Ogier and Mikkelsen on course for the podium in the Spanish rain.


Second and third for Ogier/Ingrassia and Mikkelsen/Jæger in extreme conditions
Rain transforms Rally Spain’s gravel stages into slippery tracks
Early setback for Latvala/Anttila whilst running third – Rally 2 return on Saturday


Wolfsburg (14 October 2016). Volkswagen is well placed at the Rally Spain despite extremely tricky conditions. The two leading duos in the world championship, Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N), were first onto the route and ended a day of gravel stages in second and third place respectively. The Rally Spain is the only event on the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar to be held on both gravel and asphalt, and the two Volkswagen crews now head to the asphalt stages on Saturday and Sunday trailing leaders Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (E/E, Hyundai) by 17.0 and 35.1 seconds.

The day came to a premature end for Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN). Running third at the time, they skidded too far off line in a left-right combination on stage five, “Caseres”, and damaged their suspension. Latvala/Anttila will return under Rally 2 regulations on Saturday.

This evening, the Volkswagen mechanics will convert the Polo R WRCs from a gravel to an asphalt set-up in just 75 minutes. To do this, they will have to replace roughly 1,400 individual parts in 13 modules per car.

Quotes after day one of the Rally Spain

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“The conditions were really extremely difficult for all the drivers today. It was super slippery in places – with a lot of water and mud on the roads. I pushed as hard as I could again on the afternoon’s final stage. At the moment, things are looking very good for Julien and me in the battle for victory in Spain and the world championship. Tomorrow is the start of a completely new rally. I am looking forward to the fast asphalt stages on Saturday and Sunday. It always feels a bit like being on a racetrack here in Catalonia. The asphalt is absolutely perfect the roads are generally very wide.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“We found our rhythm very quickly today and underlined this with two wins on stages three and four. Unfortunately, our fightback then came to an abrupt end. We got a bit off the line in a left-right combination and damaged the suspension. We tried to repair it, but it was impossible to continue. That was it for today. It is bitterly disappointing, but there’s nothing we can do about it now. We will come back tomorrow and try to score as many points as possible towards the Manufacturers’ Championship.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“Wow, what a tough day. The rain gave us some extremely slippery stages on the gravel today. You can never be quite sure what the conditions were like on the muddy surface. There was plenty of grip one minute, then all of a sudden hardly any at all. We tried to put ourselves in a good position for the next two days on asphalt, whilst taking as few risks as possible. Opening the road was not the ideal starting position today, but I think we made the best of the situation.”

Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“That was a very eventful day for the drivers, co-drivers, engineers and mechanics. The Rally Spain put every member of the team through their paces today: the extremely slippery conditions were far from easy to overcome, particularly for those who had to open the route. Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen coped well and both did the best they could without taking too many risks. We saw from Jari-Matti Latvala’s example just how fine the margins are between success and disappointment in these unpredictable conditions. He was unlucky, and had to retire. He will be back tomorrow and will continue to fight for points in the Manufacturers’ Championship. The mechanics have the most intense service of the year this evening, during which they will convert the cars from the gravel to the asphalt set-up. As such, it is an intense day for them too.”

And then there was…

… a Catalonian double record. On Thursday, as the Rally Spain opened in pouring rain in Barcelona, the small town of Vilassar witnessed the heaviest rainfall since records began. About 25 kilometres north of the opening stage, instruments measured 257 litres of rain per square metre in just four hours. 85 litres of this fell in just 30 minutes. For comparison: this is the equivalent of about two months’ worth of rain in Hannover, at the headquarters of Volkswagen Motorsport GmbH.

Provisional result after day one of the Rally Spain

01. Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (E/E), Hyundai, 1h 18m 44.4s
02. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen, + 17.0s
03. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N), Volkswagen, + 35.1s
04. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai, + 46.3s
05. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai, + 47.5s
06. Mads Østberg/Ola Fløene (N/N), Ford, + 54.3s
07. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL), Citroën, + 1m 06.3s
08. Craig Breen/Scott Martin (IRL/GB), Citroën, + 1m 44.6s
09. Ott Tänak/Raigo Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford, + 2m 04.4s
10. Eric Camilli/Benjamin Veillas (F/F), Ford, + 3m 44.3s












André Dietzel
Media Volkswagen Motorsport
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Photos: Hélena El Mokni / Daniel Roeseler / Kräling / Giorgi / Red Bull by Volkswagen Motorsport