Lead in Wales – Volkswagen on course for title with Ogier.


Ogier leads after an extremely challenging start to the Rally Great Britain
Mikkelsen and Latvala lose time at the penultimate round of the WRC
Typical Wales: rain, mud and fog dominate the opening day


Wolfsburg (28 October 2016). Mixed feelings at the Rally Great Britain: champions elect* Sèbastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), at the wheel of a Polo R WRC, lead the penultimate round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) after day one. The four-time champions took the lead on the opening stage and then proceeded to pull clear over the course of the day. Ogier/Ingrassia – the only duo in the field to have finished in the top three on every stage – won five of the day’s eight special stages. They take a 37.3-second lead into Saturday, when, as on Friday, there will be no midday service. Volkswagen has the opportunity to win the Manufacturers’ Championship for the fourth time in a row at the Rally Great Britain. One third of the way into the rally, the team is on course to wrap up the title, thanks to the lead held by Ogier/Ingrassia.

In contrast, Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N) and Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) lost a lot of time. This was due to drive shaft damage on their world rally cars. Both Volkswagen duos can still finish second in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship. However, Mikkelsen/Jæger are currently well outside the top ten in the overall standings, and Latvala/Anttila are eight.

Quotes after day one of the Rally Great Britain

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“The first stage this morning was extremely difficult and slippery. The priority there was to make it through to finish in one piece. After that, the grip was noticeably better – particularly for us as the first car onto the route. I think that goes someway to explaining the large lead we had opened up over the majority of the opposition by midday. I am jolly glad to have made it through the day. It is obviously a great shame for my team-mates that they struggled with issues. I am confident that our team will get to grips with the problems, and that we will all be able to push hard again with the Polo R WRC tomorrow. Winning the Manufacturers’ title is the top priority for us – without our fantastic team, Julien and I will not be world champions. We want to give them something back by winning in Wales.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I obviously cannot help but be disappointed. We basically made a good start to the rally and soon found a good pace, despite the conditions, which were not easy. The priority was to be ahead of the Hyundais, in order to score more points than our rivals in the Manufacturers’ Championship. We were on course to do precisely that. Unfortunately, the rear-right drive shaft broke on stage seven. That meant we were no longer competitive for the rest of the day. We must now shake off this disappointment, but will push hard again tomorrow.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“I’m incredibly disappointed. I would have preferred to have been challenging for second place in the world championship here. I had a really good start to the rally, despite taking things rather cautiously. Unfortunately, however, I was denied by a broken driveshaft at the front-right of the car on stage four, after which I only had rear-wheel drive. Instead, I ended up losing endless amounts of time. There is not a lot that Anders and I can do here now, apart from to go for broke on Sunday’s Power Stage. We will obviously do that, and then really go for it in Australia.”

Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“A pleasing, and yet at the same time difficult, day for Volkswagen at the Rally Great Britain. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia did a fantastic job today. They took the initiative and the lead from the word go and then opened up a good lead. Hats off to them. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger and Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila, who are all still battling for second place in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship, suffered technical setbacks today. We will now analyse exactly what caused these problems. However, all four will certainly keep fighting to the end and score as many points as possible.”

And then there was …

… a special girl group. The Volkswagen team received a visit on the Wednesday before the Rally Great Britain from participants in the “Dare to be different” campaign, which was launched by ex-Formula 1 and DTM driver Susie Wolff. “Dare to be different” supports talented females in male-dominated professions, such as motorsport. At the service park in Deeside, roughly 40 girls aged between eight and 12 were given a tour behind the scenes at Volkswagen – including from Richard Browne, Race Engineer for Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jæger – and were even allowed to sit in the Polo R WRC.

Provisional result after day one of the Rally Great Britain

01. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen, 1h 44m 31.2s
02. Ott Tänak/Raigo Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford, + 37.3s
03. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai, + 1m 09.0s
04. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai, + 1m 12.8s
05. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL), Citroën, + 1m 14.8s
06. Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (E/E), Hyundai, + 2m 07.2s
07. Mads Østberg/Ola Fløene (N/N), Ford, + 2m 37.3s
08. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen, + 3m 43.6s
09. Stéphane Lefebvre/Gilles de Turckheim (F/F), Citroën, + 4m 31.6s
10. Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (FIN/FIN), Škoda, + 4m 55.0s

19. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N), Volkswagen, + 8m 58.6s












André Dietzel
Media Volkswagen Motorsport

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