Rally Italy.

11 – 14 June 2015

 

Red-hot coverage, exclusive background reports, interviews, the latest photos – simply everything on the 2015 Rally Italy. You are always up to date here.

Sunday, 14.06.2015


Images Day 3 (16)


Final report

Bravissimo!

 

Coast to a stop, then onto the roof of the Polo R WRC, pronto: when it comes to celebrating a rally victory, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have had plenty of practice. And the celebrations went to plan again at the 2015 Rally Italy. The World Champions from France once again on top at the end of round six of the 2015 WRC season. Bravissimo!

 

Victory at the Rally Italy marked the 21st success for Ogier and Ingrassia in Volkswagen colours and the 28th of their WRC careers. The pair also presented Volkswagen with its second hat-trick of wins at one particular rally, having previously triumphed on Sardinia (as in Mexico) in 2013 and 2014. Seb and Julien have extended their lead over Mads Østberg (Citroën) to 66 points.

 

“Victory here on Sardinia was very important in our battle for the World Championship. We now have a large lead over the opposition,” said Ogier after his latest victory. “That was the most physically exhausting rally of the season so far. As such, I am overjoyed and proud of this success in Italy.” Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito: “It was an energy-sapping rally, but with a happy ending for us in the end. That was important in the race for the championship.”

 

Ogier’s team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and his co-driver Miikka Anttila arrived on Sardinia in high spirits after their win in Portugal. Having suffered a puncture and a damaged suspension, which saw them drop down the overall standings on the Saturday of the rally, the Finnish duo produced a fighting display in extremely tough conditions on the Sardinian roads to work their way back into sixth place by the end of the race.

 

The Rally Italy was also tough on Andreas Mikkelsen. Having finished fourth on Sardinia last year, the Norwegian’s rally was all but over after he suffered a broken suspension on Saturday morning. However, there was some small consolation for both Latvala and Mikkelsen: second and third place on the Power Stage (behind Ogier, who clocked the fastest time) at least earned them some bonus points for the Drivers’ Championship. The Rally Poland (2-5 July) is now almost two weeks away, when Latvala and Mikkelsen will be hoping to prove that they can get onto the roof of their World Rally Car just as quickly as world champion Ogier.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“Very important win for the world championship.”

 

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

“The win here on Sardinia was very important in our fight for the world championship. We now have a big lead over our rivals. The decisive factor for the success in addition to a perfect car and a fantastic team was that Julien and I were in perfect harmony this weekend. This is nothing unusual, but there were so many new stages here and the days were so long, that we both needed to be fully focussed the whole time. On top of that is the heat in the cockpit and the demanding and harsh stages - at the end of the day you are absolutely shattered when you fall into bed. This has been the most physically demanding rally of the year so far. Which is why I am so delighted and proud of this success in Italy.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2

“The Polo R WRC continued to perform well today, but after yesterday's events it wasn't really possible to make up any ground. That's why we focussed on the Power Stage. Successfully. All in all, I should be happy with sixth place and a total of ten points after the Power Stage considering the problems I had this weekend. Despite this, there are also some positives to take away. We were fast over the entire distance. We can build on that for Poland. I'm looking forward to it already!“

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“It wasn't going to be possible to get anything other than points on the Power Stage today. I really went for it, and with success. I did well on the Power Stage, I didn't make any mistakes and did the best I could with the starting position. It's good that we took something that counts away. But naturally I am disappointed that we had something of a difficult rally here - and we will learn from this. I'm already looking ahead to the next rally weekend in Poland. It suited me well last year and we staged a great duel with Sébastien Ogier for the win. I hope that we can build on that in two weeks.”

 

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“The Rally Italy had many highs and lows for Volkswagen. And ultimately a happy ending. The third win in a row here for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia sees them take a big step forward in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship, and it is also worth its weight in gold for Volkswagen in the Manufacturers’ Championship. Winning this hot rally, which is very demanding on the car, is far from easy and certainly not a stroll in the park. We learned that the hard way with Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen. However, both made the most of difficult situations after the set-backs. I have the utmost respect for their effort too. I am pleased for the entire team and we can look back on an extremely successful first half of the season together. All the cogs fit together perfectly throughout the entire team – from driver to mechanic, engineer to chef, and logistician to medical department. We can all be very proud of that.“


Final classification after 23 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time / Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 4h 25m 54.3s  
2 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +3m 05.4s  
3 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul +4m 22.5s  
4 E. Evans / D. Barritt +5m 34.8s  
5 M. Østberg / J. Andersson +7m 50.1s  
6 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +8m 06.7s  
7 Y. Protasov / P. Cherepin +14m 57.7s  
8 P. Andreucci / A. Andreussi +15m 03.3s  
9 J. Kopecký / P. Dresler +17m 41.7s  
10 K. Al Qassimi / C. Patterson +19m 12.0s  
...      
36 A. Mikkelsen / O. Fløene + 1h 36m 52.0s  

Number of the day

30,108.95.

 

The 27th victory for the Polo R WRC in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and podium number 52 since the World Rally Car made its debut in January 2013: Volkswagen added new chapters to its remarkable success story on Sardinia. The Polo R WRC now has 406 stage wins from 592 special stages, having added a further 14 in Italy. Since the project started at the Rally Monte Carlo in 2013, the Polo R WRCs have completed a total of 30,108.95 kilometres against the clock. That is the equivalent of about three quarters of the way around the earth at rally speed.


Day 3 in Italy.


Saturday, 13.06.2015


Rally Italy day 2. The video.


Classification after 19 of 23 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time / Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 3h 54m 43.9s  
2 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +2m 13.6s  
3 M. Østberg / J. Andersson +3m 25.6s  
4 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul +3m 57.0s  
5 E. Evans / D. Barritt +5m 15.5s  
6 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +8m 08.6s  
7 Y. Protasov / P. Cherepin +13m 32.4s  
8 P. Andreucci / A. Andreussi +13m 39.4s  
9 J. Kopecký / P. Dresler +15m 30.8s  
10 Y. Al Rajhi / M. Orr +16m 28.8s  

Day report

TurbOgier.

On the 17th special stage at the Rally Italy things finally got serious. Until that point, World Champion Sébastien Ogier in the Volkswagen Polo R WRC and Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) had staged a thrilling duel for the overall lead at the sixth WRC event of the season. "Respect", was Ogier's response to the New Zealander's performance, who had been driving the rally of his life up to that point. Then Haydon Paddon's Hyundai suffered technical problems and Ogier seemed to ignite the turbo.

An advantage of 12.6 seconds after the 17th stage. 26.8 seconds after pass number 18. And at the end of the second day of rallying on Sardinia, Ogier had pulled away by an impressive 2:13.6 minutes. TurbOgier some might say. "It was a very long and difficult day in the cockpit, but I'm happy with how things went," said Ogier at the end of the day. "Hayden Paddon gave as good as he got once again. Now we are holding all the aces for the final day. And we want to defend our position to the end." 45.8 timed kilometres across four special stages, including the closing Power Stage are scheduled for Sunday.

Meanwhile, Ogier's team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen experienced a challenging second day on Sardinia. While Mikkelsen was forced to retire his Polo R WRC after the 13th special stage due to broken suspension, JML first battled through tyre damage and then hit a solid stone on the 17th special stage. Resulting in damaged suspension. This saw Latvala end the day in sixth overall with a considerable deficit of 8:08.6 minutes to the top. There's no doubt about it, the longest rally day of this WRC season so far has clearly left its mark on all of the competitors. Except for TurbOgier.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“Now we are holding all the aces for the final day.“

 

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

"It was a very long and difficult day in the cockpit, but I'm happy with how things went. I only made a minor error in the morning, when I almost stalled the car in a hairpin bend on the 13th stage, otherwise it went pretty much perfectly for Julien and me. My aim was to take the lead at the end of the day, and I'm happy that it worked out. It was hard work since Hayden Paddon gave as good as he got for a long time. The track conditions were also extremely difficult, which always threatened tyre damage. Now we are holding all the aces for the final day. And we want to defend our position to the end."

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2

"Today started really well - with the best time of the twelfth special stage. Unfortunately, the tyre came off the rim after a jump on the following special stage. We lost almost 2.30 minutes changing the tyre. That was a major setback in the fight for the win at the Rally Sardinia. In the afternoon, there was a stone in the middle of the driving line on the special stage 'Monti die Alà'. I wasn't able to avoid it and damaged the rear left damper. We tried to repair the car as well as we could and were fortunate to make it back to the Service Park by ourselves. The whole thing is even more frustrating since I was doing well with the Polo R WRC throughout the rally and it was great fun chasing the drivers ahead of me. The Rally Italy still isn't good ground for me. But we won't give up and will do our best again tomorrow."

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

"It looks as if this isn't going to be my rally. We wanted to cover as many kilometres as possible on our return today, and gain special stage experience for the coming years. But it came to nothing. On the 13th special stage of all stages, the handling of the car was strange on some of the turns. When I tried to turn into a right-hand bend, nothing happened initially and we slipped down a slope. Now we need to analyse what happened in detail. But our goal for tomorrow hasn't changed: We want to really go for it on the Power Stage and see whether that's enough to pick up one or two points. We don't have an ideal starting position - but we will definitely try."

 

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

"The whole team showed incredible fighting spirit today. Sébastien Ogier increased the pressure at the right moment and seized the lead brilliantly - even if we would have liked to see his fine duel with Haydon Paddon continue on the track. Jari-Matti Latvala was extremely unlucky, and tyre damage followed by suspension damage cost him a lot of time. But he limited the loss with maximum willpower and defended sixth place fiercely. Hats off. Unfortunately, Andreas Mikkelsen was forced to give up on his plan of getting to know the stages at rally speed for next season early on, but he has the chance to fight for points on the Power Stage tomorrow. It was a long, eventful day for everyone in the Volkswagen team - now we're looking forward to the final on Sunday and want to bring home the win."


Number of the day

400.

 

The legendary “Monte Lerno”, “Micky’s Jump” and Jari-Matti Latvala’s contribution: the Finn and his co-driver Miikka Anttila claimed a special stage win on the longest stage at the Rally Italy – the 400th for the Polo R WRC in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). Up to and including this 14th special stage, which features the infamous “Micky’s Jump”, the World Rally Car from Wolfsburg has now contested 582 stages. Latvala/Anttila celebrated this little milestone in style. They took off from “Micky’s Jump” at 83.2 km/h, landed a good 27 metres further down the road, and enjoyed 1.3 seconds of air time.


Midday report

No giving up for Volkswagen.

 

What a thrilling battle for the lead at the Rally Italy! And what a fantastic attitude! At the halfway point on day two, Volkswagen is still within striking distance of victory on Sardinia. However, the team has suffered two tough set-backs on Saturday. After 15 special stages, Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) trails overall leader Hayden Paddon (Hyundai), who is driving the rally of his life, by 9.3 seconds.

 

In the overall standings, nobody can handle the pace set by Paddon and Ogier at the moment. Unfortunately Jari-Matti Latvala is no longer in contention for the win. The Finn was about 20 seconds off the lead until SS 13, but then suffered a flat tyre and lost about two minutes. Despite this, Latvala is still running fifth. “I continued at first, but then realised that the tyre was damaged and stopped,” said a visibly frustrated Jari-Matti. 

 

However, “JML” refused to give up. On the contrary. He drove like the wind on the final two stages before the midday break, winning both. “When I look at my time now, it makes it particularly frustrating that I had that flat on the last stage,” he said after SS 14. “I will fight hard!” And that is precisely what he did. Incidentally, the stage win on SS 14 was a historic one for Volkswagen: it was the 400th for the Polo R WRC since it made its rally debut in 2013.

 

There is absolutely no question of world champion Sébastien Ogier giving up either. With eight special stages still remaining, he is poised to pounce, 9.3 seconds behind Paddon. There is still everything to play for at the top of the overall standings. Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) would undoubtedly have shown the same fighting spirit as his two team-mates. However, the Norwegian was forced to retire with a broken suspension.

 

Results after SS 15: 

 

1. Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) 2:47:26.5 hrs

2. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) + 9.3 sec

3. Ott Tänak (Ford) + 1:08.9 min

4. Mads Østberg (Citroën) + 2:30.6 min

5. Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) + 2:38.4 min


Images Day 2 (12)


Day 2 in Italy.


Friday, 12.06.2015


Rally Italy day 1. The video.


Classification after 10 of 23 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time / Diff 1st  
1 H. Paddon / J. Kennard 1h 35m 08.5s  
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia +8.8s  
3 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +25.8s  
4 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +57.1s  
5 M. Østberg / J. Andersson +1m 50.4s  
6 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul +1m 51.7s  
7 D. Sordo / M. Martí +1m 59.5s  
8 M. Prokop / J. Tománek +2m 10.3s  
9 L. Bertelli / G. Bernacchini +4m 07.7s  
10 P. Andreucci / A. Andreussi +4m 07.8s  

Day report

 

Full-throttle for super Saturday.

 

After Rally Italy's day 1, Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala are currently second and thrid, five of the ten special stages so far have gone to the boys from Wolfsburg. On to Sardinia's super Saturday now which will be the longest day of the WRC season so far with 212.83 competitive kilometres. The impressive 42.22 kilometre Monte Lerno stage will be on as well as iconic Micky's Jump when the World Rally Cars show off some serious hangtime. No doubt about it: Saturday will be a true test for men and machines alike. Those who will reach Saturday's finish line still within reach of the top spots of the overall classifications will be ligitimate contenders for a podium finish on Sunday.

Ogier and Latvala are keen on putting pressure on overall leader Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) on Saturday. Ogier trails Paddon by only 8.8 seconds - 17.0 seconds ahead of his team-mate Latvala. "Paddon did a great job. It will not be easy to make up the time on him. However, as his closest rival we are well positioned." JML remains equally optimistic: "A lot can happen between now and the end, as Rally Italy is one of the longest of the year."

Andreas Mikkelsen had to retire his Polo R WRC on Friday after hitting a hole in the road on the second special stage of the day. On Saturday he will rejoin under Rally2 regulations but will have to work his way up the field. Even though AM won't be able to charge to the top of the overall standings, Saturday will be a hot thing on Sardinia and definitely something that no true rally fan can afford to miss out.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“It really could not have gone better.“

 

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

 “That was a fantastic day. I am super happy with our performance. The day started well yesterday with a perfect forecast from our weather crew. A big thank you for that. It allowed Julien and me to select the right tyre compounds. The Polo was superb and my co-driver Julien did a magnificent job. It really could not have gone better. Hayden Paddon did a great job. Respect! It will not be easy to make up the time on him. However, as his closest rival we are well positioned and have a Saturday with more than 200 demanding kilometres ahead of us.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2

“The conditions were anything but easy today. The stages were nice, but narrow and very technical. The storm in the morning meant we had to adapt to a slippery route. Over the course of the afternoon I was able to find my rhythm and set some good times. Unfortunately, however, I then lost a bit of time when I made a slight mistake. I took a chicane in the middle of the stage too quickly and punctured a tyre, which cost me about 20 seconds. That does not make the task facing us over the next two days any easier. However, a lot can happen between now and the end, as the Rally Italy is one of the longest of the year. Compliments to Hayden Paddon, he was flying today!”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“500 metres from the end of the ‘Grighine Nord’ special stage we hit a hole in the road after a fast left-hander. It was a very narrow point, which we were taking in fifth gear, so we had no chance of avoiding the hole. We hit it with the rear-right wheel, and that was enough to damage the rim and then the compensation tank for the damper. On the following stage, which was extremely bumpy, the damper shot through the upper mount. We were able to crawl to the end of the stage, but it was game over for us on the following liaison stage – apparently as a result of subsequent damage to the fuel system. We will use the opportunity to gain more experience of Sardinia tomorrow, before we launch an all-out attack on Sunday’s Power Stage, which we won last year.”

 

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“A good start to the Rally Italy for Volkswagen. Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala fought hard for every tenth of a second today, and have both put themselves into a good position, from which to push for the win. The difficult and unsettled conditions out on the route made it really hard work. Seb and Jari-Matti will do everything in their power on the long day tomorrow to close the gap to the leader and, if possible, to take the lead. That is the goal. Andreas Mikkelsen was a bit unlucky today. He had to retire in the third Polo R WRC and will return tomorrow under Rally2 regulations. He will now go for broke on the Power Stage on Sunday.”


Images Day 1 (13)


Number of the day

19.

 

The alarm sounded at five o’clock in the morning, heralding a true marathon day for the drivers and co-drivers at the Rally Italy on Friday. They left the hotel in Cagliari before the clock struck six and embarked on the morning’s four special stages towards Alghero. After a short break around midday, it was back to business on the afternoon loop. Only at about 21:30 did the drivers and co-drivers deliver their World Rally Cars to the Volkswagen service area, where they did their interviews before disappearing into their hotel rooms in Alghero. Once there, they first studied videos of Saturday’s special stages before finally settling down for some well-earned sleep. Having said that, the crews must be back in the service park by 05:30 Saturday’s first service is scheduled for 06:30. Altogether, that makes it a 19-hour working day.


"At Work"


Midday report

Volkswagen poised to pounce.

The Rally Italy is in full flow, and Volkswagen drivers Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) and Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) are once again embroiled in a thrilling battle. At the moment, however, it is only for second place. The man currently setting the pace is Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon. There has been no catching the New Zealander (yet). After five special stages, Paddon’s lead over the Volkswagen drivers currently stands at about 25 seconds. However, there is still all to play for: the rally on Sardinia is a full 23 stages long, so there is no need to panic.

 

The slogan for the Italian round of the World Rally Championship is “Jumping in the Dust”. However, there was not much dust to be seen on the morning of day one. This was because it had rained heavily in the night, meaning parts of the route were still slightly damp on Friday morning. Sébastien Ogier was the man charged with opening the route on Friday. “The gravel was already dry, but it was still damned slippery,” said Ogier after SS 1. Jari-Matti was of a similar opinion, having taken to the route two cars later. “At first it was very slippery, but it improved with time. I was handling it well by the end,” said the ‘Flying Finn’, who missed a turning on one stage. Despite this, Latvala is currently 2.2 seconds ahead of Ogier in second place. 

 

The slippery conditions on Sardinia proved to be the undoing of Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9): the Norwegian damaged his suspension on stage four and will rejoin the rally on Saturday under Rally2 regulations. Before then, a further five special stages are scheduled for Friday afternoon. 

 

Results after SS 5: 

 

1. Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) 46m 30.9s

2. Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) 46m 53.9s

3. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) 46m 56.0s

4. Dani Sordo (Hyundai) 47m 05.9s

5. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) 47m 09.9s 


Day 1 in Italy.

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


Thursday, 11.06.2015


Rally Italy opening day. The video.


Day review

Mikkelsen best Volkswagen sprint starter.


Three, two, one, full speed! First head down Calata Azuni. Turn right, harbour chicane and then back to full speed along Via Roma. Hairpin left and back again. After the bus stop come the next two hairpin bends. Take the roundabout between Molo Sant’ Agostino and Calata Azuni at full drift and one final right turn. Then the opening lap of the Rally Italy is complete. The short ride along the edge of the harbour that lasts just under two and a half minutes may not have brought the biggest beads of sweat to the foreheads of the Volkswagen drivers. But possibly the most goose bumps on the rapidly moving arms.


Thousands of fans lined the 2.5 kilometres of the stage "Città di Cagliari" on Thursday evening; this is the second time in a row that this stage has opened the Rally Italy. The spectacle with perfect views for the fans of the direct duels between the World Rally Cars is a real crowd puller. And it was evident that the WRC junkies enjoyed the sprint start to the 2015 Rally Italy. Martin Prokop got the best time, but Andreas Mikkelsen in the Volkswagen Polo R WRC was hot on the heels of the Ford driver. Just 1.7 seconds separated Mikkelsen from the top spot in the overall standings at the end of the day.


AM's team-mates had everything under control. World Champion Sébastien Ogier finished in sixth place, Jari-Matti Latvala got the same time as Ogier and was seventh. It sounds like a mediocre result, but it isn't. The short distance sees the two of them trail overall leader Prokop by just 3.4 seconds. So it's all good, and the first full day of the Rally Italy can get started on Friday. Nine special stages covering a total of 133.5 timed kilometres are scheduled. And as of 08:20 a.m. local time, once again it's three, two, one, full speed!

 

Results after SS 1:

 
1. Martin Prokop (Ford) 2,23.7 min.
2. Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) 2,25.4 min.
3. Ott Tänak (Ford) 2,26.6 min.
4. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) 2,26.6 min.
5. Mads Østberg (Citroën) 2,27.0 min. 
6. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) 2,27.1 min.
7. Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) 2,27.1 min.


Champions to Champions

Taking the trophy on tour.

The fact that not every rally fan in Italy is immediately aware of the significance of the green and white scarf on the rear of the Volkswagen Polo R WRC is quite understandable. While the football heroes of VfL Wolfsburg were landing a major coup in winning the DFB Cup a fortnight ago, the fans in Italy were probably already fully in rally mode. For Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen, on the other hand, it seemed only right to show their support for the club from their manufacturer’s home city. A greeting from one set of champions to another.

And there have been plenty of the obligatory “2015 Cup Winner” t-shirts in evidence. While the scarf and shirt had to be left in the service park, the trophy travelled with the crews. The rear of all three Volkswagen Polo R WRCs was adorned by an easily visible sticker, reminding everyone of Wolfsburg’s 3:1 victory over Borussia Dortmund in Berlin. “I followed the cup final on television,” said double world champion Ogier. “I obviously had my fingers crossed for Wolfsburg. After all, we are family. We are obviously trying to go even faster with the wolves behind us.”


Number of the day

246.95.

A long way for brief entertainment: The World Rally Cars travelled 246.95 kilometres from the Service Park at the Rally Italy in Alghero to the start of the first special stage in Cagliari, seeing them drive from the northwest to the south of the island. The first and only special stage on Thursday was held at the edge of Cagliari's harbour. Length: 2,500 metres. However, driving all those kilometres was worth it in the end. On Friday, Ogier, Latvala, Mikkelsen and co. will go on an action-packed journey back to the Service Park in Alghero - and complete four special stages along the way to the midday service.


Images Opening Day (10)


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“The Polo R WRC is in great shape.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“The Shakedown went well for us. The Polo R WRC is in great shape ahead of the Rally Italy. Julien and I are also perfectly prepared for one of the toughest rallies of the year. With temperatures currently over 30 degrees in the shade, it will certainly be extremely hot in the cockpit here on Sardinia. This means we will have to push ourselves to the limit physically. However, the route conditions are also very technical this time and far more challenging than last year. As always we will do our best and see how things turn out at the end.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I am looking forward to the rally here on Sardinia and will try to take a relaxed approach, whilst at the same time focussing fully on the job in hand. I like the flair and the atmosphere. The temperatures are very summery. However, that is not the only reason it will be a hot affair. We prepared well for the Rally Italy in the Shakedown. It is very technical this year – even more than last year. There are a few really beautiful and challenging special stages. We found a good rhythm right from the start today – I am ready!”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“The shakedown was a mixture of many special stages that are typical of the rally on Sardinia. It was very dusty, which made it harder to see where we were going. There was a lot of loose gravel, which was swept off the road with each car that passed, thus improving grip. The times clearly illustrate the difference between the first, second and third runs. With this in mind, we will face an additional challenge as one of the first cars onto the route tomorrow and on Saturday. Furthermore, a lot of the scheduled stages are very tough on the car – some of them even more so than in Argentina. It will be anything but an easy rally for everyone. However, this certainly does not mean that I am not really looking forward to it.“

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“The Shakedown always provides the final opportunity to judge where you stand before a rally really gets going. We are very happy with the result here in Italy, as two of our Volkswagen drivers – Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala – clocked the same time and were only slightly behind our direct rivals. Andreas Mikkelsen was also in touch with the leaders and wasted no time in finding his rhythm. All three drivers and co-drivers adapted well to the very unique conditions they face at the rally on Sardinia. The long days on Friday and Saturday will show how valuable that is.”


Shakedown report

The heat is on.

 

It hardly seems necessary to warm up for the Rally Italy. Not when you look at the thermometer, at least. Temperatures on Sardinia have already reached mid-summer levels, soaring above the 30-degree mark. However, preparation is always the be all and end all. As such, Thursday afternoon’s Shakedown saw Volkswagen aces Sébastien Ogier (Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1), Jari-Matti Latvala (Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2) and Andreas Mikkelsen (Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9) push ahead with their preparations for the sixth rally weekend of the season. They ended the free practice session in fourth, fifth and eighth place.

 

There was absolutely nothing to choose between Ogier and Latvala: they both clocked identical times of 3:28.5 minutes on their third and final run of the 4.33-kilometre Shakedown stage. That sounds like a good omen for another exciting weekend of rallying. But a word of caution: the rough gravel roads on Sardinia are a real test and are not only demanding on the driver, but also the car. It only takes a fraction of a second to damage the car on a lump of rock.

 

Jari-Matti was given a timely reminder of the perils of the Rally Italy on the Shakedown. He grazed a tree with his Polo R WRC, escaping with just a dented wing. “Strange, that tree wasn’t there on the Recce,” said Latvala’s co-driver Miikka Anntila with a typically cheeky grin afterwards. The debate in the team is now whether or not this was a case of the mysterious Sardinian walking trees. 

 

The Rally Italy officially gets underway on Thursday evening with the Super Special Stage on the streets around the port of Cagliari. The serious business then begins on Friday morning. 22 demanding stages await the competitors, who must complete 1,558.48 kilometres by Sunday – 394.63 of which are against the clock. The heat is on.

 

Results shakedown: 

 

1. Dani Sordo (Hyundai) 3m 27,4s

2. Kris Meeke (Citroën) 3m 27.6s

3. Mads Østberg (Citroën) 3m 28.3s

4. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) 3m 28.5s

5. Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) 3m 28.5s

...
8. Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) 3m 31.3s


Opening day in Italy.


Wednesday, 10.06.2015


Preview

Island-hopping with confidence.

The World Rally Championship is headed to its island getaway: next stop, Sardinia. Where other people go to chill out on holiday, the drifting stars line up for the sixth rally of the season. Despite the picturesque backdrop, this will be far from a relaxing trip. The gravel event is a real test and puts both man and machine through their paces. Temperatures above 30 degrees are extremely demanding, with particular strain on engines and gearboxes.

 

However, Volkswagen arrives in “Bella Italia” brimming with confidence. The most recent outing in Portugal yielded maximum points: the top three places all went to Volkswagen drivers. And it was a similar story on the closing Power Stage, with the three Polo R WRCs finishing first, second and third. “The maximum points haul in Portugal has given us a real boost and all three drivers – Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen – all have what it takes to win in Italy,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “However, it will certainly not be a stroll in the park. The route conditions on Sardinia are difficult and change from one car to the next. On top of that you have the opposition, who will be more determined than ever to make our life difficult after the one-two-three in Portugal.”

 

The Italian Job begins on Thursday evening with the Super Special Stage on the streets of the port of Cagliari. The drivers and cars are introduced to the fans here, before they take on a 2.5-kilometre circuit around the harbour. The serious business gets underway on Friday morning. In total, 23 special stages await the elite of the rallying world.

 

“Mamma Mia!” - Micky's Jump and a marathon Saturday.

 

The Rally Italy, which until 2004 was held on the mainland around Sanremo, is not only known for its rough, dusty and thus demanding gravel roads, but also for a spectacular jump. Micky’s Jump on the marathon “Monte Lerno” stage, which, at 42.22 kilometres, is the longest of the entire rally. The rally cars approach here at almost 100 kilometres per hour and fly up to 40 metres through the air. A challenge for the drivers, a spectacular scene for the massed Tifosi.

 

Saturday is a big enough test anyway: the competitors must complete 212.83 kilometres against the clock on day two of the rally. That is more than half the rally. “This year there will be a few new special stages, and we face a total distance of over 1,500 kilometres – the longest rally of the season so far. As such, physical fitness and stamina are even more important than usual – particularly with such high temperatures in the car,” said Sébastien Ogier, looking ahead to Italy. The reigning world champion won on Sardinia in 2013 and 2014. This year could see him complete a remarkable hat-trick. 

 

Jari-Matti with a score to settle.

 

One man out to prevent Ogier from completing that hat-trick is team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala. The Finn recently triumphed in Portugal after three no-scores in a row. “JML” still trails Ogier by 59 points, but the runner-up in the 2014 World Championship refuses to let that get him down – especially as he has a score to settle in Italy. “In both of the past two years, a puncture has prevented me from possibly going on to win – I finished third on both occasions. I would obviously like to win this time,” said Jari-Matti.

 

Andreas Mikkelsen is currently Sébastien Ogier’s closest rival, 42 points behind the Frenchman in the World Championship standings. He and co-driver Ola Fløene are celebrating an anniversary in Italy: last year, Sardinia was the scene of their first WRC rally together. “Ola and I have been back together in the car for exactly a year. We have a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’, which I find it hard to describe,” said Andreas.  “We have blind faith in each other. Plus, Ola has really helped me to develop.” Mikkelsen is hoping to continue his good run in Italy, with Ola’s help: “I have finished third four times so far this season. I would like to follow on from these performances at the Rally Italy and definitely want to finish in the top five – preferably even higher.”


Number for the Rally.

66

In total, the Rally Italy features 66 changes in surface, between short asphalt and long gravel sections. Asphalt makes up 1.99 per cent of the total distance of 394.63 kilometres of special stage at the Rally Italy. 98.01 per cent is held on gravel. The percentage of the route held on asphalt is at its highest on the Friday of this gravel rally: 7.57 per cent, as opposed to 92.43 per cent on gravel.


Friday, 05.06.2015


“Demands placed on your physical fitness and stamina are greater than usual“

Statements from the Volkswagen team

 

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“As far as I am concerned, the Rally Italy is one of the best rallies on the WRC calendar. I have always improved with every outing there in the past, and have won for the last two years. The special stages are enjoyable, the countryside is beautiful, the atmosphere is superb – it is an all-round great rally. This year there will be a number of new special stages and we are faced with a total distance of over 1,500 kilometres – the longest rally of the season so far. As such, the demands placed on your physical fitness and stamina are greater than usual – particularly given the high temperatures in the car. My goal is obviously to win again this year, but the opposition will not make it easy. The tension is no less than usual – but neither is my fighting spirit. I will fight right to the end and am already looking forward to a dip in the harbour with my colleagues after the rally, should we win. After such a hot weekend, that is definitely the best way to cool down. However, you have to earn it first.“

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I have a score to settle with the Rally Italy. In both of the past two years, a puncture has prevented me from possibly going on to win – I finished third on both occasions. I would obviously like to win this time. My starting position should work in our favour: I start what is probably the longest rally of the year from fifth. The days are incredibly long and the 400 kilometres of special stage take us along narrow roads right next to picturesque cliffs. However, I love to drive in Sardinia. What many people don’t realise is that this rally is actually easier to drive than it looks, as far as the layout is concerned. This means we are really able to put our foot down. Victory at the Rally Portugal was unimaginably important for me. It took an awful lot of pressure off my shoulders. After three rallies without scoring any points, you start to doubt yourself a bit. I would like to say a big thank you to my mental coach, Christoph Treier. He told me: ‘Trust yourself. Trust your speed’. I did that – and will do it again at the Rally Italy.“

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“I have finished third four times so far this season. I would like to follow on from these performances at the Rally Italy and definitely want to finish in the top five – preferably even higher. The Rally Portugal went superbly for me and I immediately fell in love with my new Polo R WRC. The new transmission means the car virtually drives itself – this car is made for me. I am in good form and the team is doing a first-class job. For this reason, I am optimistic of getting a good result. Ola and I have been back together in the car for exactly a year. We have a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’, which I find it hard to describe. We have blind faith in each other – plus, Ola has really helped me to develop.”


Rally Italy

Style scores 10! – Volkswagen with fond memories of Italy.

 

Volkswagen has won the Rally Italy two years in a row – in 2013 and 2014. However, the sporting success is not the only thing to stir up positive memories. The world-famous “Micky’s Jump” is not only a crowd puller, a moment guaranteed to send shivers down even the hardiest of spines, and the picture-postcard image of the Rally Italy – Sébastien Ogier’s jump on this crest in 2013 was also officially crowned the “FIA Motorsport Moment of the Year”. Fast forward twelve months and another vivid memory springs to mind: in 2014, the drivers, co-drivers and team management followed the podium ceremony by leaping into the harbour at Alghero to celebrate Ogier’s second victory in Italy. Not everyone went in of their own accord but, even without an official title, this was the fun moment of 2014 for the Volkswagen team.


Wednesday, 03.06.2015


Where some go to holiday, others go to rally.

 

It’s holiday time for the World Rally Championship. Sardinia hosts round six of the WRC. That not only means delicious food and sunny weather, but also jumps aplenty. But what are they called? A little tip: one of them has something to do with Disney. When did Sardinia first welcome the WRC to its shores? And in what refreshing way did Volkswagen Motorsport celebrate Sébastien Ogier’s victory in Italy last year? Test your knowledge in our quiz, as we look ahead to the rally in a true holiday paradise!

 

Start the quiz.