Rally Monte Carlo

21 – 24 January 2016.

 

Red-hot coverage, exclusive background reports, interviews, the latest photos – simply everything on the 2016 Rally Monte Carlo. You are always up to date here.

Timetable

 

Note: All times in the timetable are given in CET (as of: 09.11.2015).

Wednesday, 20/01/2016

Time SS Name Liaison km Liaison
16:00   Shakedown (Gap)   03.35 km  

Thursday, 21/01/2016

Time SS Name Liaison SS km Liaison
20:15 SS1 Entrevaux – Val-de-Chalvagne – Rouaine 89.67 km 21.25 km  
22:11 SS2 Barles – Seyne 80.22 km 20.38 km 59.94 km

Friday, 22/01/2016

Time SS Name Liaison SS km Liaison
10:21 SS3 Corps – La-Salle-en-Beaumont 1 63.08 km 14.65 km  
11:04 SS4 Aspres-les-Corps – Chauffayer 1 19.03 km 25.78 km  
11:40 SS5 Les Costes – Chaillol 1 4.07 km 17.82 km 50.88 km
15:01 SS6 Corps – La-Salle-en-Beaumont 2 63.08 km 14.65 km  
15:44 SS7 Aspres-les-Corps – Chauffayer 2 19.03 km 25.78 km  
16:20 SS8 Les Costes – Chaillol 2 04.07 km 17.82 km 50.88 km

Saturday, 23/01/2016

Time SS Name Liaison SS km Liaison
08:04 SS9 Lardier-et-Valença – Faye 1 19.30 km 51.55 km  
09:52 SS10 St Léger-les-Mélèszes – La Bâtie-Neuve 1 59.05 km 17.13 km 28.74 km
12:03 SS11 Lardier-et-Valença – Faye 2 19.30 km 51.55 km  
13:51 SS12 St Léger-les-Mélèszes – La Bâtie-Neuve 2 59.05 km 17.13 km 24.13 km
15:48 SS13 Sisteron – Thoard 38.52 km 36.60 km 183.10 km

Sunday, 24/01/2016

Time SS Name Liaison SS km Liaison
09:05 SS14 Col de L'Orme – St Laurent 1 44.28 km 12.07 km  
10:57 SS15 La Bollène Vésubie – Peira-Cava 72.68 km 21.36 km  
12:08 SS16 Col de L'Orme – St Laurent 2 (Power Stage) 08.15 km 12.07 km 39.67 km

Monday, 25/01/2016


One cool customer.

 

Press conference. A domain reserved for the good. And only the good. The drivers and co-drivers who have made it onto the podium. However, when talking about the Rally Monte Carlo, you could happily replace the word ‘good’ with ‘great’. These men are sporting heavyweights. And there, sat at ease among them, is Anders Jæger – giving the impression he has always belonged in such illustrious company. Just as he had done all weekend, as he sat alongside Andreas Mikkelsen, reeling off perfectly timed information. Not to mention the way he has established himself in a team that knows and recognises only the utmost professionalism – again, as though he has always belonged there. On Wednesday evening he was still referred to by the specialist press as ‘new’. By Sunday evening he was in the history books as ‘runner-up’. No other co-driver in the current crop can claim to have won stages and finished on the podium at their first WRC rally. Anders made it look easy – and at no other than the rally on the World Championship calendar. The ‘Monte’.


The revelation at this press conference is no longer the fact that Anders Jæger is handling this completely new situation with such aplomb and in such a relaxed manner. It is the reaction of others to the ‘new boy’. Jæger is the first to admit that that he would be lying, were he to claim that his heart was not beating a little faster ahead of the opening stage on Thursday. Sitting here now is something of a relief. After all, it has been a bit of a whirlwind since December, and the preparations for this rally had been so intense. He had barely had time to think about anything else. Andreas Mikkelsen has a big smile on his face as he sits there listening. The sort of expression that says “that’s right, and it was superb. And he is not the only one. Motorsport Director Jost Capito is also visibly delighted. This 26-year-old is simply a joy. “We could not have chosen a more difficult rally, on which to start working together,” says Andreas Mikkelsen. Anders Jæger says: “Well, you have to start somewhere.”

 

It has not come out of the blue, the co-driver shock of the 2016 WRC season. It is the result of hard work. So, how has he prepared for the far higher speeds experienced in the top WRC category? “Och,” says Anders Jæger in a dry manner we seem certain to come to love, “with 400 hours of video training per year.” He started this a while ago, a few years back. The average Norwegian watches a little over double this amount of television per year. So, why not use that for some hard work instead of just light distraction?

 

Anders has proven himself to be a fighter. As mentioned, he has already created a few eye-catching statistics. And he is hungry for more, asking what other firsts he could still achieve. Well – no pressure, but none of the current WRC co-drivers claimed their maiden victory at only their second WRC rally. That would be the home event in Sweden in three weeks, where the itinerary features one day in Norway. A look at the performances of his driver Andreas Mikkelsen shows that this is not a totally unrealistic goal. 

 

On Sunday afternoon, as his first job was drawing to a close, Anders Jæger uttered a few more words of wisdom that showed how utterly at home he feels in this new environment: “Back to work on Monday.”


Sunday, 24/01/2016


Sébastien Ogier wins Rally Monte Carlo. The video.


Best images of the day (16).


Volkswagen starts the season with a one-two.


Win number three in a row at the season-opener. As in 2014 and 2015, Volkswagen made its mark on this year’s Rally Monte Carlo. Sébastien Ogier won the prestigious event for the third year in succession, with Andreas Mikkelsen finishing runner-up to complete a one-two for the Wolfsburg-based manufacturer. “This is just fantastic,” said Sébastien after the closing Power Stage, which he also won. “The Rally Monte Carlo is the most important event of the season. It is a great feeling to win such a demanding rally. I am really emotional.”

Ice, snow and challenging asphalt roads: the Rally Monte Carlo really put the WRC drivers through their paces again at the start of the 2016 season. Many drivers failed to finish, including Jari-Matti Latvala: the Finn skidded into a ditch on Saturday and was forced to retire his damaged Polo R WRC. This aside, the Volkswagen team produced an outstanding performance. Andreas Mikkelsen and Sébastien Ogier drove a tactically clever rally, ensuring they kept their Polo R WRC on the road at all times.

Mikkelsen was embroiled in a battle with Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville for much of the rally. A gamble on the tyre selection first resulted in Andreas falling behind Thierry on Saturday’s opening 51.55-kilometre special stage. However, the selection proved to be spot on for the following stage, as Mikkelsen regained his leapfrogged back ahead of his rival and into fourth place. He then benefitted from the retirement of both Latvala and Kris Meeke (Citroën). Up to that point, the latter had been involved in a thrilling duel for the lead with Ogier.

Mikkelsen’s second place is all the more remarkable, given the fact that he was making his first appearance alongside new co-driver Anders Jæger. There was absolutely no sign of the Norwegian duo having any teething problems. “Anders did an outstanding job on his WRC debut. This second place is fantastic,” said Mikkelsen in the finish zone. The extra point for third place on the Power Stage was the icing on the cake for the new pairing.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

"Such an emotional moment for me!"

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“Winning here in Monte Carlo is such an emotional moment for me! It is just an indescribable feeling to win this iconic rally for the third time. The conditions were so tricky. It was so icy and slippery. I am really happy with this success. I would like to thank the entire team, which did a fantastic job this weekend. My ice spies were awesome. Jean Joseph Simon was doing the job for me for the first time here at the ‘Monte’. It was really tough for them to provide us with accurate predictions regarding the state of the roads. The Polo ran superbly. Then there were the many, many fans cheering on Julien and me – it was just a perfect weekend!”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“My co-driver Miikka Anttila and I fully accept the stewards’ decision. The safety of spectators and participants must take top priority at any rally. Miikka and I are in absolutely no doubt about that. We very much regret the incident and will do everything possible to avoid this kind of thing happening again in the future. At the same time, we are pleased that the spectator got off so lightly this time, and that nothing serious happened.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“An absolutely fantastic start to the WRC season. Second at the ‘Monte’ – that is always going to be rather special. However, it was also the first rally with my new co-driver Anders Jæger – and to stand on the podium together is simply fantastic. I knew that Anders was talented, but he did a perfect job all weekend, for which he deserves my greatest compliment. It was typical ‘Monte’, making it the toughest possible debut for him. The many changes in the weather and varying road conditions, ranging from ice and snow to dry asphalt, meant we had to make a lot of amendments to the pace notes. We drivers also had to be wide-awake all the time. It is thanks to my ice spies, Bernt Kollevold and Timo Alanne, that we are stood on the podium as runners-up today. Not to forget the entire team, who all did a perfect job again. To sum it up: an absolutely fantastic day for us.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“To start the WRC season with a one-two is, in itself, a fantastic achievement. To do that at the Rally Monte Carlo makes it all the more special. At no other rally is the perfect interaction between drivers, co-drivers, engineers, mechanics, and ice spies, right down to the logisticians, catering and physio team, so vital. It is absolutely fantastic how all the cogs fit together in our team. I think the most frequently asked question by far at Volkswagen Motorsport is ‘can I help you?’ That shows our team spirit. Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen could trust the team implicitly – and performed fantastically themselves. This one-two is deserved, and we are proud of it.”


Final classification after 16 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Time / Diff 1st
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 3h 49m 53.1s
2 A. Mikkelsen / A. Jæger +1m 54.5s
3 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul +3m 17.9s
4 M. Østberg / O. Fløene +4m 47.7s
5 S. Lefebvre / G. Moreau +7m 35.6s
6 D. Sordo / M. Martí +10m 35.5s
7 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +11m 39.9s
8 E. Evans / C. Parry +18m 30.8s
9 E. Lappi / J. Ferm +20m 41.0s
10 A. Kremer / P. Winklhofer +20m 43.9s

Number of the day

154

 

The Power Stage, on which bonus points are awarded to the fastest three drivers and co-drivers, has always been Volkswagen’s playground. The Rally Monte Carlo saw Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia win this special stage for the 26th time, adding points 151 to 153 to Volkswagen’s account. Andreas Mikkelsen finished third to add point number 154.


Sunday: the special stages of the fourth day.


Saturday, 23/01/2016


Best images of the day (9).


Volkswagen one-two after day two.

The Rally Monte Carlo had kept fans on the edge of their seats with a thrilling start to the season, and a healthy portion of drama has been added to the mix. Two of the front-runners were forced to retire on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, one of these was Jari-Matti Latvala. The Finn first damaged the suspension of his Polo R WRC, and subsequently arrived too late at a time control point. As such and under the Monte's regulations, Jari-Matti’s rally is over.

 

The second retirement resulted in a one-two for the Volkswagen team. Kris Meeke, who had been leader Sébastien Ogier’s closest rival up to that point, drove over a boulder on the penultimate special stage of the day. In doing so, he appeared not only to damage the undercarriage of his Citroën, but also the gearbox. And that was that for the Northern Irishman.

 

“Kris deserved better,” said Sébastien Ogier when he heard about his retirement. “It would have been nice if the duel with him had continued until the end of the rally. The rally has now taken on a completely different character. I just have to get through to the finish safely.”

 

The biggest beneficiary of Meeke’s retirement was Andreas Mikkelsen, who produced a flawless day to climb into second place in the second Polo R WRC. Although there are only three stages to come on Sunday, second place is far from a certainty. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) is third, just 12.5 seconds back. And the Hyundais proved to be incredibly quick, particularly in the afternoon.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

"Felt like I was on the ‘Streif’ in Kitzbühel."

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“The Rally Monte Carlo once again showed why it is the most difficult rally on the calendar today. The conditions on the stages were so varied that choosing the right tyres was something of a lottery. The majority of the 51 kilometres from Lardier-et-Valença to Faye were dry, but it was also icier than expected. The tenth stage was so incredibly snowy and icy – I felt like I was on the ‘Streif’ in Kitzbühel. All in all, I am more than happy with the way the day panned out for Julien and me. It is a shame that Kris Meeke is no longer in the rally. I would have liked to have continued the battle with him right through to the finish.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I would first like to stress that I am very sorry about what happened today. We came off the very slippery road after a right turn, skidded into a ditch and came out in a field. My visibility was hampered briefly by thick steam from the engine and mud that had sprayed up from the ditch. I saw a spectator jump to the side and drove slowly back to the road. The team contacted me after the stage and informed me that I had touched a spectator. As I said, I am very sorry about the whole incident..”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“All in all, it was a good day for us. This morning, we were the only ones to opt for a completely different tyre strategy and take four spiked winter tyres with us, as well as two supersoft slicks. As a result, we lost a lot of time on the first of the two stages. However, we gained some of that back on the following stage. That is typical ‘Monte’: one stage is dry, the next has ice and snow on it. I was very cautious in the afternoon, especially on the ‘Sisteron’ stage, as I did not want to take any risks. I was possibly a little too cautious, as we lost time again there. We have another exciting battle for second place with Thierry Neuville ahead of us tomorrow. We are looking forward to that.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“Today was a day with very positive aspects, but also less positive aspects. The positives include fine performances by Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen. Seb is driving in a league of his own with huge lead. Andreas made a brave, but also intelligent, tyre selection today and was thus able to work his way up to second place. However, the less positive aspect of the day was an incident involving a spectator after Jari-Matti Latvala’s accident on stage eleven. As soon as we heard the news, we contacted the crew as quickly as possible and started to look into what might have caused the incident. We very much regret what happened.”


Classification after 13 of 16 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Time / Diff 1st
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 3h 19m 05.7s
2 A. Mikkelsen / A. Jæger +1m 59.7s
3 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul +2m 12.2s
4 M. Østberg / O. Fløene +4m 25.9s
5 S. Lefebvre / G. Moreau +7m 29.4s
6 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +10m 42.3s
7 D. Sordo / M. Martí +10m 44.5s
8 E. Evans / C. Parry +17m 14.5s
9 A. Kremer / P. Winklhofer +19m 26.4s
10 E. Lappi / J. Ferm +19m 38.1s

Number of the day

10

 

Stage ten of the infamous “Monte”, the “St Léger-les-Mélèzes–La Bâtie-Neuve” stage, went to Mikkelsen/Jæger. Incidentally, no other WRC co-driver in the current crop can claim to have won a special stage at his very first rally in the top class of the World Rally Championship.


Ogier pulls away. 

 

Icy routes, little grip and narrow, demanding mountain roads. The kind of conditions, in which you would think you could only really lose a rally. However, Sébastien Ogier seemed unfazed by it all on day two of the Rally Monte Carlo, as he set about extending his overnight lead by a full 20 seconds. Going into the Saturday afternoon loop, the Frenchman now leads his closest rival Kris Meeke (Citroën) by 30.2 seconds.

 

The morning was a testing one and opened with a mammoth challenge. The crews were immediately faced with the monster “Lardier-et-Valença – Faye” stage – all 51.55 kilometres of it. Many drivers complained about a lack of grip, with the roads iced over in many places. Like the temperatures, Sébastien Ogier was as cool as ever. The reigning world champion won the stage, ten seconds faster than Meeke and 31.3 seconds ahead of his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala.

 

Andreas Mikkelsen in the third Polo R WRC will have mixed feelings about the two morning stages. He mounted four Michelin spiked tyres on his car in the morning – two more than his direct rivals. This proved to be the wrong choice for the 51.55-kilometre SS9: the surface was too dry, meaning the spikes soon wore away leaving Andreas with zero grip. The Norwegian consequently lost a whole 1:13 minutes.

 

It was a completely different story one stage later. Mikkelsen’s decision to take two extra spiked tyres paid off. He flew through the short, 17.13-kilometre stage, remarkably finishing 43.9 seconds faster than Ogier. “That was the perfect tyre selection for that stage. We were able to push really hard,” said Andreas after the stage. The 26-year-old was unable to claw back the full 1:13 minutes he had lost on the previous stage, but did climb back into fourth place, which he had temporarily surrendered to Thierry Neuville (Hyundai). The afternoon loop features another three stages, including re-runs of the morning’s two challenging stages.

 

Standings after SS 10:

 

1. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) 2:12:39.1 hrs.

2. Kris Meeke (Citroën) +30.2 sec.

3. Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) +1:43.5 min.

4. Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) +2:03.4 min.

5. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) +2:35.1 min.


Saturday: the special stages of the second day.


Friday, 22/01/2016


Best images of the day (15).


Ogier has the opposition under control.


Power struggle at the Rally Monte Carlo. Sébastien Ogier and Kris Meeke have so far been trading places at the top of the overall standings. At the end of day one, Seb has his nose in front in the Polo R WRC. The final stage of the day saw the Frenchman pull ahead of Meeke, courtesy of a blistering time on the cold and slippery asphalt at this year’s “Monte”. Ogier now leads the Northern Irishman by 9.5 seconds. “That was a really impressive time from Seb. I could not have driven any faster,” said a visibly impressed Meeke at the end of the opening day.

Seb also acknowledged the performance of his closest rival, but was more than happy with his day: “Kris is driving very, very fast. I made a few small mistakes today, but nothing major.” Ogier did touch the crash barriers with his Polo R WRC at one point, but only sustained minor damage to the rear-left mudguard and was able to continue.

The day did not run quite so smoothly for Ogier’s team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen. He spun and lost time on the seventh stage. The cause was a slippery layer of ice covering some of the asphalt sections. “I lost a little confidence after the spin,” said Andreas. “All in all, however, I am happy with the day. We are already looking forward to tomorrow’s stages!”

Jari-Matti Latvala took advantage of Mikkelsen’s spin to move ahead of the Norwegian. The Finn is now third, 25.7 seconds clear of Mikkelsen. “I had a much better feel for the icy sections this afternoon,” said Jari-Matti. “It was still tricky, but generally speaking I am happy with the day.”


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

”No lead is safe at the ‘Monte’.


Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“This is an exciting and tense duel with Kris Meeke to start the ‘Monte’. He was quick today. I am very happy with my day. Apart from a small mistake on this morning’s second stage, Julien and I found a good rhythm. The conditions were typical of the ‘Monte’. The seventh stage was a little treacherous, so I took a more cautious approach. The advantage that Kris and I have over the rest may look comfortable, but no lead is safe at the ‘Monte’. Anything can happen here.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“Everything is running to plan. Right from the word go my goal was not to push for a win at this rally, but just to drive my own race – and that is exactly what I am doing. The conditions were difficult all day, as they changed constantly between very dry and icy sections. Perhaps I was a little too cautious here and there, but I found my rhythm in the afternoon. That was reflected in the times. We still have a long way to go before the presentation ceremony in Monte Carlo on Sunday afternoon, but to stand on the podium there would be a great way to start the season.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“All in all, it was an okay day for us. We started superbly, only dropping time when we were a little too cautious here and there. As a new duo, my new co-driver Anders Jæger and I soon found a good rhythm. His timing is perfect. I had a spin in the afternoon when I suddenly lost the rear on the second stage of the loop. We had to turn round, which cost us a lot of time. Apart from this mistake, we are happy with our performance.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“The Rally Monte Carlo has started well for us. The result so far is a good one for Volkswagen: first, third and fourth. You cannot ask for more than that in such difficult conditions. However it was not only a real treat for me as Motorsport Director, but also as a rally fan. The battle between Sébastien Ogier in the Polo R WRC and Kris Meeke in the Citroën is extremely exciting. Both are producing a hugely impressive performance. Respect to them for that. And the Motorsport Director and rally fan in me both say: more of the same, please!”


Classification after 8 of 16 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Time / Diff 1st
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 1h 29m 06.1s
2 K. Meeke / P. Nagle +9.5s
3 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +1m 08.1s
4 A. Mikkelsen / A. Jæger +1m 33.8s
5 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul +1m 47.8s
6 M. Østberg / O. Fløene +2m 18.5s
7 D. Sordo / M. Martí +3m 07.8s
8 S. Lefebvre / G. Moreau +3m 32.0s
9 B. Bouffier / V. Bellotto +4m 18.6s
10 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +5m 25.8s

Number of the day

50

 

The three Polo R WRCs are proudly bearing the words “50 Years of Volkswagen Motorsport” on their rear for the first time at the Rally Monte Carlo. Today’s Volkswagen Motorsport GmbH can trace its first activities in Formula Vee back to 1966. As such, 2016 marks the manufacturer’s 50th anniversary in motor racing.


Close contest up front – Ogier leads.

 

Thrilling duel at the Rally Monte Carlo. The season-opener could hardly be more exciting and demanding. At the head of the field, world champion Sébastien Ogier in the Volkswagen Polo R WRC is embroiled in an enthralling battle with Citroën drover Chris Meeke. Two top drivers and two manufacturers going head to head. It’s enough to set any rally fan’s pulse racing. Ogier currently leads by 1.5 seconds.

Meeke led coming into the first of Friday’s six special stages. Three stages awaited the WRC aces in the morning. The challenge was once again to master icy sections, which not only demanded enormous concentration, but also some very skilful driving.

Consequently, the drivers were a little cautious as they went about their work. “The conditions are changing all the time today. Dry passages with a lot of grip alternate with icy and very slippery sections. As such, I held back a little,” said Jari-Matti Latvala, who is currently fourth overall in his Polo R WRC.

Sébastien Ogier moved up a gear on the fifth special stage to wrest the lead from Meeke, who had managed to keep him at bay until that point. And this despite a mistake from the Frenchman, which resulted in minor damage to his Polo. “I hit something and bent the chassis a little,” said Seb. “It is no problem though, and it was a good morning.”

Andreas Mikkelsen is currently third overall, 37.8 seconds behind Ogier. “That was great fun today,” said Andreas. “We did not want to make any silly mistakes, and are now a fine third! Anders once again did a good job in the co-driver seat.” The afternoon sees the drivers return for a second crack at the same three special stages they tackled this morning.

Standings after SS 5:

1. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) 57:06.7 min.
2. Kris Meeke (Citroën) +1.5 sec.
3. Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) +37.8 sec.
4. Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) +53.5 sec.
5. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) +56.9 sec.


Friday: the special stages of the day.


Thursday, 21/01/2016


Best images of the day (15)


Thrilling start to the “Monte”.

 

Finally! The 2016 season is underway. Rally action is back! And what better place to kick off the new world championship than Monte Carlo? No other city in the world is as synonymous with motorsport as the city of the rich and beautiful in the principality of Monaco. And although the WRC cars may not race through the jungle of crash barriers as their Formula One counterparts do, the images from the World Rally Championship are no less spectacular. After all, the mountain roads around Monaco are narrow and extremely demanding.

 

The fact that the first two special stages were held in total darkness on Thursday evening only served to make the start even more challenging for the rally aces. The limited visibility made it even harder to recognise obstacles or the condition of the road surface. The second special stage, Barles – Seyne, was particularly hazardous, as the final few kilometres were covered in a layer of ice.

 

Despite the challenging start, the trio of Volkswagen drivers came out of the affair with their heads held high. World champion Sébastien Ogier is currently second, 6.9 seconds behind Kris Meeke, who set the pace in his Citroën on Thursday. “I took it steady, as the conditions were not easy,” said Ogier after the first two stages. “There is still a long way to go. That was just the start.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen was accompanied by his new co-driver Anders Jæger for the first time today. And with success: the Norwegian duo is third overall, 20 seconds behind Meeke and 13.1 seconds off the time of team-mate Ogier. “We were a little cautious today, but that is a good start,” said a visibly happy Mikkelsen at the end of the day.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala dropped time on the front-runners today and finds himself 38.7 seconds off the lead going into day two. His Polo R WRC hit a stone on the second stage, forcing him to ease off for the rest of the stage. However, he remains a force to be reckoned with at the “Monte”.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

”The conditions were tricky.


Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“We are only at the very beginning of the rally, and still have a lot of work ahead of us. However, we can already be very satisfied with the start we have made. We still had relatively good grip on the opening stage. The second was considerably more difficult, as there was an increasing amount of snow and ice towards the end. I did not take any major risks on either of the stages.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“The conditions were tricky, so I made a conscious decision to take a cautious approach. I was not unhappy with the gap after the first stage. On stage two, I suddenly lost the car on an icy patch and hit something. I had to take my foot of the gas a little after that, as I was not sure whether it had damaged the rear suspension. That cost us a lot of time, but the main thing is that we were able to get the car back to the service park.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“I am happy with our start, although we were possibly a bit too cautious here and there. But that is typical at the ‘Monte’. I have the utmost faith in my pace notes, and that is a very good feeling. My new co-driver Anders Jæger did a great job. All in all, everything went fine for us. As such, I am looking forward to the next few days.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“There could hardly be a trickier start to the World Rally Championship. Plenty of grip on dry asphalt here, snow and ice there – you never know what is waiting for you at the ‘Monte’. Our three driver/co-driver pairings took the conditions into account and opted for cautious starts. So far, so good. Many more challenges typical of the ‘Monte’ await us over the coming days. After the way today panned out, I am confident.”


Classification after 2 of 16 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Time / Diff 1st
1 K. Meeke / P. Nagle 25:32.1 min.
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia +6.9s
3 A. Mikkelsen / A. Jæger +20.0s
4 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul +31.4s
5 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +34.9s
6 M. Østberg / O. Fløene +35.3s
7 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +38.7s
8 R. Kubica / M. Szczepaniak +45.8s
9 S. Lefebvre / G. Moreau +48.6s
10 D. Sordo / M. Martí +51.8s

Rally Monte Carlo opening day. The video.


Glamour, glory and full throttle in Monaco


Global stars get a feel for the Volkswagen Polo R WRC.

Nobility, sporting personalities, actors and TV presenters – to mark the start of Rally Monte Carlo, top international stars took a seat next to the world rally champions from Volkswagen. Taxi rides around the Grand Prix circuit in Monaco in the Polo R WRC, the world championship-winning car from 2013, 2014 and 2015, gave them an impression of the driving skills of Sébastien Ogier (F), Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) and Andreas Mikkelsen (N). Among the passengers in the rally Polo: actor Mikael Nyqvist, noted for his performances in many Swedish TV productions, particularly the adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium” trilogy; Pierre Casiraghi, seventh in line to the throne of Monaco; former footballer Thomas Helmer, a European Championship winner with Germany in 1996; Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, who topped the world rankings for 67 weeks; European Footballer of the Year 1991, Jean-Pierre Papin, who played for AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Marseille and Bordeaux; Finland’s most-capped footballer, Jari Litmanen; French rugby star Damien Chouly; and Allan McNish, former Formula 1 driver and three-time overall winner of the Le Mans 24-hour race.

“Wow! That was a real adrenalin rush. I did sit next to Pierce Brosnan in a car during filming one time – but Seb really knows what he is doing!”, said Mikael Nyquist after his drive with Sébastien Ogier. Caroline Wozniacki enjoyed a swift city tour with the three-time world champion and added: “I live here in Monaco – and this fast taxi ride was a great new experience for me. I felt really safe sitting next to Sébastien Ogier.”


The ceremonial start for Rally Monte Carlo also welcomed the German TV presenter Kai Pflaume, dancer Katrina Patchett and the world record holder in race walking, Yohann Diniz.


After the VIP taxi rides and the ceremonial start in Monaco in the evening were finished, Rally Monte Carlo also marked the official launch of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) season, with 14 rallies on four continents, taking place on ice and snow, asphalt and gravel. Volkswagen is defending all the world championship titles – in the Manufacturer, Driver and Co-Driver categories – for the third time in a row.


Day 1 in Monte Carlo.


Wednesday, 20/01/2016


Images Shakedown (11)


Trial run for the “Monte” – Volkswagen ready and raring to go.

 

The systems fired up perfectly after the winter break: Volkswagen wasted little time finding its rhythm on the Shakedown at the Rally Monte Carlo. Three-time world champions Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) ended the free practice ahead of the opening round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in second place. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N) and Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) were fifth and sixth fastest. However, one should not read too much into this result: the first attempt of each of the top drivers proved to be the fastest, and the final positions were very dependent on the starting order, as the surface of the 3.35-kilometre stage to the west of the rally headquarters in Gap became visibly dirtier with every rally car that passed.

 

The new season officially gets underway on Thursday, when the competitors roll over the start ramp in Monaco before tackling two special stages and a total distance of 41.63 kilometres against the clock on their way back to Gap in the French Maritime Alps.

 

 

Shakedown result: 

 

1. Kris Meeke (Citroën) 2m 07.2s.

2. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) 2m 07.4s.

3. Dani Sordo (Hyundai) 2m 10.6s.

4. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) 2m 11.0s.

5. Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) 2m 11.9s.

6. Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) 2m 12.6s.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

"The key factor is tyre selection."

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“It is fantastic to be back in the rally Polo. And it is obviously particularly nice for me to get the first kilometres of the new season under my belt in my home city of Gap. I would like to say a special thank you to the many fans here in the service park and on the Shakedown. On the whole, the Shakedown went very well for Julien and me. The Polo feels perfect, but it is obviously difficult to make any sort of prediction. Conditions out on the route varied too much for that. I am now really looking forward to the start in Monaco tomorrow. The opening stages will then show where we stand compared to the opposition.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“The Shakedown went as expected. The many cars out on the route at the same time meant that conditions deteriorated quickly. The dirt on the stage meant the times were not very meaningful. I tried a few things with the set-up. That was my priority. All in all I am happy and glad that the season is about to get underway again.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“It was difficult to try anything out on the Shakedown today. As well as the World Rally Cars, the R5s were also in action at the same time. Everyone cut the corners a little, and scattered dirt on the road in the process. As such, we struggled to set a great time from our position. Nevertheless: it was the first stage under competitive conditions with my new co-driver Anders Jæger – and everything ran smoothly between us. In this respect, we have already found our rhythm.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“Today’s Shakedown was not particularly significant from a sporting point of view. When it comes to getting a feel for the tricky conditions just before the start of the ‘Monte’, however, it was worth its weight in gold. We would obviously like to start the new rally year something as well as we did last season. However, our opposition is looking strong and the rally itself is a huge challenge.”


Friday, 15/01/2016


Volkswagen ready for the "Monte" mix.

A classic to kick off the World Championship – Volkswagen opens its campaign in the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with a truly iconic rally from 21 to 24 January: the “Monte”. Three Polo R WRCs line up at the Rally Monte Carlo, the first of the 14 rounds that make up the World Rally Championship this year. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N) are the men to beat, having finished first, second and third in last year’s world championship. As well as the new-look, stronger opposition, the Volkswagen crews face another tough opponent: the rally itself. With unpredictable weather frequently making a lottery of any tyre selection, the infamous “Monte” is the toughest possible way to start the new season. The route of the 2016 rally is 377.59 kilometres long, spread over 16 special stages – including the famous “Sisteron–Thoard” stage and the Col de Turini.

“The Rally Monte Carlo is often exactly what Monaco is renowned for: a gamble,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “The unsettled weather makes tyre selection a lottery. On the one hand, you need the driver and co-driver to cooperate perfectly. On the other, you also need the ice spies, weather crew and service team to work in harmony. In this regard, there is no greater challenge in the World Rally Championship. And that is precisely why we are so looking forward to it, as we are well prepared.”

39 out of 80: the tyre lottery.

Dry or wet? Snow or black ice? Puddles or frozen patches? These are the kind of questions that need answering before you can select your tyres at the Rally Monte Carlo. However, that is the thing about the “Monte”: the weather and route conditions are far from easy to predict- particularly as it is not rare to encounter all of the above on one special stage. While the sunny side of a mountain may be dry, you could easily be confronted by black ice one turn later on the shaded side.

The advantage lies with those who can rely on a good crew in their route note cars. The ice spies drive the route before the start of the special stage and pass the information acquired on to the co-driver, who adapts his pace notes accordingly. When it comes to tyres, the WRC drivers have a maximum 20 soft and 24 super-soft asphalt tyres at their disposal, as well as 12 winter tyres without studs and 24 with. A maximum 39 of these 80 tyres may be used during the rally. And each must be used at the right time: as well as the four wheels on the car, a maximum two spare tyres may be carried in the boot.

Zero points – the appeal and motivation of a new season.

When Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia, Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila and Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger open the route at the Rally Monte Carlo – an honour bestowed on them for finishing first, second and third in last year’s World Championship – it will be just 70 days since they last started a special stage. And yet this short breaks marks the start of a new season. Everyone starts with zero points to their name and the same opportunity to claim victories, points and World Championship titles. The rivals at Hyundai line up with a new car at the “Monte”, while M-Sport-Ford has a new driver and co-driver line-up. Volkswagen has also made detailed improvements to the car that has won the last three World Championships, the Polo R WRC. The entry list for the Rally Monte Carlo speaks for itself: three Volkswagens, two Citroëns, three Hyundais and six Fords – 15 World Rally Cars and a further 75 vehicles in other classes have registered for the classic rally in 2016.

In the world champion’s backyard: the Rally Monte Carlo, Gap and the classics.

The service park for the 2016 Rally Monte Carlo first sets up camp in Gap, in the French Maritime Alps, before the WRC caravan moves to the harbour in Monaco for its finale. The season-opener is 100 per cent a home race for three-time world champion Sébastien Ogier. He was born in Gap. Last year’s route led straight through his home village, not far out of the city.

Following the Ceremonial Start at the casino in Monaco, the drivers will take on two special stages in the dark on their way to Gap on Thursday. Not only will visibility play a major role, but the ice spies must also be on the ball: freezing wet patches and possible snow in places are the first challenges of the season on the “Entrevaux–Val-de-Chalvagne–Rouaine” and “Barles–Seyne” stages. Friday features three stages to the north of Gap, each of which must be tackled twice. Saturday is not only the day of the classic stages – particularly the infamous “Sisteron-Thoard” stage – but also the longest day of the rally. Roughly half of the kilometres against the clock will be driven on this day. Sunday features two attempts at the “Col de l’Orme–St. Laurent”, which also forms the closing Power Stage. Slotted in between is a new version of the Col de Turini – the “La Bollène-Vésubie–Peira-Cava” stage.

Logistical challenge: from Gap to Monaco – the service park moves house.

The teams must overcome another challenge at the Rally Monte Carlo: after the midday service in Gap, the entire rally circus must move 310 kilometres to the harbour in Monaco. This involves reassembling the service area. The next service is scheduled for shortly after 07:00 on Sunday morning.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

"The key factor is tyre selection."

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“I cannot imagine a better rally, with which to start the new season. I have won the ‘Monte’ for the past two years, and would obviously like to win it again this year. For me, it is the most important rally of the year. The key factor is tyre selection. We drivers are very dependent on our ice spies. It is all about interpreting the weather conditions correctly and understanding the unique weather in the Alps.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“The Rally Monte Carlo is something very special every year. The conditions in the mountains can pretty much change from one minute to the next. The roads on the sunny side of a mountain are completely different to the shaded side, where they are often icy. The better the communication with the ice spies, the more likely you are to get a good result at the ‘Monte’. The presentation alone – to be stood in front of the Royal Palace and hopefully receive a trophy – is the ultimate motivation for me at every ‘Monte’.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“I will admit that the Rally Monte Carlo is not one of my favourite rallies. I finished third here last year, and that would be an outstanding result again in 2016. I will be driving alongside my new co-driver Anders Jæger from now on. It will certainly take a while for us to get up to 100 per cent. I have an extremely positive feeling after all the tests with Anders. I am sure we will find our rhythm after a few special stages.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“The Rally Monte Carlo is often exactly what Monaco is renowned for: a gamble. The unsettled weather makes tyre selection a lottery. On the one hand, you need the driver and co-driver to cooperate perfectly. On the other, you also need the ice spies, weather crew and service team to work in harmony. In this regard, there is no greater challenge in the World Rally Championship. And that is precisely why we are so looking forward to it, as we are well prepared.”