Title number 12 in the WRC - Volkswagen sets its sights on the manufacturers championship in Great Britain
Wolfsburg (21 October 2016). Mud, mud, glorious mud – Volkswagen has big plans at the Rally Great Britain in Wales. The works team from Wolfsburg could win the Manufacturers’ title for the fourth year in a row at the penultimate round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). To repeat the feat achieved in 2013, 2014 and 2015, and wrap up the title before the end of the season, regardless of other results, Volkswagen must maintain a lead of 43 points going into the final race. The lead currently stands at 62 points. Third and fifth place for Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) and Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) would suffice – as would victory for one of the two duos in the Polo R WRC. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N) are at the business end of the battle for second place in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship – they go into the final two rallies in Great Britain and Australia level on points with Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B, Hyundai) in second place behind world champions elect* Ogier/Ingrassia. Latvala/Anttila could also still finish runners-up in the world championship.
Demonstration drive with a world championship bonus: Ogier/Ingrassia line up as favourites
Newly-crowned world rally champions* for the fourth time in a row, Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia line up for a kind of demonstration drive with a world championship bonus in Great Britain. They could yet be the key in the race for the Manufacturers’ title. The champions are nominated for Volkswagen, together with Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila. Ogier/Ingrassia and the Polo R WRC have proven to be the winning combination for the last three years in Wales. In the two years prior to 2013, the rally in Wales was won by current Volkswagen duo Latvala/Anttila, who were driving for M-Sport-Ford at the time.
Five-way battle for second place – Mikkelsen/Jæger and Latvala/Anttila in the thick of it
Five duos go into the Rally Great Britain still with the chance of finishing second overall in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship. In pole position is the Volkswagen pairing of Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger. They are currently second behind world champions elect Ogier/Ingrassia. Level with them on points, but in third place due to poorer individual results, are their favourite adversaries and friends Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B, Hyundai).
Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ, Hyundai) and Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (E/E, Hyundai) are 13 and 16 points back in fourth and fifth place respectively. Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila in the third Polo R WRC are 23 points off second place in sixth. 25 points are on offer for a win, with a further three points up for grabs for the fastest time on the closing Power Stage.
Classic reloaded: once through the Welsh forests in the opposite direction, and a foray into England
Whether “Sweet Lamb”, “Hafren” or “Myherin” – a Rally Great Britain without these classic stages are simply unthinkable. This year, however the first two of the stages will be tackled in the opposite direction for the first time since 1995, and “Myherin” for the first time ever.
These may not be the most technically demanding of the route through the Welsh forests, but the pace notes must still be spot on. The main reason for this is the unpredictable weather in the UK.
Fog, rain, snow and ice transform the gravel into mud and sludge, resulting in rapidly changing levels of grip at the Rally Great Britain. For the first time this millennium, the drivers and co-drivers will also visit England – although only briefly. For 1.80 kilometres, to be precise. That is the length of the “Cholmondeley Castle” stage, which rounds off Saturday’s action. The last time the Rally Great Britain took place in England was in 1999.