Roller coaster in Finland: Latvala and Mikkelsen ready to pounce, world champion Ogier suffers a glitch.

Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN), Miikka Anttila (FIN) Volkswagen Polo R WRC (2016) WRC Rally Finland 2016

Latvala and Mikkelsen in battle for the lead; Ogier loses 16 minutes
Spectacular “Ouninpohja” stage next challenge
Rally legends, Formula 1 star and Wimbledon finalist in attendance


29 July 2016

Wolfsburg (29 July 2016). Extremely fast and extremely hilly – the 66th edition of the Rally Finland really lived up to its nickname of “roller coaster” on Friday. And for Volkswagen, also in terms of drama: The Volkswagen works duos Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N) were ready to pounce in second, third and fourth place for a long time behind Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL, Citroën) at the eighth round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). But on the tenth special stage “Surkee 2”, world champions Ogier/Ingrassia were caught out; considering their difficult starting position, they had delivered a flawless performance up to that point. In a hairpin turn at kilometre 11.2, the Polo R WRC with car number one slipped into a ditch. It took Ogier and Ingrassia, along with a few Finnish fans, several attempts to push the Polo back onto the track – despite that, the result was 16 minutes of lost time.

Saturday’s rally action starts with an absolute highlight and the biggest challenge for the drivers and co-drivers: “Ouninpohja”. This most spectacular gravel track of the season, on which the top drivers tear through the forests around Jyväskylä at speeds of up to 200 km/h is to rally drivers what the Nürburgring-Nordschleife is to racing drivers – this year, the stage is slightly shorter, and will be driven in the opposite direction compared with 2015.

Quotes, day 01 Rally Finland

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“There is a hairpin turn at the point at which I was too hard on the steering and wanted to cut the corner. As a result, I slid into the ditch on the inside. It was totally my mistake, and then at perhaps one of the slowest sections of the entire rally of all places. But that can happen when, like Julien and I, you have constantly been at the limit for the last six rallies. Or need to give 110 percent to try and make up for the disadvantage of the starting position. Initially, it didn’t look all that bad and the fans did their best to help us. Unfortunately, there weren’t as many spectators there as I would have hoped for. But without their help, Julien and I would never have got back on the track, so Kiitos!”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“It’s not easy for me to sum up today. It definitely got off to a bad start, but fortunately my slip on the fourth special stage didn’t have too much of an effect. But the puncture cost us a lot of time. After that we kept on improving our rhythm and threw everything at the task in hand. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for us to overtake Kris Meeke. The advantage of the starting position is too great here in Finland. But we aren’t going to give up, we will keep driving at the limit and trying to pile on the pressure. Tomorrow’s action includes the stage “Ouninpohja”. A lot can happen; nothing is for free here.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“The morning went really well for us: I was really pleased with the handling of my Polo and with our speed. Some sections were new to me and I noticed that I was faster in places. Then I found these tracks a little easier on the second pass. However, the competition also stepped it up and the battle for third place couldn’t get much closer. We also have the legendary Ouninpohja stage ahead of us on Saturday – there is a lot of work to do before the finish on Sunday.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“The Rally Finland and its spectacular high-speed stages highlighted why people also refer to the rally as the Finnish Grand Prix. The drivers have to give everything here. Jari-Matti Latvala, Andreas Mikkelsen and Sébastien Ogier delivered a strong performance today. Sébastien Ogier’s slip-up can happen when you constantly have to drive at the limit like he does. As expected, like at the last five rallies, we are unable to fight for the win here under our own steam since the best-placed drivers in the championship are at too great a disadvantage due to the early starting positions.”

And then there were …

… VIPs visiting the Volkswagen team in Finland. The Finnish rally legends Juha Kankkunen, Markku Alen and Ari Vatanen honoured Volkswagen with their presence, as did the Finnish former Formula 1 driver Mika Salo. And a former Wimbledon finalist didn’t let the opportunity of taking a look behind the scenes of the Volkswagen team pass him by. David Nalbandian, Argentinian world-class player and former number three seed in the world rankings visited a good friend: FX Demaison, director of technology at Volkswagen Motorsport.

And then there was also …

… Volkswagen driver Andreas Mikkelsen, who gave his co-driver Anders Jæger a very special present for his 27th birthday on Friday at the Rally Finland: Rally action with role reversal – Jæger at the wheel, Mikkelsen as the navigator. “Anders can show what he’s got,” said Mikkelsen, but prefers to play it safe and grinned as he said: “We’ll do it at a nice winter rally with extremely high walls of snow along the track so we make it to the end safely…” Well, happy birthday Anders Jæger!

Provisional result after day one of the Rally Finland

01. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL), Citroën, 1h 13m 22.2s
02. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen, + 18.1s
03. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai, + 44.3s
04. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N), Volkswagen, + 45.4s
05. Craig Breen/Scott Martin (IRL/GB), Citroën, + 53.8s
06. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai, + 58.2s
07. Mads Østberg/Ola Fløene (N/N), Ford, + 1m 02.9s
08. Ott Tänak/Raigo Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford, + 1m 14.4s
09. Eric Camilli/Benjamin Veillas (F/F), Ford, + 1m 22.6s
10. Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (FIN/FIN), Škoda, + 2m 01.8s

Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen, + 16m 53.3s














Media Volkswagen Motorsport

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Photos: Hélena El Mokni / Daniel Roeseler / Kräling / Red Bull by Volkswagen Motorsport

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