Dream start for Volkswagen in “free practice” for World Rally Cars in WalesMikkelsen ahead of Ogier and Latvala on 3.32-kilometre stage
A fantastic way to open the grand finale: Volkswagen wasted no time in asserting its authority at the Rally Great Britain, finishing first, second and third in the Shakedown. The “free practice” session ahead of the final round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) was won by Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) in their Polo R WRC. Second place went to their Volkswagen team-mates Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), while Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) were third fastest in the third World Rally Car from Wolfsburg.
The 3.32-kilometre stage, parts of which will also form part of Saturday’s “Clocaenog East” special stage, provided the teams with a first taster of the unique conditions they will face at the Rally Great Britain. The damp gravel roads saw mud and sludge form a slippery surface, on which the Volkswagen drivers completed four (Mikkelsen, Latvala) and two (Ogier) runs in final preparation for this season’s final three days of rallying.
The Rally Great Britain gets underway on Friday morning with the opening “Gartheiniog” special stage. Before then, a ceremonial start will take place in Colwyn Bay on Thursday evening.
Quotes after the Shakedown ahead of the Rally Great Britain
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1“The Rally Great Britain promises to be excellent. No driver is burdened with the pressure of trying to win the championship, so everyone can go all out to end the season on a high. I am sure that it will be an intense rally. The rain always makes conditions here very difficult and the level of grip changes all the time. The stages are absolutely beautiful. There are a few new sections, but I am sure they will be just as great to drive on as the other, classic stages. I am really looking forward to the Rally Great Britain.”
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2“I am happy with the Shakedown. The grip changes continuously at the rally in Wales. There is very hard, firm gravel, as well as extremely soft, slushy surfaces. And when it rains, that is when the real challenge begins. I think we are well prepared. The set-up we started with was a little too hard, so we then opted for a softer set-up. That was far better. I like the Rally Great Britain and definitely have an opportunity to challenge for the win again. At the recent rally in Spain I was not as fast as I had hoped on gravel. Today was primarily about me rediscovering my pace on gravel.”
Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9“The Shakedown was a good way to ease into the Rally Great Britain. The conditions were a bit more slippery than during the tests ahead of the rally. As such, they provided a valuable opportunity to adapt. Quite simply, it was typical Wales. We had good runs and tried out two different car set-ups. All in all, I am obviously happy with the result and looking forward to the rally. I think we are ready.”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director“We are up against strong and very motivated opposition at the Rally Great Britain. For example, Kris Meeke in the Citroën will be doing his utmost to win his home rally, while Mikko Hirvonen in the Ford will be striving to win his last rally in the WRC. And it goes without saying that Thierry Neuville and Hyundai will also be looking for the perfect end to the season. The will definitely be doing everything in their power to win here in Wales. But so will we at Volkswagen. The Shakedown showed that our drivers are in good nick. First, second and third – we could not have made a better start to the final round of the season.”