La bella Italia: Volkswagen's Ogier wins his 4th rally of WRC season‏

Rally Italy produces WRC victory number 20 for Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia Volkswagen and Ogier lead at the halfway point – tenth win in a rowLatvala/Anttila third, Mikkelsen/Fløene fourth

Cool result at a hot rally: Volkswagen extended its lead in all three competitions within the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) on Sardinia. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) claimed their fourth win of the season in extremely tough conditions at the Rally Italy. Volkswagen thus remains unbeaten in 2014 and has increased its winning run to ten victories in a row. For long periods of the rally, fans were treated to one of the most thrilling duels of the season: Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) were for a long time embroiled in a two-car battle with their Volkswagen team-mates Ogier/Ingrassia for stage wins, fractions of a second, and the overall lead before a puncture cost the Finnish pair the lead and saw them drop back into third place. The third duo in the Volkswagen Polo R WRC also impressed with a strong and mature display: Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) ended the sixth rally of the season in fourth place.

“Ogier verses Latvala – that was one of the most exciting battles I have seen for a long time,” said Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neußer, Volkswagen Board Member for Technical Development. “I think this duel will continue to provide us with a lot more entertainment over the rest of the season. The entire Volkswagen team did a fantastic job. Thank you to everyone involved in this success.”

Duel of the demon drifters: Ogier vs. Latvala

First verses second – the duel for the lead in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) took centre stage at the start of the Rally Italy. Remaining true to the Volkswagen motto “may the best man win”, which rules out the use of any team orders in the duel for the World Championship, Jari-Matti Latvala moved into the lead on the fifth special stage. Sébastien Ogier won stages of his own to match his team-mate step for step. On Saturday afternoon, the battle between the two Volkswagen drivers, which also formed the story of the previous round in Argentina, came to a head. Just 12.3 seconds separated the two Volkswagen Polo R WRCs with 100 kilometres of the rally remaining. However, a slip-up from Latvala – on the 13th special stage of all places – brought the spectacular duel to a premature end. Latvala hit a rock and damaged a wheel, which he had to replace there and then. While Ogier went on to claim a comfortable 13th win in Volkswagen colours, Latvala remained hot on the heels of Mad Østberg (Citroën) in second place right down to the final Power Stage. Third place was enough to give Latvala/Anttila their 43rd podium finish – and their eleventh in 19 rallies with Volkswagen.

All-Norwegian comeback: fourth place for the third time in a row for Mikkelsen

A successful Norwegian reunion: Andreas Mikkelsen and his new, and old, co-driver Ola Fløene enjoyed a fine first outing together, finishing an impressive fourth. This was Mikkelsen’s third fourth place in a row. Mikkelsen/Fløene spent the majority of the Rally Italy in a duel for third place with Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S, Citroën) until they hit a rock the size of a wheel in the middle of the road on the twelfth of the 17 stages, resulting in a damaged damper. Over the remaining stages, Mikkelsen/Fløene refrained from taking any unnecessary risks to secure fourth place with a cautious drive.

Scorching heat, fine dust – the Rally Italy poses a real test for the competitors

The Rally Italy proved to be a genuine test of man and machine. Loose sand offered little grip for the early-starters among the World Rally Cars, who had no option but to sweep the racing line clean for the cars behind them. Arriving in Italy in first, second and third place in the World Championship, the regulations required the Volkswagen duos to be the first three cars onto the route. Despite this handicap, the ended the first third of the rally in first, second and fourth. The crews’ physical fitness played a major role: temperatures of 36 degrees in the shade made it particularly hot work in the cockpit. And despite expecting sunshine throughout the entire rally, the weather crew also had their hands full sifting out the correct data to assist with the tyre selection. It became hot unusually quickly in the mornings, with temperatures climbing by up to nine degrees Celsius within just two hours.

Tensational: winning run continues – facts and figures from the Rally Italy

The winning run continues: the fourth win of the season for Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia sees Volkswagen add another chapter to an ongoing success story. Starting at the end of the 2013 season, the last ten victories have gone to Wolfsburg. The Polo R WRC now has 16 wins and 28 podiums to its name from 19 outings in the World Championship. However, the World Rally Car from Wolfsburg is not just quick, but also reliable. In the 19 rallies since the Polo R WRC made its first appearance in 2013, the team has not suffered a single retirement as a result of a technical fault. Volkswagen drivers have won 226 of the 343 special stages since last year’s Rally Monte Carlo. By the end of the Rally Italy, the Polo R WRC had accounted for 521 of the 953 possible top-three times.

Long days, short nights – a show of strength from the Volkswagen team

A lot of work and little sleep – the sixth round of the World Rally Championship was a real physical challenge for the service crews. Despite this, the guys watching the Volkswagen duos’ backs still produced their usual flawless and reliable performance in the eight services. The mechanics also spent several hours trekking across the country roads of Sardinia to get to the 15-minute midday service on Friday, which was located in Buddusò, 120 kilometres from the Service Park in Alghero. The long liaison stages not only meant the service crews were already hard at work at six in the morning, but also well into the night from nine in the evening. During the flexi-services, the three Polo R WRCS are each maintained for 45 minutes, one after another, before they are taken to Parc Fermé.

The 30th, 31st and 32nd time: bonus points for the Volkswagen duos on the Power Stage

For the first time in the history of the Polo R WRC in the World Rally Championship, every single bonus point up for grabs on the Power Stage went to the Wolfsburg-based manufacturer. Andreas Mikkelsen was fastest to pick up three bonus points for the first time. Second place meant a further two points for Jari-Matti Latvala, while Sébastien Ogier was third to score one extra point. In 18 Power Stages, Volkswagen drivers have picked up bonus points on 32 occasions. The Power Stage result in Italy was also the 25th time that the three Polo R WRCS had finished one-two-three on a special stage. On a side note: Mikkelsen’s fastest time on the Power Stage was the 24-year-old’s only stage win at the Rally Italy.

“Joker” for Ogier – World Championship lead extended

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia increased their lead in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship to 33 points with their fourth win of the season – at the same time their fourth podium – and the bonus point from the Power Stage. As such, the defending champion is now guaranteed to end the first half of the season at the top of the WRC standings, regardless of the result at the coming Rally Poland. They can even afford to finish outside the points. Their closest rivals are team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila. And another Volkswagen drivers is right in the thick of the battle for third place in the World Championship: Andreas Mikkelsen is just three points behind Mads Østberg in fourth place.

Quotes after day three of the Rally Italy

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1“I am overjoyed! This win was definitely one of the toughest of my career. Right from day one, Julien and I have pushed ourselves to the very limit here on Sardinia. In this heat, and with the extremely slippery conditions on the roads, we had to risk everything to put Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila under pressure. It ultimately paid off, and we won. We may lead the World Championship at the halfway point in the season, but that is no reason to relax: Jari-Matti is on top form at the moment. However, we also have an eye on the others. Mads Østberg was impressive, and congratulations to Andreas Mikkelsen for his win on the Power Stage!”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2“I can’t really be too happy with third place. We led since Friday and were in with a good chance of winning here. Unfortunately Saturday’s skid and the resulting puncture dashed any hopes of victory. We also had a few other minor problems. We tried to catch Mads Østberg on Sunday, but his lead was too big. However, we did pick up two bonus points on the Power Stage. As far as pace is concerned, we were very good here on Sardinia. There is no doubting that. This has obviously not made the situation in the championship any easier, but there are still seven rallies to go, and we must look ahead to those.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9“We were in an easy position at the start of today. There was a big gap to third place, and an even bigger gap to fifth place behind us. We spent the entire morning concentrating on saving the tyres as much as possible for the Power Stage. This paid dividends, although we did make a few minor mistakes. Despite this, I managed to win my first Power Stage. Awesome! All in all, I am very happy with the Rally Italy. We achieved what we set out to achieve. I am happy to have Ola Fløene back at my side as co-driver. He immediately did a great job. That was my third fourth place in a row. I would like to go at least one better next time out. I am confident we can achieve that. The only way is up now for Ola and me.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director“Respect to the entire team, and congratulations to Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. They not only repeated last year’s victory here in Italy, but also ensured that Volkswagen will lead all three competitions in the World Rally Championship at the halfway point of the season. Behind this success lies a lot of hard work put in by the entire team on-site, in Wolfsburg and in Hannover. I would also like to pay a big compliment to Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila. They led the rally for a long time and were involved in a spectacular duel with Sébastien Ogier. Unfortunately a skid brought that battle to a premature end. However, I am sure there is more of that to come over the rest of the season. Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene produced an outstanding display and proved that they belong among the best in the world. We will continue to work hard to ensure that the Polo R WRC and our drivers remain the ones to beat.”

And then there was ...

... sleepless in Alghero. The late service times at the Rally Italy produced a unique atmosphere in the Service Park, which was located directly on the harbour in Alghero. Thousands of spectators, a party mile with street vendors, and yachts in the background – perfect for the Italian soul and an atmospheric backdrop for the World Rally Championship.

FIA Rally World Championship (WRC),

Rally Italy – Final Results1. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen 4h 02m 37.8s2. Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S), Citroën + 1m 23.1s3. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen + 1m 32.8s4. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), Volkswagen + 2m 39.3s5. Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (GB/GB), Ford + 4m 41.8s6. Martin Prokop/Jan Tománek (CZ/CZ), Ford + 6m 05.3s7. Henning Solberg/Ilka Minor (N/A), Ford + 7m 15.8s8. Robert Kubica/Maciej Szczepaniak (PL/PL), Ford + 12m 19.0s9. Lorenzo Bertelli/Mitia Dotta (I/I), Ford + 15m 22.1s10. Khalid Al-Qassimi/Chris Patterson (UAE/GB), Citroën + 16m 49.3sFIA Rally World Championship (WRC),

Rally Italy – Power Stage Results1. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), Volkswagen 5m 39.7s2. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen + 1.0s3. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen + 2.5s

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Overall StandingsDrivers' Championship points1. Sébastien Ogier 1122. Jari-Matti Latvala 1053. Mads Østberg 664. Andreas Mikkelsen 635. Mikko Hirvonen 406. Elfyn Evans 367. Kris Meeke 328. Thierry Neuville 319. Martin Prokop 3010. Henning Solberg 2211. Bryan Bouffier 1812. Robert Kubica 1213. Ott Tänak 1014. Benito Guerra 815. Chris Atkinson 616. Pontus Tidemand 417. Juho Hänninen 418. Jaroslav Melichárek 419. Nasser Al-Attiyah 320. Matteo Gamba 221. Craig Breen 222. Yuriy Protasov 223. Lorenzo Bertelli 224. Jari Ketomaa 125. Khalid Al-Qassimi 126. Dani Sordo 027. Hayden Paddon 0

Manufacturers' Championship points

1. Volkswagen Motorsport 2272. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 1093. M-Sport 784. Volkswagen Motorsport II 645. Hyundai Motorsport 576.Jipocar Czech National Team327. RK M-Sport WRT 188. Hyundai Motorsport N 4