Wolfsburg (19 January 2013). In one of the toughest editions of the Rally Monte Carlo in recent years, Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) managed to lead the Polo R WRC in its first competitive outing to second place. In difficult weather conditions with a mix of snow, ice, and wet asphalt next to bright sunshine, thick fog, and heavy rain Ogier/Ingrassa won two special stages on the classic through the French Maritime Alps. Behind the nine-time world champions Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (F/MC, Citroën), Ogier/Ingrassia achieved top times from the start, thus reaching the podium straightaway and on their own accord in the debut of the Polo R WRC. Their team colleagues Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) were among the top five almost until the end of the rally. Because of the extremely challenging weather conditions with slush and pieces of ice, they were, however, forced to retire after sliding off in the legendary special stage over the Col de Turini.
First special stage, first fastest time – for Volkswagen the Rally Monte Carlo began with a milestone achievement. On “Le Moulinon”, with 37.1 kilometers the longest special stage of the rally, Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia achieved the best time. On the second day, the French duo also secured their position with the best time in the fifth special stage, “La Batie D’Andaure”, in their home rally “Monte”. With other top results Ogier/Ingrassia consolidated their second position in the overall ranking. In total, Volkswagen managed to record top-three results in 14 of 16 special stages.
Extreme weather conditions and safety concerns resulted in a premature end of the Rally Monte Carlo. The organisers of the rally called off the remaining two stages on Saturday evening, including the final round over the Col de Turini. Heavy rain and the resulting unpredictable weather conditions in the night from Saturday to Sunday as well as traffic chaos around the mythical special stage caused safety concerns. Shortly before the cancellation of special stages 17 and 18, Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila had slipped from the track into the barriers with their Polo R WRC. Slush and pieces of ice had made the opening stage of last day of the rally unpredictable. Besides Latvala/Anttila, other top drivers crashed out in this special stage.
Tyre gamble and driving skills most crucial
Changing road textures and unpredictable weather: The conditions in the Rally Monte Carlo are unique in the WRC calendar. In no other rally is the skill of the driver as important as in the “Monte”. An additional success factor: the tyre choice. In the 2013 edition of the classic rally spike tyres turned out to be a rare commodity. No more than 20 pieces per car are permitted by the regulations. When which tyres are used, is a decision that the teams decide based on the information provided by weather crews along the stages and precise weather forecasts. Here, Volkswagen not only proved to be ready for the WRC with the Polo R WRC technically but also in driving and logistically.
The next round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) will take place in Sweden from February 07-10, 2013.