First outing in the FIA World Rally Championship, first stage, first milestone: Volkswagen made an impressive start to the legendary Rally Monte Carlo with the Polo R WRC. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) won the opening special stage of the iconic classic in extremely difficult conditions – finishing ahead of multiple world champions Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Citroen). All the top teams adopted identical tyre strategies on the opening “Le Moulinon” stage, as they looked to overcome the challenge thrown up by parts of the stage being run on grippy tarmac and other sections on smooth ice. After the first leg of the four-day “Monte” challenge, Ogier/Ingrassia are currently 1:20.30 minutes behind world champion Loeb in second place, following further excellent stage results. Their team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) follow in fifth place overall after their progress was halted by a puncture on the final stage of the day.
However, the good results at the Rally Monte Carlo cannot really be seen as a true indication of how the Polo R WRC will fair over the course of the season. The conditions – a mixture of ice, snow and tarmac – are unlike any others on likely to be experienced over the remainder of the WRC calendar.
Quotes, day 1 of the Rally Monte Carlo
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director "This is our first competitive outing with the Polo R WRC, and we are obviously pleased to we need to remain realistic. One single stage win does not mean a great deal. It does, however, give us confidence and the knowledge that the entire team did a great job coming into the season. However, there is certainly no question of euphoria breaking out. Our learning phase with the Polo R WRC has only just begun. The ‘Monte’ is always something of a lottery. Second and fifth at the end of day one is far more than we were expecting.”
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7 “We have survived this typical and unpredictable opening day of the ‘Monte’. That is the most important thing. However, today was not really my day. The first special stage put so much strain on the tyres that we had to change them on the way to the second special stage. We than made a mistake with our timing and arrived at the start too late. On the fourth stage we had to complete five kilometres with a puncture and lost a lot of time as a result. From a driving point of view, I am yet to really find my rhythm. That will come though.”
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8 “A good start to the ‘Monte’, and one I am more than happy with. However, that was just the first day, which does not mean an awful lot. The rally still has a long way to go, and we still have some tough days ahead of us. The Polo R WRC feels good and I am obviously pleased with my special stage win this morning. I just drove my own rhythm without really pushing too hard, and was really surprised when I looked at the times. It is extremely difficult to drive in these conditions and the tyre selection is even more important than usual. For this reason, I must say a big thank you to the Gravel crew, with whom I have been working for the first time. That was worth its weight in gold: the ‘Monte’ is at its best out there, as it is totally unpredictable.”
And then there were ...
... former world rally champion and Volkswagen consultant Carlos Sainz and his co-driver Timo Gottschalk, who surprisingly turned up on site to support the Volkswagen team at the Rally Monte Carlo. Immediately after crashing out during the first week of the Rally Dakar, Sainz and Gottschalk flew straight back to Europe in order to be in Valence in time for the opening day of the event. "The ‘Monte’ is the toughest way to start your World Rally Championship campaign,” said the man known as ‘El Matador’. “That makes it even more satisfying that we managed to win the first special stage this morning. We need to stay calm though, as that was just a starter. The Rally Monte Carlo is a long race.”
Sainz won the Rally Dakar with Volkswagen in 2010, while Gottschalk was successful the following year – both in a Volkswagen Race Touareg. Sainz and Gottschalk were joining forces for the first time at the 2013 “Dakar” – in a privately run Buggy.
FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Rally Monte Carlo – Results
|Wednesday, 16 January 2013||km||#7 Latvala/Anttila||#8 Ogier/Ingrassia|
|WP 01||Le Moulinon||37,10||P08 (+33,6 sec.)||P01|
|WP 02||Burzet||30,60||P07 (+25,7 sec.)*||P02 (+10,4 sec.)|
|WP 03||Le Moulinon||37,10||P02 (+12,1 sec.)||P05 (+19,9 sec.)|
|WP 04||Burzet||30,60||P05 (+54,5 sec.)||P04 (+53,7 sec.)|
|Overall||135,40||P05 (+2.32,2 min.)||P02 (+1.20,3 min.)|
|* plus 30-second time penalty.|