Volkswagen at the 2012 World Rally Championship.

The Monte Carlo Rally. Day one. Somewhere on the western fringes of the French Alps. The 2012 season began with a bombshell for Volkswagen Motorsport. Works driver Sébastien Ogier, who will line up at the start in the new Polo R WRC from 2013, was behind the wheel of a Fabia from subsidiary Skoda. He and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia were in fourth place following the initial special stages in the world championship opening event, driving a Super 2000 car (2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine, capable of around 270 hp) among a horde of World Rally Cars (1.6-litre turbocharged engine, capable of around 300 hp). In the most challenging conditions, on icy and snow-covered stretches of road, Ogier showed in impressive style that finishing third overall in the 2011 world championship was anything but a coincidence.

Ogier and Ingrassia may have ultimately had to retire from the Monte Carlo Rally due to an accident, but it remained the only slip-up of the entire season. In subsequent world championship rallies, the young Frenchmen regularly won the Super 2000 category. Even their respective team colleagues Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) and Kevin Abbring (Netherlands) achieved top results against the more seasoned drivers in this class, despite their lack of world championship experience. The strategy of optimally preparing the entire team for the task ahead using the 2012 test runs paid off. And it got even better: at the home fixture for Volkswagen Motorsport, the Germany Rally, Ogier and Ingrassia set a new record. They finished in sixth place. But that wasn’t enough: in the Italy Rally they went one better and finished fifth – never before had a Super 2000 vehicle been better placed in a world championship run.