It was perhaps fitting that the Volkswagen WRC team boss, Jost Capito bowed out with a victory on the team's 'home' event. On his last appearance as team chief before moving to assume the CEO role at McLaren F1, Capito had many reasons to be cheerful - and ended up with cake on his face.
Back on tarmac, there were no real gripes from any of the front runners about running order, although the amount of gravel raked out of verges during 'corner-cutting' and 'super-cutting' must have made later runners question their tyre choices at times.
Whatever, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were back on the winning track at the weekend on Rally Germany. As they did last year, Ogier/Ingrassia won round nine of this season’s FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with the Polo R WRC. Extremely difficult conditions, ranging from dry asphalt to wet concrete, made tyre selection a real challenge all weekend.
Their closest rival, Andreas Mikkelsen just failed to take second place in a thrilling finale and ultimately had to settle for fourth behind the ever improving Hyundai squad, led home this time by Dani Sordo from Thierry Neuville - who finished just one tenth of a second apart after a thrilling duel for the runner-up position. Jari-Matti Latvala finished well down the order after suffering a damaged gearbox on Friday.
At the finish Sébastien Ogier said: “The home win is extremely important to our team, Julien and I made great progress in the direction of the title in the championship standings – and naturally we are
For his part, Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director, said: “A very emotional moment for me. Today was my last outing at a rally for Volkswagen before I move to my new job in September. That makes it all the sweeter that we have something to celebrate, thanks to the victory for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. I am particularly pleased to see the pair of them back on the top step of the podium after something of a barren spell. As much as they have had to suffer on gravel tracks as a result of the rules requiring them to open the route, thereby meaning they have no chance of winning, they used the slight advantage that this starting order has on asphalt. And I am just as proud of the performance of Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jæger, who showed themselves to be worthy rivals at the start of the rally. Unfortunately, this wasn’t quite enough for second place in the end, although they both invested everything they could. Jari-Matti Latvala was unlucky this time, I think that he will return even stronger at the Rally France - but I will be watching that from a distance.”
And then there was ... the revenge of the cake. Jost Capito “presented” Jari-Matti Latvala with a cake at the 2014 Rally Sweden. In celebration of 300 stage best times, the cake ended up in the Finn’s face back then. After the Rally Germany came the revenge with departing Motorsport Director Capito on the receiving end of the cake this time - “presented” by the 2014 and 2015 runner-up in the world championship.
FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Rally Germany – Final Results*
1. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen, 3h 00m 26.7s
2. Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (E/E), Hyundai, + 20.3s
3. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai, + 20.4s
4. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N), Volkswagen, + 27.2s
5. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai, + 3m 34.8s
6. Mads Østberg/Ola Fløene (N/N), Ford, + 4m 31.2s
7. Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (FIN/FIN), Škoda, + 8m 36.8s
8. Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (S/S), Škoda, + 8m 52.5s
9. Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (CZ/CZ), Škoda, + 9m 44.2s
10. Armin Kremer/Pirmin Winklhofer (D/D), Škoda, + 10m 10.6s
48. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen, + 36m 33.3s