life before that?
Anders Jæger: Before I came into motorsport, I studied economics in Oslo. I have always been interested in sport, and have played an incredible amount of sport. At times, I was doing five of six different sports at the same time. I’m not sure whether that is the best way to go about it ...
What do you mean by that?
Jæger: I consistently improved and developed in the various different sports. At some point I realised I was good at a number of sports, but not extremely good at any of them. My dream was always to earn a living through sport. That was no longer realistic, so I started studying. If I hadn’t become a co-driver, I would probably have ended up in an office doing a normal nine-to-five job.
Can you still imagine doing that, maybe after your time in motorsport?
Jæger: I have not really considered that yet – it is far too early to think about that kind of thing. You can think about it as much as you want, but you never know what the future holds in store, and which doors will open and which won’t. Therefore, I think that would be a waste of time at the moment.
How did you end up as a co-driver? Or, in other words: how does one go about becoming a co-driver?
Jæger: I don’t know whether there is a classic way to become a co-driver, but I guess mine was certainly unusual. I never dreamed of being a co-driver, and never even considered it. Ultimately, it was Andreas who got me into motorsport.
Jæger: He was looking for a co-driver.
And he wanted you?
Jæger: The relationship between a driver and a co-driver is something very special. You absolutely have to trust each other 100 per cent. At the same time, the market for co-drivers is not a particularly big one, so Andreas took a new approach. He wanted to educate a co-driver by his own. We had known each other for a few years. During this time, we learned that we are very similar in many ways. For example, we think the same way, share the same interests, and both love to compete.
Do you still remember when he asked you to be his co-driver?
Jæger: Of course. It’s hard to forget something like that. We were sat in his flat in Oslo, playing on the PlayStation. He said: ‘Do you want to be my co-driver?’ I was not sure how serious he was being. I was quite quick with my answer, and said: ‘Yes, sure. Just tell me where and when and I will be there.’
Was it just a joke then?
Jæger: Yes and no. We chatted more about it that same evening, and considered whether it would be possible – and how. I believed I could do it, although I knew it would take a lot of work.
What were the next steps?
Jæger: We sat down together again and discussed everything more seriously. At some point, we then started an initial test, just to see whether it was at all realistic, and whether I had a good feel for reading the pace notes. That was the first step on my journey with Andreas. I stopped studying and went ‘all in’.
What a story and what a daring plan. What does that say about Andreas?
Jæger: A lot. This plan may seem a bit crazy now, but when Andreas sees a way of improving something, he goes after it. He really believes in the things he does. I think this is a pretty good way to approach the things. You have to think outside the box and be creative.
Given this story, how did it feel to line up together for the first time in Monte Carlo?
Jæger: It is impossible to describe how it felt. Incredibly exciting. My pulse was racing and I just thought to myself: ‘There’s no going back now.” The fact that we finished second was obviously fantastic. We were extremely happy when we crossed the finish line at the end of the Power Stage.
Latvala: “It will be better from now on.”
After a demanding start to the 2016 WRC season, Jari-Matti Latvala speaks about how he approaches the upcoming events – especially Rally Mexico – and how he manages to stay positive in spite of his current zero-points total in the drivers’ championship.
With Rally Monte Carlo and Rally Sweden in the books, what is your view of the season so far?
Jari-Matti-Latvala: It was absolutely not what I was hoping for. For the Rally Monte Carlo I wanted have a solid start to the season, to have a consistent run, not to take any big risks. Midway through the rally it was all looking good. But then the Monte showed that it can be very demanding and that things can change very quickly. I went off the track and damaged my suspension. Then I had an electrical problem as well. We were able to fix both but were running out of time and could not continue the rally. That was obviously pretty frustrating.
A challenging season opener indeed. Sweden was next …
Latvala: I tried to stay positive for Sweden. I thought we would be in a position to fight for the victory because in the past Sweden had been one of my stronger events. But it all went wrong from the first stage. On a small jump the driveshaft broke. With no designated service on this first day, we only had rear-wheel drive and were losing a lot of time. However, it was positive that I was able to set a quick pace on Saturday when I won some stages. That was good for my self-confidence. But as a matter of fact: At the moment I have collected zero championship points.
How do you deal with this? Do you think about it a lot or do you scratch it and say: “This happens and we move on”?
Latvala: No driver can have a perfect season. Nobody can have a fantastic weekend on all of the 14 rally events. Everyone has problems at some point. This is part of motorsport. The question is how much do these issues influence your performance. I have had some bad luck lately and made a few mistakes but I stay positive. Of course, it always looks bad when you have two bad results in a row, especially at the beginning of the season when there is so much focus on everybody’s performance. But I am sure it will be better from now on. And the trophies will be presented at the end of the season, not at the beginning.
Your current position in the drivers’ standings moves you to a lower starting position for Rally Mexico. Is this an advantage for you?
Latvala: Mexico is the first gravel event of the season and the Mexican roads are normally pretty hard. But on top of the hard surface there is often a layer of fine gravel which makes the roads pretty slippery. The more cars run on the road, the cleaner and faster the roads get. It is definitely an advantage to start later into the stage – but only if it is not raining. That is possible in Mexico but usually very unlikely.
Is your road position for Mexico also something positive after the rough start to the season?
Latvala: Yes, I think that is quite positive. The current starting order rule helps in this situation because now I have the chance to bounce back.
So what is your goal for Mexico?
Latvala: To have a trouble-free rally. Everything else will fall into place when you manage to stay away from trouble.
How do you relax after challenging events?
Latvala: I actually find it quite relaxing taking part in historic rallies. I have so much fun driving historic rally cars with no pressure at all. It is just about bringing the joy back for the WRC events.
Do you analyse your performance with your co-driver Miikka Anttila as well?
Latvala: We try not to analyse too much between the rallies. We do that on the road sections or while we are travelling. When we are at home we have short phone calls, just ask each other how things are going. We don’t want to waste each other’s spare time. At home we prefer going out to watch ice hockey matches or things like that.
In Sweden we saw you hitting your chest or slapping your thighs right before the start of some of the stage. Is this some new technique to get you motivated?
Latvala: It is basically to get me into the competition mode again after some long road sections when you may get a bit tired. It is just about getting you mind and muscles re-activated. You will probably see this in Mexico and throughout the rest of the season too.
New addition to the Ogier household: “My biggest wish come true”.
“#2become1” – it was with this hashtag that World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier announced his happy news on Facebook. He is going to be a dad! His wife Andrea Kaiser, who he married in the summer of 2014, is five months pregnant.
As such, Seb had two reasons to celebrate at the opening round of the WRC season in Monte Carlo. Things are also looking bright on a professional front for the flying Frenchman. Ogier won the “Monte” for the third time in a row and leads the World Championship again with 28 points.
In Formula One, the rumour persists that a driver becomes one tenth of a second slower per baby. If this is the case, Seb Ogier can afford a few more children: he ended the “Monte” with a lead of almost two minutes over his closest rival Andreas Mikkelsen.
New Challenge: Capito is to leave Volkswagen.
Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito is to leave the company by mutual agreement during the course of this year to take on a new professional challenge. The 57-year-old took over as Motorsport Director at Volkswagen in May 2012 and led the works team to three FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) titles in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Jost Capito will continue to perform the duties of Motorsport Director until such time as his successor at Volkswagen Motorsport GmbH has been appointed. The engineering graduate began working for the Volkswagen Group in 1989, joining Porsche’s racing department. Following an executive post with the Sauber Formula 1 team (from 1996), Capito moved to Ford in 2001, where among other things he held responsibility for motorsport activities and the performance vehicle business.
Over to You, Anders Jæger.
From rally fan to rally co-driver in just three years – and for one of the top teams. That is the equivalent of going from 0 to 60 in record time, and this dream has become reality for Anders Jæger. In 2016 he will take his place as the co-driver for Andreas Mikkelsen in the Volkswagen Polo R WRC, replacing Ola Fløene, who has moved on to become co-driver for Mads Østberg.
Ola will not be an easy act to follow, as he was alongside Mikkelsen for the driver’s first WRC victory in 2015. 26-year-old Anders – one month younger than Andreas – has skipped a competition category. In 2015, he competed in the Junior WRC and WRC3 championships, in which he navigated compatriot Ole Christian Veiby around the world championship routes. The reward at the end of the year was second place in the overall JWRC rankings.
The promotion to the WRC came a little earlier than expected, but had been planned for some time. “The original plan was for me to move up to WRC in 2017, as Andreas’ co-driver,” says Anders. “But Ola’s switch gave me the chance to do so earlier. Andreas and I had already decided to work as a team, so this is a logical step, even if it has come surprisingly quickly.”
Friends in the Cockpit.
Anders and Andreas were introduced to one another by mutual acquaintances in Oslo, nearly nine years ago. They quickly formed a close friendship, to the extent that they have holidayed together many times with this group of friends. It was also Andreas who introduced Anders to rallying. “I started to take an interest in this sport three years ago, as Andreas was competing in his first season for Volkswagen,” says Anders. “In 2014, I became co-driver for Bernt Kollevold and then for Ole Christian Veiby in the Norwegian championship. I learned a lot there and have continued to develop my skills.”
In December, Anders was involved in his first tests with Andreas and the Polo R WRC. The results reflected the chemistry between the two. “Andreas and I are very similar,” says Anders. “The way we think is similar, as is the way we deal with things. This is why we believe that we will form a very strong team in the future.”
No Fear of Fast Cars.
The promotion from the Junior WRC to the pinnacle of the WRC will require some adjustment for Anders. However, the youngster from Oslo does not feel pressured by respect or fear, probably because he has gathered plenty of rally experience in the Junior WRC.
“The step up to the WRC seems huge on paper,” says Anders. “But everything went great during the winter tests with Andreas.” The biggest difference? Anders: “You have to read the notes a lot quicker in the WRC, as everything happens at a faster pace.”
The First Racing Driver in the Family.
Anders’ family is interested in his career but it is really just his father who is an avid rally fan. “He thinks what I am doing is fantastic,” says Anders, the first member of his family to be actively involved in motorsport. “My mother is always worrying about me. She follows my results but she just can’t watch any on-board footage.”
Harmony in the cockpit and no fear of new challenges. These prerequisites are in place and nothing should stand in the way of a successful 2016. However, Anders is reluctant to make too many predictions: “It would be nice to carry on where Andreas and Ola left off. But maybe you should ask me again after Rally Monte Carlo. Let’s see how things go for us there.”
Volkswagen completes tests ahead of opening round of the WRC at the Monte.
Prepared as in the previous two years: Volkswagen has been hard at work preparing for its outing at the Rally Monte Carlo with the world championship-winning Polo R WRC and its three driver/co-driver pairings. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N) completed roughly 1000 test kilometres in total over the course of the six-day test on the outskirts of Gap, in the French Maritime Alps. The tests focussed on set-up work and tyre tests with the Polo R WRC, which boasts the highest win ratio in the history of the World Rally Championship. The World Rally Car from Wolfsburg kicks off its fourth WRC season with the Rally Monte Carlo from 21 to 24 January. Since 2013, Volkswagen has won all nine possible World Championship titles, and has emerged triumphant at 34 of the 39 rallies. In 2014 and 2015, the three Volkswagen duos also monopolised the top three positions in the World Championship standings.
“The Rally Monte Carlo is truly legendary, for many different reasons,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “The ever-changing weather conditions, which fluctuate between ice, snow, rain and dry conditions, make the rally precisely what Monaco is renowned for: a gamble. Furthermore, it is the first rally on the WRC calendar, meaning all the drivers, co-drivers and manufacturers start with zero points. Everyone wants to make the best possible start to the new season and take as much momentum as possible into the coming rallies. As such, tests are of great importance, in order to prepare for the tough tasks ahead. For the third time in a row, we go into the season as the team to beat, and we will be up against stronger opponents than before: Hyundai has a new car, while M-Sport-Ford has strengthened its squad of drivers and co-drivers. As such, we go into the season with heightened senses – and, thanks to the tests, with sufficient experience for the Monte.”
Taste of things to come at the ever-unpredictable “Monte” – Tests on the outskirts of Gap
Ice and snow on the one hand, freezing rain, black ice or even shiny, dry asphalt on the other – conditions at the Rally Monte Carlo are always anything but predictable. Despite a lack of snow, the tests on and around the Col de Perty near the town of Laborel were worth their weight in gold, as the team looked to adapt to at least a few of the conditions to be expected in January. The three driver/co-driver duos trialled set-up variants for the Polo R WRC and tested various combinations of the Michelin tyres to be used next year. The tests took place about 70 kilometres outside Gap, where the Rally Monte Carlo will be held from 21 to 24 January.
Three pairs of test days for Ogier, Latvala, Mikkelsen and their co-drivers
Two test days for Sébastien Ogier, two for Jari-Matti Latvala and two for Andreas Mikkelsen – the men who finished first, second and third in the 2014 and 2015 world championships. And at their side, their co-drivers for the 2016 season: Julien Ingrassia, who forms his usual partnership with Sébastien Ogier, Miikka Anttila as Jari-Matti Latvala’s trusty navigator, and Anders Jæger, who will make his competitive debut in the Polo R WRC alongside Andreas Mikkelsen at the Monte. This was Jæger’s second outing, following the tests for the Rally Sweden at the end of November.
New co-driver: Andreas Mikkelsen in Polo R WRC with Anders Jæger.
Andreas Mikkelsen will compete in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with a new co-driver: he will henceforth be given his instructions by the 26-year-old Norwegian Anders Jæger, who is advancing from the Junior WRC straight to the top WRC category. Jæger therefore follows in the footsteps of fellow Norwegian Ola Fløene, who is leaving the Volkswagen team at his own request with a great deal of success under his belt. Mikkelsen achieved 13 of his 14 podium finishes in the World Rally Championship with Fløene at his side – including his highly acclaimed first rally win at Rally Spain in 2015.
Three WRC trophies for Volkswagen.
Glamour and glory for the three-time world champions: Volkswagen, Sébastien Ogier (F) and Julien Ingrassia (F) received trophies for their title wins in the World Rally Championship (WRC) at the grand award ceremony hosted by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) at the world-famous Lido on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris. The trophies in the manufacturers’, drivers’ and co-drivers’ categories in the most prestigious production-based automobile world championship have therefore officially gone to Volkswagen for the third consecutive year. The Polo R WRC likewise made a grand appearance in front of the event’s 2,000 guests. The movers and shakers of the world of motorsport all marvelled at the 318 hp World Rally Car which has won 34 of the 39 rallies it has tackled to date, making it the most successful model in the history of the WRC. Awards were presented not only to the world champions Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), but also to their Volkswagen teammates Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), who came second and third respectively overall in the 2015 WRC.
“The grand FIA gala is always the icing on the cake at the end of a long and arduous year,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “No other motorsport world championship has such a long season as the WRC, which runs from January to November. And nowhere are the technical and sporting challenges greater than in the WRC, with rallies held on gravel, asphalt, and ice and snow. It’s a great relief and a fantastically proud feeling to accept the trophies for the manufacturers’ championship and for the top three positions in the drivers’ and co-drivers’ championships too. We can look back on our most successful season to date in the World Rally Championship, but are also already in the midst of preparing for the next season, which starts six weeks after the FIA gala with the first special stage of Rally Monte Carlo.”
Because it’s so good: Volkswagen’s impressive track record in the World Rally Championship
13 rallies and 26 podium finishes, twelve of which were the top spot – the 2015 season goes down in history as the most successful season to date for Volkswagen in the World Rally Championship. Each of the three driver/co-driver pairs won at least one rally and clinched a podium position at least seven times. 159 out of 231 possible stage fastest times were also scored by Volkswagen drivers, as were twelve of the possible 13 power stage wins. The three Polo R WRC cars notched up a total distance of 11,832.08 kilometres at high speed in 2015. And Volkswagen has scored an unparalleled set of top results since it joined the World Rally Championship with the Polo R WRC: 34 out of a possible 39 rally wins, the longest run of consecutive wins by far (twelve), and the two most successful seasons for a manufacturer, with twelve rally wins in both 2014 and 2015. Volkswagen drivers have stood on the podium 67 times, and one of the Volkswagen duos has been fastest in 504 of the 717 special stages held since Rally Monte Carlo in 2013 and has been among the top three on 1,192 occasions. A Volkswagen duo came first in 31 of the 38 power stages, in which the top three duos score bonus points in the drivers’ and co-drivers’ categories, and bonus points went to Wolfsburg factory-backed drivers and co-drivers 69 times, taking the total to exactly 150 bonus points – which is equivalent to six rally wins.
Awards for the Volkswagen Polo R WRC and Sébastien Ogier.
Rally Car and Rally Driver of the Year – the Volkswagen Polo R WRC and Sébastien Ogier (F) were recognised in their respective categories at this year’s Autosport Awards. At the presentation ceremony in London’s Grosvenor House Hotel, the prize went to the 318-hp World Rally Car from Wolfsburg for the second time after 2014. The trophies were presented to Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito and François-Xavier Demaison, Technical Project Manager WRC. Since entering the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with the Polo R WRC, Volkswagen has achieved a number of remarkable records: 34 of 39 possible race wins, by far the longest winning run of twelve back-to-back victories, and the two most successful seasons ever by a manufacturer, with twelve triumphs in both 2014 and 2015. Three-time world champion Ogier, who won the Drivers’ Championship in the WRC in 2013, 2014 and 2015, received his third award from the motorsport magazine. The Frenchman won eight rallies and amassed 263 points last season. At the end of the 13 rallies that made up the 2015 season, Ogier triumphed with a lead of 80 points over team-mate and runner-up Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN).
In the air alright!
From Colin's Crest to Micky's Jump, from Argentina to Australia - breath-taking jumps are what rally fans are yearning for. And during the 2015 WRC season they definitely got what they came to see. En route to his third consecutive world championship title Sébastien Ogier let his Volkswagen Polo R WRC fly time and time again. But Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen did not back down either. The season highlight was the Rally Finland, of course, with its numerous yumps, as the Finns call them. But wherever you went this season, in terms of jumps you basically could not miss out. So please enjoy the best jumpfest photos of the 2015 WRC season here.