Volkswagen sluit rallytijdperk af met een-twee overwinning in Australië

Het succesverhaal van Volkswagen in het WRC is afgesloten met een uitroepteken. Andreas Mikkelsen en Anders Jæger gaven de meest succesvolle rallyauto in de geschiedenis van het FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) afgelopen weekend een waardig afscheid met weer een overwinning in Australië.

Na vier jaar aan de top van de rallysport neemt Volkswagen afscheid van het meest prestigieuze wereldkampioenschap naast de Formule 1 met een indrukwekkend record. Met 958 klassementsproeven, 640 kp-overwinningen, 52 rally’s, 87 podiumplekken, 43 overwinningen en 51 Power Stage bonuspunten is de Volkswagen Polo R WRC veruit de meest succesvolle WRC-auto ooit. Vanaf het moment dat Jari-Matti Latvala op 16 januari 2013 om 09:07 uur voor de eerste keer met de rallyauto uit Wolfsburg aan de start van een rally verscheen, en Andreas Mikkelsen afgelopen zondag om 13:47 uur voor het laatst met de Polo R WRC over de eindstreep kwam, hebben de Volkswagen-coureurs 48.723,52 kilometer op klassementsproeven afgelegd.


    Volkswagen bids farewell to the World Rally Championship as champions with win number 43
    A force down under: Mikkelsen claims third WRC win after battle with Ogier


The story of Volkswagen in the WRC ended with an exclamation mark: Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N) gave the most successful car in the history of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) a worthy send-off with another win at the Rally Australia. Victory in the Polo R WRC’s 52nd rally was both spectacular and hard-fought – and featured a close battle with Volkswagen team-mates Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), who celebrated four titles in the Driver’s and Co-Drivers’ Championship with the world rally car from Wolfsburg. The French pair also won the Manufacturers’ Championship four times with fellow Volkswagen duo Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN). The final hurrah down under developed into a real thriller, in which Mikkelsen/Jæger held his nerve to come out on top thanks to a magnificent performance. After four years at the top of the pinnacle of rallying, Volkswagen bids farewell to the most prestigious automobile world championship outside Formula 1 with an impressive record.

The best rally car ever made – the Polo R WRC
958 special stages, 640 stage wins. 52 rallies, 87 podium finishes, including 43 victories. 51 Power Stages, bonus points on 92 occasions. As far as the success rate is concerned, the Volkswagen Polo R WRC is by far the most successful WRC car ever. Between the moment that Jari-Matti Latvala set off on the world rally car from Wolfsburg’s first special stage – at 09:07 on 16 January 2013 – and Andreas Mikkelsen crossing the finish line for the final time in the Polo R WRC at 13:47 and 51 seconds local time, the Volkswagen drivers have completed 48,723.52 kilometres of special stage. That is almost exactly three times the distance between Ikarusallee 7a in Hannover and the Volkswagen service area in Coffs Harbour. There is a strong team behind this success: as well as the team at the rallies and the 200 employees in Hannover, the technical development department in Wolfsburg and the partners of Volkswagen Motorsport have also contributed to the historic success.

Milestone, not melancholy: hard-earned victory for Mikkelsen after battle with Ogier
Extreme dust, the task of sweeping clear a thick layer of loose gravel, and the intelligent management of the race tyres – the crews at the 2016 Rally Australia faced a wide range of challenges. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger led the field of world rally cars for 94.1 per cent of the 283.36 kilometres against the clock. Their duel with four-time world champions* Ogier/Ingrassia was one of the finest seen in rallying in recent years. What made it all the more remarkable was the fact that neither of the two Volkswagen duos had favourable starting positions.

One goal achieved, one narrowly missed – Mikkelsen/Jæger finish third in the world championship
Victory in the final rally of the year saw Mikkelsen/Jæger do all they could to finish second in the World Rally Championship. However, their rivals for the runner-up spot, Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B, Hyundai), were in no mood to give up second place. The Belgians claimed the third spot on the podium behind Mikkelsen/Jæger and Ogier/Ingrassia. Mikkelsen/Jæger did finish third in the Manufacturers’ Championship – as the best one-car team in the World Rally Championship.

Latvala/Anttila in the points at the final round of the season
Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) in the third Polo R WRC were denied a happy ending at the final rally of the year. They damaged their suspension when they brushed a barrier on a bridge at the very start of the rally. Despite losing over seven minutes, last year’s runners-up in the World Rally Championship fought their way back into the points and ended the Rally Australia in ninth place.

Icing on the cake in a Volkswagen domain: Ogier wins the Power Stage
Volkswagen once again dominated the Power Stage, on which bonus points are awarded to the top three drivers and co-drivers. The stage win in Australia went to a Volkswagen duo – Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia – for the 39th time. In total, extra points have gone to Wolfsburg on 92 occasions. For Ogier/Ingrassia, this was the 33rd Power Stage win of their career.

And then there was ...
... Julien Ingrassia’s selfie marathon. As Volkswagen’s WRC programme drew to a close, the four-time world champion co-driver set about taking a selfie of himself and every single member of the team at the rally, as a lasting reminder of the four years together.

And then there was also …
... one driver who had been a part of Volkswagen’s WRC project from the word go: Andreas Mikkelsen. His first start for the team came in Finland in 2011 when, as a young driver looking to stake his claim for a works seat, he took part in the first test for Volkswagen Motorsport in a car from group brand Škoda.

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Overall Standings*
Drivers’ Championship
1. Sébastien Ogier, 268 points; 2. Thierry Neuville, 160; 3. Andreas Mikkelsen, 154; 4. Hayden Paddon, 138; 5. Dani Sordo, 130; 6. Jari-Matti Latvala, 112; 7. Mads Østberg, 102; 8. Ott Tänak, 88; 9. Kris Meeke, 64; 10. Craig Breen, 36

Manufacturers’ Championship
1. Volkswagen Motorsport, 377 points; 2. Hyundai Motorsport, 312; 3. Volkswagen Motorsport II, 163; 4. M-Sport, 162; 5. Hyundai Motorsport N, 146; 6. DMACK, 98; 7. Jipocar Czech National Team, 18; 8. Yazeed Racing, 4

* Provisional.