Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia end day one of the WRC season in second place overallExtremely tough conditions: wet asphalt compounds treacherous ice and snowLatvala/Anttila third, Mikkelsen/Fløene seventh
Volkswagen is second and third overall following the early exchanges at the Rally Monte Carlo. Day one of the opening round of the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) saw the drivers put through their paces, as they were constantly forced to make the transition between ice, snow and wet asphalt on what were already demanding night stages. Given the conditions, the starting order was a deciding factor in whether the drivers’ stage times were good or not so good. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), at the wheel of the new Polo R WRC, were embroiled in an exciting duel with Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (F/MC, Citroën), which ended 1:1 after the first 40.99 kilometres of the rally. At the end of the opening day, leader Loeb and second-placed Ogier were separated by just 13.3 seconds. In third place are Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) in the second of the second generation Polo R WRCs. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) ended day one of the legendary “Monte” in seventh place.
Quotes after day one of the Rally Monte Carlo
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1“Opening the route was anything but easy today. The conditions changed constantly, particularly on the first stage. Wet asphalt or black ice – you never knew exactly what was awaiting you. On the whole, there was little grip anywhere. As such, we took a particularly cautious approach and did not take any risks. That was clearly not the fastest method on the opening stage, but it was the right one.”
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2“I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a difficult start to the ‘Monte’ as this evening’s first stage. It was very difficult to judge the constantly changing levels of grip. You could easily lose minutes there, so I was still quite happy with our time. On stage two, the boot came open from time to time, as the latch was broken. That irritated me a bit. Apart from that, it was a decent start to the Rally Monte Carlo for us.”
Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9“It doesn’t get any more ‘Monte’ than it was today. Those were two incredibly difficult special stages to start the new season. The conditions changed all the time. There was a lot of ice and snow on stage one, then a lot of black ice on the second special stage. I just tried to get through safely and avoid taking any risks. We had four studded tyres and two winter tyres with us today. That was not the worst selection in the world.”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director“We saw today just how exciting and tense the ‘Monte’ can be. The duel between the two Sebs ended 1:1. Both Sébastien Ogier and Sébastien Loeb made the most of the conditions when they were out on the route. They both benefitted from their starting position on one stage, and were hampered on the other. The gap between the two of them is relatively small, by Rally Monte Carlo standards. I am sure this duel will entertain us over the coming days. However, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen also produced solid displays in extremely difficult conditions and did not take any unnecessary risks. Given the way we have started, it is going to be an exciting ‘Monte’ for us.“
And then there was ...
... a nostalgic look back. Who knows whether Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito and star guest Jacky Ickx discussed the 1985 Rally Dakar today? Their memories of it are very different in any case. Exactly 30 years ago to the day, father Karl-Friedrich Capito and son Jost won the truck competition at the legendary desert rally. Meanwhile, Jacky Ickx and his then co-driver Claude Brasseur, in their Porsche 959, were forced to retire from the car competition at the half-way point. Back then the route covered 7,470 kilometres of special stages from Paris through Algiers, to Dakar.