Rally Italy.

09 – 12 June 2016

 

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

Timetable

 

Note: All times in the timetable are given in CEST (as of: 03/06/2016).

Thursday, 09/06/2016

Time SS Name Liaison SS km Liaison
08:00   Shakedown (Olmedo)      
17:00   Official start (Bastioni Magellano)      
18:00 SS 01 Ittiri Arena Show 29.22 km 02.00 km 28.72 km

Friday, 10/06/2016

Time SS Name Liaison SS km Liaison
09:35 SS 02 Ardara-Ozieri 1 61.11 km 07.50 km  
10:12 SS 03 Tula 1 19.75 km 15.00 km  
11:10 SS 04 Castelsardo 1 29.07 km 14.02 km  
11:51 SS 05 Tergu-Osilo 1 15.86 km 14.91 km  
15:15 SS 06 Ardara-Ozieri 2 61.11 km 07.50 km  
15:52 SS 07 Tula 2 19.75 km 15.00 km  
16:50 SS 08 Castelsardo 2 29.07 km 14.02 km  
17:31 SS 09 Tergu-Osilo 2 15.86 km 14.91 km 50.06 km

Saturday, 11/06/2016

Time SS Name Liaison SS km Liaison
08:10 SS 10 Monti di Alà 1 115.02 km 22.20 km  
08:53 SS 11 Coiluna-Loelle 1 10.51 km 22.39 km 04.47 km
12:52 SS 12 Monte Lerno 1 06.22 km 44.26 km 96.97 km
16:01 SS 13 Monti di Alà 2 115.02 km 22.20 km  
16:44 SS 14 Coiluna-Loelle 2 10.51 km 22.39 km  
17:50 SS 15 Monte Lerno 2 06.22 km 44.26 km 96.97 km

Sunday, 12/06/2016

Time SS Name Liaison SS km Liaison
08:27 SS 16 Cala Flumini 1 34.92 km 14.06 km  
09:08 SS 17 Sassari-Argentiera 1 05.31 km 06.07 km 04.20 km
11:04 SS 18 Cala Flumini 2 08.72 km 14.06 km 03.10 km
12:08 SS 19 Sassari-Argentiera 2 02.01 km 06.07 km 34.31 km

Sunday, 12/06/2016


Worth its weight in gold – Volkswagen extends its lead in the WRC with a double podium in Italy. The video.


Best images of the day (15)


Final report

Jari-Matti is back, Seb was never away!

 

Jari-Matti Latvala would be one of the first to admit that the Rally Italy has so far been something of a double-edged sword with Volkswagen. Puncture in 2013, puncture in 2014, puncture in 2015 – so read the Finn’s record on Sardinia coming into this year’s event. However, Latvala had always picked up points whenever he appeared on the Mediterranean island with the Volkswagen Polo R WRC, and had actually finished third on two occasions. This year, JML was spared any major mishaps, and the result was his best finish on Sardinia with the Polo R WRC.

 

A flawless rally and a podium were the Finn’s own goals coming into the rally, and Latvala delivered. Throughout the entire rally, he was in contention for the win, producing a thrilling duel with eventual winner Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) on the opening two days, and battling to overcome the tough conditions caused by the surface and the weather. The reward: second place, and with it the best result on Sardinia since he joined Volkswagen.

 

A clear statement in the overall classification: having been deserted by Lady Luck of late, he bounced back emphatically and is right back in the middle of the battle for second place in the Drivers’ Championship. 

 

Sébastien Ogier also had cause to be happy with his weekend’s work – in two regards. By his own admission, he was unable to challenge for victory due to his starting position. As such, he focussed on his lead in the World Championship standings – mission accomplished, and more besides. Andreas Mikkelsen, Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) and Mads Østberg (Ford) – Ogier’s closest rivals – all suffered set-backs on Sardinia. The world champion did not and collected also three point by winning the Power Stage.

 

The 2016 season is now six rallies old – and the Frenchman has finished on the podium at each event. There is absolutely no need to pose the question of whether there could be a more worthy championship leader. Having arrived on Sardinia with a 47-point lead over his closest rivals, Ogier leaves the island with a 64-point advantage over Dani Sordo (Hyundai), who is currently second overall.

 

The world champion also won his second, and probably more important for Ogier, race against time. In the run-up to the rally, he announced his desire to leave the Sardinia early should his wife go into labour. The dad-to-be won this race and can now look forward to and focus on the birth of his first child on the back of a profitable trip to Italy. 

Mikkelsen’s quest to finish on the podium ended on Saturday. Up until stage 14, the Norwegian had been embroiled in an exciting battle for third place, before unluckily hitting a stone in the middle of the road and damaging his suspension – with serious consequences.

 

Although a third Volkswagen win in a row on Sardinia was not to be, the standings in both the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ World Championship send a clear signal – the 2016 Rally Italy was a good one for both Latvala and the Wolfsburg-based car maker. Volkswagen leads the Manufacturers’ Championship by 70 points. As for the Flying Finn, well he will be determined to go one better on Sardinia in 2017.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“We will push hard again in Poland!”

 

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

“Going into the rally, I knew that third place would be the best possible result Julien and I could hope for without others slipping up. As such, I am very happy to be on the podium. After the extremely long and tiring day yesterday, today was more of a relaxing cruise. Given the big gap to the front-runners and to those behind us, our priority was simply to get to the finish in one piece. The Power Stage was like driving on the beach – it was that sandy. We have once again significantly increased our lead in the world championship. With that in mind, it has been an ideal weekend. I would like to say a special thank you to my wife Andrea for waiting to give birth to our first child. I cannot wait to get home. The next few days will certainly be more exciting for me than any rally!”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2

“A successful weekend for us. As a team, we were able to stretch our lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship. We would obviously have liked to be stood on the top step of the podium, but, after my disappointing performance here in recent years, second place is a great success. Plus, we closed the gap to the front-runners in the Drivers’ Championship. Congratulations to Thierry Neuville. He did a great job all weekend and deserved to win. We will push hard again in Poland!”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“That is certainly not how I imagined the Rally Italy ending. On Saturday, on the penultimate stage of the day, we hit a rock at almost full speed after a long right-hander. Even with the best will in the world we could not avoid it. The big impact broke the suspension there and then. That was just unlucky, but is part and parcel of rallying. Sunday offered us the opportunity to test a few set-up variants on the Polo R WRC for the coming rallies. We hope we will benefit from that in Poland. We have always done well there in recent years – and that is obviously our goal again this year. We deliberately did not attack on the Power Stage, in order to start third instead of second at the next round. This will significantly increase our chance of winning. It is not nice for the spectators to see us ease up, but those are the rules we have to work with in order to achieve our goals come the end of the year.” 

 

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“Volkswagen significantly extended its lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship and took an important step towards defending its titles. As such, we can be very happy with the Rally Italy. Congratulations to Hyundai and Thierry Neuville, who produced a great performance and were better than us this time. Jari-Matti Latvala bounced back with second place – respect. Sébastien Ogier got the absolute maximum from his starting position. As first onto the route on this extremely loose gravel on Sardinia, he simply had no chance to compete for the win with those starting later on. Despite this, his performance was outstanding – even if the result does not quite reflect it. Andreas Mikkelsen was unlucky this time and, despite a good performance, was denied a possible podium finish. I think this will make him even more of a force to be reckoned with at the coming rally in Poland.”


Final classification after 19 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Time / Diff 1st
1 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 3h 35m 25.8s
2 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +24.8s
3 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia +1m 37.8s
4 D. Sordo / M. Martí +2m 54.0s
5 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +5m 26.4s
6 E. Camilli / B. Veillas +5m 59.8s
7 H. Solberg / I. Minor +6m 22.2s
8 T. Suninen / M. Markkula +8m 57.4s
9 J. Kopecky / P. Dresler +9m 47.0s
10 K. Kruuda / M. Jarveoja +13m 28.5s
...    
13 A.Mikkelsen / A.Jæger +15m 53.4s

Number of the day

30

 

Success number 30 on the Power Stage: Sébastien Ogier remains the “Master of Faster” on the final special stage of a rally, on which bonus points are up for grabs for the three fastest duos. And that despite the three-time world champion sliding a little wide in a hairpin. The 70th Power Stage in the history of the World Rally Championship saw Volkswagen set the fastest time for the 36th time. The manufacturer has now scored extra points 81 times. Volkswagen has now amassed 175 points on the Power Stage alone.


Day 3 in Italy.


Saturday, 11/06/2016


Best images of the day (15)


Day report

Latvala in contention, Ogier set to extend world championship lead.

If the weather statistics are to be believed, there is one day of rain in the month of June each year. As such, the chances of rain during the Rally Italy were slim at best. But that was precisely what happened – and it fit nicely into the overall picture. The weather, the tyres, the surface, and exciting battles – all ingredients of a strange day, which started as it meant to continue in the morning.

 

Kevin Abbring claimed his first stage win at a rally in an old Hyundai, ahead of Eric Camilli (Ford) – another driver that few experts would have reckoned with before the rally.

 

This did not affect the top of the overall standings, where Jari-Matti Latvala and Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) continued to exchange blows. Although the Finn had closed to within 2.9 seconds by the midday break, it soon grew again, only to shrink and then increase once more. There was no end to the toing and froing, and it does not take a prophet to see that tomorrow’s final day is going to produce a thrilling battle for the win. Roughly 16 seconds separate JML from the lead with four stages remaining – the maths is easy.

 

The excitement in the race for third place is over for the time being. Although he had to contend with the disadvantage of having to open all the stages, Sébastien Ogier once again produced a courageous performance to fend off the challenges for third place – with great success. Ogier goes into the final day with a lead of over a minute over fourth place and is well-placed to extend his lead in the world championship.

 

For much of the rally, Ogier had been embroiled in a fierce three-way battle with Volkswagen team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen and Mads Østberg (Ford). The latter suffered a set-back on the final stage of the day and was forced to retire with problems with his car.

 

The penultimate stage of the day hit Mikkelsen equally hard. The Norwegian, who was within striking distance of the podium at the time, was unfortunate to hit a large stone that damaged the suspension on his Volkswagen Polo R WRC. Mikkelsen’s attempt to repair his World Rally Car was in vain. AM also had to retire, but will re-join the race under Rally 2 regulations on Sunday.

 

At the same time as Mikkelsen retired, the aforementioned rain had already started to fall on some sections of the route, causing significant problems for a number of drivers. “Difficult conditions, a slippery route, and poor vision,” Latvala reported from his Polo R WRC. The things you do for your second win of the season. Precisely that remains possible for JML.

Four stages are scheduled for the third and final day of the rally, with a further 42.04 kilometres against the clock. Incidentally, rain is not forecast.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“A day of ups and downs.“

 

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

“We are right on course in third place. Going into the weekend I said that a podium finish would be the ideal result for Julien and me here on Sardinia. We would obviously have liked to treat our fans to a direct duel with Andreas (Mikkelsen) and Mads (Østberg) on the final day. On the other hand, however, we could – if everything goes to plan – significantly extend our lead in the world championship. The stages were very demanding again. I am glad that we made it through without any major problems. Only in the afternoon did I not have an optimal feeling in the car – the rear was very twitchy and seemed to dance about. We must look into exactly what might have caused that. All in all, however, it was a good day.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2

“Today was a day of ups and downs. In the morning we cut Thierry Neuville’s lead to three seconds, but I dropped twelve seconds again in the afternoon. We lost too much time, particularly on stage 13. All in all, however, we have to be happy. In these conditions, you have to drive carefully, otherwise a mistake can soon bring your day to a premature end. Thierry risked more than us, and did a great job. We still have a few stages to drive, and we have certainly not given up yet.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“That was just unlucky. Shortly before the end of stage 14, we came round a right bend flat-out. Right in the middle of the racing line was a massive stone, which, even with the best will in the world, we simply could not avoid. As such we had to drive over it at top speed – and that destroyed the front-right suspension. We could do nothing about it. To go out in that way is obviously disappointing, and certainly not what we had imagined. We can still score points on the Power Stage tomorrow. I will be trying to take something away from the rally. Otherwise, we will turn our attention to the next rally in Poland, where we have always done well in the past.”

 

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“A typical day at the Rally Italy on Sardinia. Dust, heat and brutal conditions really put the drivers, co-drivers and cars through their paces. You needed a good tyre strategy and to pace the race well today. Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala did that perfectly, but Andreas Mikkelsen was really unlucky. He hit a stone on the racing line on the penultimate stage of the day and was forced to retire with a damaged suspension. Up until that point he was well-placed and had made up time on his direct rivals in the world championship out on the route. Second and third are good starting positions for our team for tomorrow’s final sprint. I am sure that Jari-Matti will once again go all out for the win tomorrow. It remains exciting.”


Classification after 15 of 19 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Time / Diff 1st
1 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 3h 07m 35.2s
2 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +16.1s
3 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia +1m 15.0s
4 D. Sordo / M. Martí +2m 19.2s
5 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +4m 50.6s
6 H. Solberg / I. Minor +5m 32.4s
7 E. Camilli / B. Veillas +5m 38.5s
8 K. Kruuda / M. Jarveoja +11m 35.3s
9 M. Prokop / J. Tomanek +12m 33.1s
10 J. Kopecky / P. Dresler +13m 31.6s

Number of the day

1

 

One day remaining for Sébastien Ogier and his first child can be born without Ogier having to leave Rally Italy and Sardinia early. Ogier's wife is heavily pregnant and has therefore not travelled to Sardinia to support her husband. Ogier had made it clear that he would leave the event immediately should his first child be underway. "This is something very special, of course," said Ogier. Currently, however, it looks as if the Frenchman can finish the sixth round of the WRC season as planned.


Midday report

Latvala applies pressure – Ogier and Mikkelsen fighting for the podium.

 

Metre by metre, second by second – Jari-Matti Latvala has commenced his pursuit of leader Thierry Neuville (Hyundai). The two drivers were taking no prisoners on yesterday’s opening day of the Rally Italy, and continued where they left off in the morning loop on day two. 

 

Neuville’s lead after ten stages was up to 11.7 seconds. However, JML then cut that to first 9.7 and then 2.9 seconds, setting up a thrilling afternoon loop.

 

Another real thriller is developing behind them in the battle for third place: Sébastien Ogier, Andreas Mikkelsen and Mads Østberg (Ford) are the candidates for the final spot on the podium, and are currently separated by just 3.2 seconds. The latter benefitted from a clever tyre selection on the twelfth special stage. Østberg was the only one of the top drivers to opt for a combination of hard and soft tyres, and was rewarded for his brave selection with a stage win.

 

As well as the raging battles at the head of the field, Micky’s Jump is also providing plenty of thrills on the 44.26-kilometre Monte-Lerno stage. As in the past, thousands of fans have flocked to what is the highest jump on the rally calendar, and one that many feel is also the most spectacular. And the best thing is: the spectators can look forward to these breath-taking moments again in the afternoon, as the stars of the WRC tackle Monte-Lerno for the second time.

 

 

Overall standings after 5 of 19 special stages:

 

1 Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) 2:11:39.6 hrs

2 Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) +2.9s

3 Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) +55.3s

4 Mads Østberg (Ford) +55.6s

5 Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) +58.5s


Day 2 in Italy.


Friday, 10/06/2016


Best images of the day (15)


Day report

Latvala battles for the lead, while Ogier and Mikkelsen are poised to pounce.

 

Back and forth, back and forth – Latvala ahead of Neuville, Neuville ahead of Latvala: the many rally fans on Sardinia could hardly complain about a lack of action at the top of the overall standings on day one. 

 

The constant changes at the top of the overall standings began in the morning – on the fourth stage, to be precise – when Jari-Matti Latvala snatched the lead from Volkswagen team-mate Sébastien Ogier. The lead then proceeded to change hands after each stage, until Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) was able to retain and extend his lead on stage eight. Despite this, after exactly 104.86 kilometres, JML is just 11.1 seconds behind the Belgian – far from a comfortable margin.

 

Third, and still within striking distance, is Ogier. The world championship leader trails Neuville by just 40.3 seconds, despite once again having to overcome the disadvantage of opening the stages.

 

The third man in the Volkswagen trio, Andreas Mikkelsen, has driven an inconspicuous but solid rally so far. Fourth after day one, the Norwegian is about 57 seconds off the lead. Déjà vu? Mikkelsen went into the weekend of the Rally Portugal in a similar position, before producing a sensational drive to fight his way up to second place. As such, hopes of another podium finish are more than justified.

 

As usual, Saturday will be the longest day of the rally. Six special stages and a total of 177.7 kilometres against the clock are scheduled. The main attraction, which is guaranteed to set pulses racing, is Micky’s Jump. The drivers tackle this famous crest on the Monte Lerno stage, which is run twice.

 

The three Volkswagen drivers are well-placed. Bring on the weekend – and more of this thrilling battle for the lead.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“It is all to play for – including the win.“

 

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

 “I am very happy. That was better than I expected. Julien and I got the maximum out of the day. We wanted to stay ahead of Andreas (Mikkelsen) and Mads (Østberg), and we achieved precisely that – although we do not have a particularly big lead over them. The stages are extremely demanding from a driving point of view – very narrow, rough and with little grip, particularly in the morning. That is why we took a risk with the softer tyres on the first loop. A risk that paid off. All in all, a good day.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2

“The Rally Italy on Sardinia is one of the most difficult events on the rally calendar. You really have to look after the car. Then you have the high temperatures. We did not do a perfect job of looking after the tyres today, which meant we were not able to push right through to the final stage. Despite this, I am happy with the day’s result. We will make a few changes to the Polo R WRC for tomorrow. It will be another tough day for everyone, and I will be trying to close the gap to Thierry Neuville. It is all to play for – including the win.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“This morning we made an aggressive tyre selection, taking four soft tyres and one of the harder compound. That was the right decision, but unfortunately we were not able to fully implement our plan. We did not have enough time to fit the right tyres before the final stage of the morning loop, so we had to set off with one tyre that was pretty worn. This meant we had to take a rather cautious approach. The Rally Italy was a completely different event in the afternoon, although we were back on exactly the same stages. They had so much more grip! We are in touch with the leaders and a podium is possible. We could hardly have done any more today. As such, we are happy.”

 

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“Our drivers had to take a chance and go for an aggressive tyre selection today, in order to compensate for the disadvantage that comes with their starting positions. That paid dividends. Both Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen were able to minimise the amount of time they feared they would lose through having to open the route. They are now in touch with the leaders and are well-placed in the battle for the podium. Jari-Matti Latvala also got a lot out of his day. Second going into day two, he will fight for the win right through to the finish line – that much is certain. All in all, it has been a good day for Volkswagen.”


Classification after 9 of 19 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Time / Diff 1st
1 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 1h 14m 03.2s
2 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +11.1s
3 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia +40.3s
4 A. Mikkelsen / A. Jæger +57.5s
5 M. Østberg / O. Fløene +58.5s
6 D. Sordo / M. Martí +1m 18.6s
7 U. Scandola / G. D'Amore +2m 29.1s
8 H. Solberg / I. Minor +2m 32.5s
9 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +2m 35.6s
10 E. Lappi / J. Ferm +2m 39.2s

Midday report

Tyre dilemma in the Sardinian dust.

He is always a joy to watch and listen to when everything is running really smoothly. Jari-Matti Latvala gave reporter Colin Clark a laid-back interview at the end of the fifth stage of the Rally Italy, Tergu-Osilo 1. “Our plan came up trumps, and our strategy was right. I am really pleased,” said the Finn, who is currently second after five stages of the rally on Sardinia, just 1.5 seconds behind Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville and a full 22.2 seconds ahead of team-mate Sébastien Ogier.

 

By strategy, Jari-Matti means the tyre selection that he and his team made in the morning. He took both hard and soft tyres onto the stages – unlike his Volkswagen team-mates Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen, who packed solely Michelin’s softer compound.

 

Ogier and Mikkelsen were the first two cars onto the (dusty) route. They put their faith in the belief that they would soon find plenty of grip on the short stages (none of which is longer than 15 kilometres today), and would thus have an advantage over the cars further down the starting order. However, they were mistaken. Mikkelsen, for example, dropped from second overall to fifth. At the midday break, he trails leader Neuville by 35.1 seconds. By the end of the stages, Mikkelsen’s tyres were looking extremely ropy. “I did not have time to change my tyres before the final stage of the morning,” said a rather frustrated Andreas. “One tyre was completely finished and I had to drive slower to look after it.”

 

World champion Ogier was not happy either, but managed to draw some positives from the morning’s action. “We knew that soft tyres would be pushed to the limit, but we had to gamble a bit,” said the Frenchman. “We are still losing time on the leaders, but I think it could be worse.” Ogier and Mikkelsen have the opportunity to make up ground in the afternoon, when they return to the morning’s four stages. And Latvala has the chance to leapfrog Neuville into the lead.

 

 

 

Overall standings after 5 of 19 special stages:

 

1 Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) 38m 33.9s

2 Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) +1.5s

3 Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) +23.7s

4 Mads Østberg (Ford) +25.5s

5 Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) +35.1s


Day 1 in Italy.

You will find the route profile of the Rally Italy here.


Thursday, 09/06/2016


Best images of the day (17)


Day review

Ittiri Arena Show: Dusty spectacle.

 

Warm-up in the morning, spectacle in the evening: The Rally Italy officially got underway with the usual combination of shakedown and a special stage in the evening. Ittiri Arena Show, the official name of the first special stage, got things started. Ittiri Arena Show? That should mean something to discerning rally fans. The winding track through dust and gravel played host to a special stage last year – the feedback must have been positive.

 

It's not without reason that the opening stage was held there this year, and the Ittiri Arena Show delighted the spectators who turned out in great numbers – the action did the rest: The drivers battled man against man, or car against car, over the sprint distance of two kilometres – with a positive outcome for the Volkswagen drivers. The good impression that the Wolfsburg crew had made during the morning's shakedown was confirmed.

 

Sébastien Ogier in first place, Jari-Matti Latvala in third and Andreas Mikkelsen in fifth place knew how to assert themselves in the one-on-one duels.

 

The findings: The Volkswagen Polo R WRC is equipped for the upcoming three challenging days on the Mediterranean coast. Three days at the end of which some open questions will have been answered. What will the weather be like? If some of the meteorologists are to be believed, then there might be the odd rain shower on Friday, which would have a major impact on the surface.

 

And then there is of course the Sébastien Ogier question: Will he leave the rally early and return home to be at the birth of his child?

 

These questions will be answered in less than three days.


Classification after 1 of 19 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Time / Diff 1st
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 2m 00.4s
2 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +0.3s
3 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +0.3s
4 A. Mikkelsen / A. Jæger +0.6s
5 K. Abbring / S. Marshall +0.6s
6 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +1.3s
7 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul +1.3s
8 D. Sordo / M. Martí +1.6s
9 M. Østberg / O. Fløene +1.9s
10 T. Suninen / M. Markkula +1.9s

Shakedown report

Ready for the dusty challenge.

 

A taste of what lies ahead on a tough weekend of rallying: Volkswagen began its campaign at the Rally Italy with promising times in the Shakedown. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) set the fastest time in “free practice” ahead of the sixth round of this season’s FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) on Sardinia. Their Volkswagen team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N) were seventh and eleventh fastest, and both focussed on the set-up of the Polo R WRC.

Loose gravel, a lot of dust and high temperatures offered a taste of what can be expected over the next few days of rallying. As world championship leaders, Ogier/Ingrassia have the dubious honour of opening the route on Friday and Saturday. Mikkelsen/Jæger, currently second in the world championship, will follow the three-time world champions onto the route. Latvala/Anttila start the second third of the rallying year from sixth.

 

The Rally Italy kicks off on Thursday evening with the two-kilometre spectator stage “Ittiri Arena Show”. This is followed on Friday by 102.86 kilometres against the clock, spread over four stages, each of which must be tackled twice.

 

Results shakedown: 

 

1 Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) 2m 12.9s
2 Mads Østberg (Ford) 2m 13.0s
3 Ott Tänak (Ford) 2m 13.6s

4 Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) 2m 13.7s

5 Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) 2m 14.2s

6 Kevin Abbring (Hyundai) 2m 14.5s

7 Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) 2m 15.1s

...
11 Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) 2m 16.0s


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“There is a lot of strain on the tyres here.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“Julien and I had a good Shakedown. Our priority was to try out various set-ups and tyre combinations, which is why we did one more run than usual. The hot temperatures and rough, stony stages mean there is a lot of strain on the tyres. That possibly gives me an opportunity to make up some ground on the opposition. With such narrow roads, you have to drive really accurately. Any mistake can soon mean the end of your rally. My focus is on finishing ahead of my closest rivals in the world championship, Andreas Mikkelsen and Mads Østberg. A podium would be an excellent result.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“We worked on the set-up in the Shakedown. In the first run, the chassis was still a little too soft and I was not entirely happy with the way I drove. The second run was better with a harder set-up. In the third, we experimented a bit. All in all, it was a good Shakedown. We sorted everything out nicely for the rally. I am looking forward to the Rally Italy.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“When you look at the way the Rally Italy has panned out in recent years, you notice that there are always a lot of unforeseen events here. Many say that the Rally Argentina is the toughest of the year, but I believe the rally on Sardinia is equally tough. It is a question of making it through to the finish. However, you still have to finish as quickly as possible. It is hugely important to find a perfect rhythm, and we did that in the Shakedown. My focus is on the battle with my team-mate Sébastien Ogier, as he will have similar road conditions to me when we both open the route.“

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“The Shakedown ahead of the Rally Italy gave us a taste of things to come over the next few days. A bit of heat, a lot of dust, and difficult roads. The challenge for Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen will be all the greater, as they have to open the route on Friday and Saturday – and that is once again a disadvantage here on Sardinia. I think both of them will fight as hard as possible to avoid losing too much time. All three drivers and co-drivers showed they are a force to be reckoned with in the Shakedown – even if the times do not really reflect that. We can look forward to an exciting Rally Italy.”


Opening day in Italy.


Wednesday, 08/06/2016


Micky's Jump


Rally Italy preview. The Video.


Tuesday, 07/06/2016


Preview

Sizzling action, a dip in the harbour, and Seb’s very own race against time!

A short yelp, a big jump and “splash!”. Followed by another “splash!” and a wave of water thrown high into the air. These are the entertaining scenes that will probably live longest in the memories of fans at the Rally Italy in recent years. Once the final stage was completed and victory secured, the members of the Volkswagen team plunged into the harbour water in Alghero for a well-deserved, refreshing dip. Sébastien Ogier is undefeated with Volkswagen on Sardinia. Since the rally moved to the west coast of the island, it has become something of a tradition for the winners to celebrate with a cool dip. It remains to be seen whether Volkswagen will be enjoying another communal swim this year.

 

Although the reigning world champion and championship leader is once again one of the hot favourites this year, the images of this amusing plunge into the harbour may be missing from the 2016 rally. There is a reason for this – a good reason – as he explains: “Andrea and I are expecting our first child. The due date is actually after the rally, but you never know. Were it to happen during the rally, I would head straight off to be with my wife. That is one of those moments in life that I really don’t want to miss. The team supports my decision 100 per cent.”

 

The Frenchman will be in constant contact with home to keep up-to-speed with his wife’s condition. In the meantime, he just happens to have a rally to drive – and one that is a real test.

 

An extremely slippery surface, feared by many drivers, long and energy-sapping special stages, and temperatures around the 30-degree mark do not only put the drivers through their paces. Despite the picturesque coastal scenery, the trip to Sardinia will also be far from a holiday for the Volkswagen Polo R WRC, as Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito confirms: “The Rally Italy is one of the most demanding rallies on the calendar.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala knows all too well the toll the spectacle on Sardinia can take on the cars. Slow punctures have dashed the Finn’s hopes of victory in recent years. The conclusion: “Maybe it happened because I was pushing the car to the limit.” The solution: “This year, I am determined to look after my tyres better.” Latvala hopes his late starting position will give him an advantage on the extremely slippery gravel.

 

This is an advantage that Andreas Mikkelsen will not be able to count on. Currently second in the world championship, the Norwegian will start directly behind Sébastien Ogier on the first three days, meaning he faces route conditions that will be far from ideal. Spurred on by his impressive second place in Portugal, the Norwegian is now hoping for another strong result: “We will do everything we can to get another good result.”

 

Whatever happens, there are hot days ahead for the Volkswagen team – hopefully with the hard-earned, refreshing dip at the end.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“I am very confident heading to Italy.“

 

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“I am very confident heading to Italy, since the season has been fantastic so far. Julien and I have been on the podium at every rally, and we want to build on this streak. Even though the Rally Italy isn't one of my favourite rallies, I have learned to like it. The tracks are no longer as narrow and rough as they once were. I prefer more level tracks on which you don't always have to protect the car. Another special feature is 'Micky's Jump'. It is one of the highest jumps of the season. From a personal point of view, I am very excited to start soon a new life as Andrea and I are expecting our first child. The due date is after the rally, but you never know. If the baby arrives during the rally, I will head straight to my wife. That is a moment that I definitely don't want to miss. The team is supporting me 100 percent in this decision.“

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“The Rally Italy is fantastic. It’s where I celebrated my first win on gravel. I look forward to returning to Sardinia every year, even though things haven’t gone so well for me there in recent years. I have often picked up a puncture on Sardinia in recent times – perhaps because I pushed too close to the limit. This year I have made a resolution to look after my tyres better. My aim is to finish on the podium again. The gravel on Sardinia is usually very slippery on the first pass, my high starting number could be an advantage. Then all of the drivers usually have good grip on the second loop. Another special feature in Italy is the heat: the body loses a lot of energy and fluids due to the high temperatures. So it is important to drink enough between the stages.“

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“Second place in Portugal almost felt like a win to Anders and me. Which is why we are confident heading to Italy. But we are aware that the rough surface there makes it one of the most difficult rallies of the season, in which anything can happen at any time. Unfortunately, we experienced that last year. And this year we will be the second car on the track – right behind Sébastien Ogier, which doesn’t make things any easier since the stage tracks will still be very rough after just one car. However, we are delighted that we made up a considerable amount of ground in the championship standings with the result in Portugal and were able to move up into second place. Italy is definitely a rally that I love. And we will give it our all on Sardinia to bring home another good result.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“The Rally Italy is one of the most challenging rallies on the calendar. Dust, heat and long special stages such as ‘Monte Lerno’ are famous and notorious. On top of that, our rivals in the WRC are extremely strong: there have been four different winners from three different manufacturers in five rallies. For various reasons, we did not win the two most recent rallies. But we know what we are capable of and intend to fight back on the track in Italy. We definitely don’t want to miss out on the winner’s swim in the docks of Alghero that has become something of a tradition this time around.”


Number for the Rally.

16

Volkswagen is not only unbeaten in the overall standings to date in Italy – but also on the Power Stage. The special stage that usually closes a rally and on which bonus points are awarded to the best three drivers is not only a Volkswagen domain in general, Italy in particular has been a good hunting ground for the Polo R WRC and its crews. Out of the 18 bonus points awarded in the 2013, 2014 and 2015, Volkswagen picked up 16; it was only in 2013 that two points for second place went to Thierry Neuville (M-Sport-Ford). All of the bonus points went to Wolfsburg in 2014 and 2015.