One-two at the “Monte”, the third in a row for driver, co-driver and team – Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) enjoyed a magnificent success at the Rally Monte Carlo. Their team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N) finished runner-up to complete a Volkswagen one-two and round off a dream start to the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). 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. Furthermore, Mikkelsen’s new co-driver Anders Jæger crowned his debut in the top category of the World Rally Championship with his first podium. This is something that no other WRC co-driver in the current field can claim to have achieved.
“Monte” winner three years in a row – Sébastien Ogier takes his place among the rally legends
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 legends – as the fifth driver in the history of the World Rally Championship to win the Rally Monte Carlo three times in succession. He emerged triumphant with Volkswagen in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The 318-hp 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 to an impressive win ratio of 87.5 per cent.
Well-staffed for the tyre lottery
Typical “Monte”: dry or wet asphalt on one stage, ice and snow on the next. Sometimes, a bit of everything in the space of just a few kilometres. 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 was given valuable advice by Bernt Kollevold, and Jari-Matti Latvala was able to call on Toni Gardemeister for assistance. 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.
Power Stage points 151 to 154 for Volkswagen drivers, 26th Power Stage win for Ogier
The Power Stage, on which bonus points are awarded to the fastest three drivers and co-drivers, has always been Volkswagen’s playground. The Rally Monte Carlo saw Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia win this special stage for the 26th time, adding points 151 to 153 to Volkswagen’s account. Andreas Mikkelsen finished third to add point number 154.
Crash brings Rally Monte Carlo to a premature end for Latvala/Anttila
For Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), the Rally Monte Carlo 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 checkpoint 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.
Quotes after day three of the Rally Monte Carlo
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“Winning here in Monte Carlo is such an emotional moment for me! It is just an indescribable feeling to win this iconic rally for the third time. The conditions were so tricky. It was so icy and slippery. I am really happy with this success. I would like to thank the entire team, which did a fantastic job this weekend. My ice spies were awesome. Jean Joseph Simon was doing the job for me for the first time here at the ‘Monte’. It was really tough for them to provide us with accurate predictions regarding the state of the roads. The Polo ran superbly. Then there were the many, many fans cheering on Julien and me – it was just a perfect weekend!”
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“My co-driver Miikka Anttila and I fully accept the stewards’ decision. The safety of spectators and participants must take top priority at any rally. Miikka and I are in absolutely no doubt about that. We very much regret the incident and will do everything possible to avoid this kind of thing happening again in the future. At the same time, we are pleased that the spectator got off so lightly this time, and that nothing serious happened.”
Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“An absolutely fantastic start to the WRC season. Second at the ‘Monte’ – that is always going to be rather special. However, it was also the first rally with my new co-driver Anders Jæger – and to stand on the podium together is simply fantastic. I knew that Anders was talented, but he did a perfect job all weekend, for which he deserves my greatest compliment. It was typical ‘Monte’, making it the toughest possible debut for him. The many changes in the weather and varying road conditions, ranging from ice and snow to dry asphalt, meant we had to make a lot of amendments to the pace notes. We drivers also had to be wide-awake all the time. It is thanks to my ice spies, Bernt Kollevold and Timo Alanne, that we are stood on the podium as runners-up today. Not to forget the entire team, who all did a perfect job again. To sum it up: an absolutely fantastic day for us.”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“To start the WRC season with a one-two is, in itself, a fantastic achievement. To do that at the Rally Monte Carlo makes it all the more special. At no other rally is the perfect interaction between drivers, co-drivers, engineers, mechanics, and ice spies, right down to the logisticians, catering and physio team, so vital. It is absolutely fantastic how all the cogs fit together in our team. I think the most frequently asked question by far at Volkswagen Motorsport is ‘can I help you?’ That shows our team spirit. Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen could trust the team implicitly – and performed fantastically themselves. This one-two is deserved, and we are proud of it.”
And then there was ...
... a tie. Both Volkswagen and Hyundai kicked off the WRC season with 25 points each in the Manufacturers’ Championship. Sébastien Ogier’s victory was solely responsible for Volkswagen’s tally, while Hyundai added together the points scored by third-placed Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo, who finished fifth in the Manufacturers’ classification.