New Polo R WRC makes strong debut in FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)Mud, rain – slippery conditions in “free practice” at the Rally Monte CarloOgier best Volkswagen driver in third place, Mikkelsen fourth, Latvala eleventh
That's the “Monte” – the shakedown at the Rally Monte Carlo gave the Volkswagen drivers a good idea of what to expect in the next four days at the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) classic. In the “free practice” at the opener, adverse conditions and the starting position determined the result of the 3.52-kilometre special stage, south of Gap (France). The first to start had the best conditions since more and more mud was shovelled onto the track with each competitor that took to it. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) completed the shakedown in the new Polo R WRC with the third-fastest time, Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) with the fourth-fastest. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) finished the first show of strength at the “Monte” in eleventh. The real rally action gets underway on Thursday evening after the ceremonial start in Monaco, with the first two special stages at 20:21 and 21:29 local time.
Quotes from the shakedown at the Rally Monte Carlo
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1“The shakedown went well for Julien and me. The new Polo R WRC not only looks good, it also feels great on the road. But one thing's for sure: the conditions at this 'Monte' won't be easy. With temperatures around freezing it will be difficult to predict where there will be ice and snow, and where the asphalt will still be clear. The ice spies will play an important role once again. There are also lots of new special stages that I'm not familiar with at this year's Rally Monte Carlo. The fact that Sébastien Loeb is returning for this rally naturally makes it even more exciting for the many fans – but no doubt there are plenty of other drivers who want to fight for the win in these unpredictable conditions.”
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2“In my opinion, the Rally Monte Carlo is the most difficult and challenging rally of the year. Snow, rain, ice, dry asphalt – you get a real mixed bag of conditions here and never know what's around the corner. And on top of that the car is new. The conditions at the shakedown weren't the best today. It got very muddy very quickly, making it very slippery. Despite all that we were able to improve the tuning of the Polo R WRC. I'm looking forward to the rally starting properly on Thursday. Then we'll see how we measure up against our rivals.”Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9“The Rally Monte Carlo is one of the most difficult rallies, and definitely the perfect opener for the WRC season. Unfortunately I don't have the best track record here. In 2011 I retired after only a few metres on the first special stage, and last year I finished seventh. But I feel ready for this year. The shakedown was good for putting a few kilometres on the clock and testing a few tyre combinations. But it wasn't really that representative of the 'Monte'. With all the mud it was more like the Rally Great Britain. However, it will also be difficult to predict the conditions accurately in the coming days, since they change very quickly. For example, during the 'recce', the 51-kilometre stage was covered in snow on the first pass, but was bare asphalt on the second pass. So it will be interesting.”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director“The winter break was long enough, we're really looking forward to the Rally Monte Carlo and the coming days. We've brought plenty of excitement with us – a new car and a new look for the whole team. We're highly motivated to repeat last year's success, and are excited to see how well the new Polo R WRC does compared with its rivals. The shakedown is always the best opportunity to get used to the special conditions of a rally. We took advantage of that today. But the real start is on Thursday evening with the first two special stages.”