Mikkelsen-Ogier-Neuville show at the second round of the WRCSecond and third: Volkswagen on course for two podiums at the Rally SwedenTo be concluded: just 9.6 seconds separating the top three
Full throttle instead of a tactical exchange – Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) and their team-mates Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) are second and third in their Volkswagen Polo R WRCs at the Rally Sweden, and well within striking distance of overall victory. A thrilling three-way battle for the lead has kept spectators and teams alike on the edge of their seat, and sees the two Volkswagen duos well placed going into the final showdown at the second round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). With 46.76 kilometres against the clock on Sunday, Mikkelsen/Fløene trail leaders Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B, Hyundai) by just 1.5 seconds. Ogier/Ingrassia follow, just 8.1 seconds back in third place. After 261 of the total 308 kilometres of special stage, the top three are within the equivalent of just 380 metres of each other.
With perfect conditions in the Värmland forests, day two of the Rally Sweden featured roughly 135 kilometres against the clock on ice and snow – including the classics “Fredriksberg”, “Rämmen” and “Vargåsen”, with the infamous “Colin’s Crest” jump.
Quotes after day two of the Rally Sweden
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1“I am really extremely happy with my performance today. Julien and I gave it everything. We have been right on the very limit on every stage. I am now looking forward to tomorrow, as it promises to be one of the most exciting final days in recent times. Compliments to Thierry Neuville, who was equally impressive as my team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen. However, the boys know to look out, as I am here to win!”
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2“We tried to use the day to test various set-ups. After ending yesterday well off the pace, today was a good opportunity to do this. Tomorrow we will try to push hard on the Power Stage and pick up a few points towards the Drivers’ Championship. Then it will be a matter of moving on from Sweden and focussing fully on the next challenge in Mexico.”
Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9“That was an extremely exciting day for us at the Rally Sweden. The situation was rather unusual for us at first: having to defend a lead. I made two mistakes that cost us time in the morning. The biggest of these was spinning on the ‘Vargåsen’ stage after planting the front of our Polo in a snow bank. I had to turn round, which was a complicated procedure and took 20 seconds. However, the afternoon was far more to my liking again, and we made up a lot of time. We made the most of our starting position and there is not much between us and first place. That remains our main goal. The same thing applies tomorrow, as has applied throughout the entire rally for us: flat out, no tactics.”
Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director“A straightforward race for victory, with first and third place separated by just a few seconds – that was rallying at its very best today. The drivers could not employ any tactics today and just had to drive flat out right from the first metre. That is exactly what the spectators want to see. Our pairings of Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Fløene and Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia drove fantastically in the battle for the lead. However, Thierry Neuville also deserves great respect, as he produced a fantastic performance. This three-way battle will keep us on the edge of our seats right up until the finish. For me, it is impossible to predict who will win tomorrow. It is like roulette – any number could come up trumps.”
And then there was ...
... Colin’s Crest. Both the infamous crest and the prize awarded for the furthest jump there are named after the ever-courageous Colin McRae. Mikkelsen and Fløene showed that they also have plenty of bottle with a 41-metre jump – the longest on the first run. The sensors on the Polo R WRC registered a speed of 151.23 km/h as they took off. For comparison: their team-mate Sébastien Ogier left the ground at 135.87 km/h and landed 34 metres down the road. The Colin’s Crest Award went to Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) with a 44-metre jump on the second run.