Sunday, 24 January 2016

Rally - VW wins Monte

It's the year 2016, it's a new season of world rallying, and it just seems as though it is business as usual for the Volkswagen squad. A VW one-two at the 'Monte' provided the third in a row for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia with team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jæger finishing runners-up. The latest victory marked the 35th triumph in 40 rallies for the Polo R WRC the 33rd career win for Ogier/Ingrassia, while Mikkelsen racked up his 15th podium finish.

Sandro Munari did it with Lancia, Walter Röhrl with Opel, Lancia and Audi, Tommi Mäkinen with Mitsubishi and Sébastien Loeb with Citroën. Sébastien Ogier has now joined this elite circle of rally champions – as the fifth driver in the history of the World Rally Championship to win the Rally Monte Carlo three times in succession. The 318hp Polo R WRC joins the Porsche 911, Lancia Stratos, Lancia Delta, Mitsubishi Lancer and Citroën Xsara as the sixth model of car with three 'Monte' wins in a row to its name. With 35 victories from 40 rallies, the Polo R WRC is also the most successful car in rally history, thanks

The Rally Monte Carlo is unique on the World Rally Championship calendar. And the 2016 rally lived up to its reputation as perpetually unpredictable. With 16 special stages and 377.59 kilometres against the clock, the drivers had to get the tyre selection just right. Thankfully, the three Volkswagen duos could rely on their route note cars. The 'ice spy' for winner Sébastien Ogier was Simon Jean Joseph, Andreas Mikkelsen had Bernt Kollevold, and Jari-Matti Latvala was able to call on Toni Gardemeister. Their information helped the Volkswagen drivers make intelligent decisions – none more so than Andreas Mikkelsen, who was the only driver to take more spiked tyres with him on Saturday and gained time on his rivals as a result.

For Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila, the rally came to a disappointing end on Saturday. The duo came off the road on stage eleven, skidding into a ditch and out into a field on the other side. In the process, light impact was made with a spectator, who was thankfully unhurt. Damage to the car resulted in Latvala/Anttila arriving late at the Control ahead of the following special stage, bringing their rally to a premature end. The Finnish duo was subsequently fined for not stopping at the scene of the incident, as stipulated in the regulations. The stewards also handed Latvala/Anttila a suspended sentence, which will only come into effect should they be found guilty of another breach of regulations. Driver, co-driver and team have accepted the penalty.

Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau scored their best result to date in the World Rally Championship when they finished fifth overall while DS team mates Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle were reduced to the role of spectators following yesterday's retirement after gearbox failure.

Congratulated by Bernard Piallat, Team Principal, Abu Dhabi Total WRT and Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal, Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau were finally able to relax when they reached the final podium.

In three weeks’ time, the Abu Dhabi Total WRT will pursue its season at Rally Sweden (11-14 February) with three cars driven by Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle, Craig Breen/Scott Martin and Khalid Al-Qassimi/Chris Patterson.

Elfyn Evans and Craig Parry also have good reason to be well-chuffed, with victory in the WRC2 class and 8th overall in the M-Sport Fiesta.

Provisional Final Overall Standings:
1, Ogier / Ingrassia (VW Polo-R WRC) 3h49.53.1
2, Mikkelsen / Jaeger (VW Polo-R WRC) +1:54.5
3, Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:17.9
4, Ostberg / Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:47.7
5, Lefebvre / Moreau (DS 3 WRC) +7:35
6, Sordo / Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +10:35.5
7, Tänak / Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +11:39.9
8, Evans / Parry (Ford Fiesta R5) +18:30.8
9, Lappi / Ferm (Skoda Fabia R5) +20:41.0
10, Kremer / Winklhofer (Skoda Fabia R5) +20:43.9

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