Rally Great Britain.

27 – 30 October 2016.

 

Red-hot coverage, exclusive background reports, interviews, the latest photos – simply everything on the 2016 Rally Great Britain. You are always up to date here.

Timetable

 

Note: All times in the timetable are given in CEST/CET (as of: 03/10/2016).

Thursday, 27/10/2016

Time SS Name Liaison SS km Liaison
09:00   Shakedown (Clocaenog)      

Friday, 28/10/2016

Time SS Name Liaison SS km Liaison
09:20 SS 01 Myherin 1 133.83 km 31.82 km  
10:11 SS 02 Sweet Lamb 1 06.68 km 04.24 km  
10:24 SS 03 Hafren 1 02.80 km 35.14 km  
12:15 SS 04 Dyfnant 1 51.38 km 17.91 km 46.75 km
14:54 SS 05 Myherin 2 36.55 km 31.82 km  
15:45 SS 06 Sweet Lamb 2 06.68 km 04.24 km  
15:58 SS 07 Hafren 2 02.80 km 35.14 km  
17:49 SS 08 Dyfnant 2 51.38 km 17.91 km 107.49 km

Saturday, 29/10/2016

Time SS Name Liaison SS km Liaison
09:18 SS 09 Pantperthog 1 109.44 km 09.64 km  
09:51 SS 10 Dyfi 1 08.12 km 21.12 km  
10:27 SS 11 Gartheiniog 1 04.17 km 11.34 km  
12:04 SS 12 Pantperthog 2 05.53 km 09.64 km  
12:37 SS 13 Dyfi 2 08.12 km 21.12 km  
13:13 SS 14 Gartheinog 2 04.17 km 11.34 km  
14:18 SS 15 Aberhirnant 38.37 km 13.91 km 80.81 km
16:27 SS 16 Cholmondeley Castle 00.96 km 01.80 km 38.85 km

Sunday, 30/10/2016

Time SS Name Liaison SS km Liaison
09:31 SS 17 Clocaenog 1 42.07 km 07.70 km  
10:08 SS 18 Brenig 1 17.91 km 07.93 km  
10:28 SS 19 Alwen 1 03.16 km 10.41 km  
11:33 SS 20 Clocaenog 2 38.38 km 07.70 km  
12:14 SS 21 Alwen 2 22.77 km 10.41 km 03.23 km
13:08 SS 22 Brenig 2 (Powerstage) 05.05 km 07.93 km 53.57 km

Sunday, 30/10/2016


Images Day 3 (15)


Final report

Ogier wins in Wales: A round dozen!

 

They did it in 2013, then repeated the feat in 2014 and 2015. And what about 2016? You guessed it: world champion, world champion and world champion*. In the Drivers’, Co-Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championships. A full house. And because three times four is 12, that makes it a round dozen.

 

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were already guaranteed to be world champions in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ competitions after the previous rally in Spain, and it was the same duo that presented Volkswagen with the title in the Manufacturers Championship in Great Britain – with a win, of course. Sunday’s victory is the fourth in a row in Wales for the Frenchmen, and their first on gravel in 2016. And it is more than just another win. It is a win that once again emphatically underlines the dominance of the Volkswagen duo, who led from start to finish. Ogier took the lead on stage one, and never really looked like surrendering top spot for the remaining 21 stages. Whenever his closest rival, Ott Tänak (EST, M-Sport-Ford), made up a few seconds, he always had the answer. Despite coming under a little pressure on the final day, the Frenchman held his nerve to finish 10.2 seconds ahead of Tänak. Thierry Neuville (B, Hyundai) completed the podium. The Belgian is now second in the Drivers’ Championship with just one rally remaining – much to the frustration of Andreas Mikkelsen.

 

Having occupied second place for almost the entire season, the Norwegian could do little more than watch on as Neuville moved ahead of him in the overall standings in Wales. The drive shaft on his Volkswagen Polo R WRC broke after just a few special stages on Friday, leaving the Norwegian with a mountain to climb.

 

AM did, however, put pedal to the metal on the closing Power Stage to pick up two bonus points, which could yet prove valuable come the end of the season. Anyone who knows Mikkelsen knows he is not one to give up easily. The Norwegian will fight right down to the final meter down under in the battle to finish runner-up in the world championship.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala can no longer finish second in the Drivers’ Championship. The Finn was also the victim of a damaged drive shaft on Friday, and lost a lot of time as a consequence. However, Latvala still has cause for celebration: he too did his bit to ensure that Volkswagen secured a fourth Manufacturers’ title. The final rally of the 2016 season takes place in three weeks, from 18 to 20 November, in Australia.

 

*Subject to confirmation from the FIA.


Final classification after 22 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time / Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 3h 14m 30.2s  
2 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +10.2s  
3 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul +1m 35.4s  
4 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +1m 54.9s  
5 K. Meeke / P. Nagle +2m 35.2s  
6 D. Sordo / M. Martí +4m 02.6s  
7 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +4m 28.3s  
8 M. Østberg / O. Fløene +4m 38.3s  
9 S. Lefebvre / G. de Turckheim +7m 12.2s  
10 E. Camilli / B. Veillas +8m 19.3s  
...      
12 A. Mikkelsen / A. Jæger +9m 44.0s  

Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“Anything but a matter of course.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

“This victory is fantastic. I am so delighted that we have wrapped up the Manufacturers’ title for our fantastic team. It was hard work hanging onto our lead in these extremely slippery conditions here in Wales. Ott Tänak put us under a lot of pressure, so Julien and I had to push ourselves to the limit all weekend. But we did it. Looking back, we have all been on an incredible journey over the past four years. To have such a run of success is definitely something very special – particularly in motorsport, where so many different factors come into play. I am very happy that I opted for Volkswagen before anyone knew where this WRC adventure would take us.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“Looking at today on its own, we did our job: we overtook Østberg and ended the rally in seventh place. On the whole, we were obviously hoping for a lot more from the weekend and are not happy with this result. On the other hand, Volkswagen claimed its fourth Manufacturers’ title in a row thanks to our team-mate Sébastien Ogier’s win. That is obviously a fantastic success for the entire team here and at the headquarters in Hannover. We will still push hard again in Australia and look to improve our record for this season.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9

“I am very pleased for our Volkswagen team that we have once again been crowned world champions in the Manufacturers’ Championship. That is no less than we deserve, and I am pleased to have contributed a little here and there. From a personal point of view, I am obviously disappointed with the outcome of the Rally Great Britain in general. We wanted to battle with Thierry Neuville for second place in the championship here, but unfortunately that was not to be. A drive shaft was damaged on Friday and we consequently lost many minutes. That is a real shame, but that is motorsport. These things can happen. We then focused fully on the Power Stage and really gave it our all. We could not have done any more and came away with two points. We will now have to do our very best in Australia to finish second in the world championship. That is exactly what we plan to do.”

 

Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“A performance worthy of world champions from Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, and a fantastic day for Volkswagen. To win all three titles in the World Rally Championship for the fourth time in a row is anything but a matter of course. It takes a lot of work from the entire team to be so successful. I am extremely proud of the whole team. Drivers, co-drivers, engineers, mechanics, logisticians, the medical department and catering team, meteo and weather crew, and team management – everyone has played an important role. The dedication they show Volkswagen, and their team spirit, cannot be beaten.”


Number of the rallye

58

 

Bob Beales, Mark Murphy, Mark Walters and Co. run a 58-year-old Volkswagen classic in the national championship, which is held at the same time as round 12 of the world championship in Great Britain. However, “Bertie”, as the Beetle is affectionately known by his team, suffered a technical issue on Saturday evening. A ball joint on the track rod had broken. Volkswagen Motorsport did not have the right spare part for “Team Colorado”, but Gerard Jan de Jongh and Richard Browne, whose regular positions are race engineer for Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen, were able to help out with their engineering know-how and the right tool. “Bertie” returned to action at the Rally Great Britain on Sunday.


Day 3 in Great Britain.

Saturday, 29/10/2016


Images Day 2 (12)


Day Report

Seb remains on course for the win, Volkswagen closes in on the title.

 

There was a historic moment at the end of day two of the Rally Great Britain: for the first time since 1999, and thus the first time this millennium, the WRC paid a visit to England. It may only have been for a 1.8-kilometre special stage – but it still provided quite a challenge. The “Cholmondeley Castle” spectator stage created a magnificent rally atmosphere. Set against the backdrop of a medieval castle, the sprint stage wound its way through the surrounding park, creating some picture-postcard images as dusk fell. An appropriate ending to what had been a difficult day – for the drivers, at least.

Damp routes, thick fog, roads that were slippery in places, and an itinerary that was no less demanding – these were the ingredients that made day two of the rally such a huge challenge. Let’s start with the most important news: Sébastien Ogier mastered all these challenges in his Volkswagen Polo R WRC.

The weather gods were feeling generous. No more rain on day two in Wales. And yet, it was still damp, thanks to yesterday’s downpours. Thick fog only served to exacerbate conditions, making them similar to the conditions experienced on day one. Slippery roads, with more grip in some places and less in others – all in all, extremely challenging. On top of this came another aspect, which added to the already huge challenge. No service. From morning to evening, there was no opportunity to change tyres or make alterations to the car.

None of this was able to stop Ogier from defending his lead. In a manner worthy of the world champion, the Frenchman controlled the field and managed his lead – without having to push himself to the limit. His closest rival remains Ott Tänak (EST, M-Sport), who continues to find no way past the newly-crowned four-time world champion*. Whenever the Estonian managed to gain the odd second, Ogier always had the right answer and made the time back up on the following special stage. The lead going into the final day stands at about half a minute. Ogier is not only well-placed to claim his first success on gravel in 2016, but the Frenchman is also steering Volkswagen towards its next title. Should Seb win the rally, the Manufacturers’ title would be destined for Wolfsburg for the fourth time in a row – and that is precisely Ogier’s goal, as he was keen to emphasise again yesterday.

The way things currently stand, Jari-Matti Latvala could also contribute a point or two in the Manufacturers’ Championship. Having once again been plagued by misfortune yesterday, as has so often been the case this season, JML produced an impressive performance on day two and mixed it with the front-runners – as far as the stage times are concerned, at least. The Finn is currently eighth, but has his sights set on seventh. Just 7.2 seconds separate him from Norway’s Mads Østberg (M-Sport).

Andreas Mikkelsen had already had to abandon any hope of a podium finish in Wales on Friday, but the Norwegian was also in no mood to wallow in self-pity on Saturday. He clocked some fast times, despite not pushing himself to the limit. The only opportunity for Mikkelsen to pick up points in Wales is the closing Power Stage on Sunday, and AM used today as something of a warm-up.

As well as the Power Stage, the third and final day of the Rally Great Britain also features a further five stages, with 52.08 kilometres against the clock. And who knows, perhaps history will be made again tomorrow. Volkswagen will be out to play its part.

*Subject to confirmation from the FIA.


Classification after 16 of 22 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time / Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 2h 42m 16.4s  
2 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +33.8s  
3 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul +1m 34.5s  
4 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +1m 47.1s  
5 K. Meeke / P. Nagle +2m 29.5s  
6 D. Sordo / M. Martí +3m 36.0s  
7 M. Østberg / O. Fløene +4m 15.0s  
8 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +4m 22.2s  
9 S. Lefebvre / G. de Turckheim +6m 52.7s  
10 E. Camilli / B. Veillas +7m 35.6s  
...      
14 A. Mikkelsen / A. Jæger +9m 36.3s  

Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“They have not won yet.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“On the whole I am very happy with our day. It could hardly have gone better for Julien and me. We went on the attack and tried to make the most of our start position, which gives us a slight advantage here. We know that even our soft tyre compound is a little too hard for the conditions in Wales. For this reason, we wanted to open a good lead ahead of the finale on Sunday, in order to finish ahead of Ott Tänak. On the other hand, the fact that we had a harder tyre compound than our rivals meant we had absolutely no problem completing the hundred kilometres of special stage without a tyre change. Tomorrow is definitely going to be exciting, that much is certain. Ott is quick here at the rally in Great Britain. However, I am very determined to do my bit towards winning the Manufacturers’ title for the Volkswagen team, hopefully with a win.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“As far as the driving is concerned, today was a good day. Like yesterday, we soon got up to speed and then tried to go about making up some of the time that we lost yesterday. We obviously only had limited opportunities to make any progress in the overall standings. Despite this, we did make up over a minute on Mads Østberg and will try to take seventh place from him tomorrow and to do our bit for the team in the Manufacturers’ Championship.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“Today was all about finding our rhythm again. Having driven almost the whole of Friday with just rear-wheel drive, we first had to get used to the grip you have with four-wheel drive again. We managed to do that, and set some good stage times here and there. We had to change our driving style a little again in the afternoon – that is a feature of the Rally Great Britain, as the routes become more slippery in the afternoon and you have to choose a different racing line. All in all, we are looking forward to tomorrow. We want to attack on the Power Stage, in order to score as many points as possible in the battle for second place in the world championship.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“All in all, we are happy with day two of the Rally Great Britain. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia defended their lead and got the maximum out of themselves and the car. They take a good lead into Sunday’s final six special stages – but they have not won yet. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila and Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger bounced back from their misfortune yesterday to make up time and positions on their closest rivals. The Rally Great Britain has already shown how tough it is, and everyone in the team is wide awake and determined to do a flawless job and wrap up the title for Volkswagen tomorrow.”


Number of the day

4

During the three days of the Rally Great Britain, only four services are scheduled, instead of the usual eight or nine. As such, Friday and Saturday were defined by two extraordinary marathons – man and machine had to survive a total of 278.13 kilometres against the clock without a midday service on either day.


Day 2 in Great Britain.

Friday, 28/10/2016


Images Day 1 (15)


Day Report

Cushion for Seb, misfortune for JML and AM.

Surprise, Surprise – rain in the forests of Wales. And fog. Both made for quite slippery roads and extremely challenging conditions. Good news for Sébastien Ogier. On the one hand, because the newly-crowned world champion is really quick in these complicated conditions – and on the other hand, because the early starting position allocated to the championship leader is not so much of a disadvantage compared to other gravel rallies, but more of an advantage.

 

Seb took full advantage out on the route. Without taking too many risks, he pulled clear of the opposition in the morning before extending his lead in the afternoon. Even Ott Tänak (EST, M-Sport), who was the only driver able to keep pace with Seb in the early stages, dropped a considerable amount of time. 7.7 seconds initially became 15.1 seconds, and this had increased to 37.3 seconds by the end of the day. This was a clear statement of intent from Ogier: having completed the asphalt slam with victories in Germany, France and Spain, his sights are now set firmly on a first gravel victory of 2016 in Wales. Plus, the title in the Manufacturers’ Championship is within touching distance for Volkswagen. Ogier is determined to help ensure that the Manufacturers’ title heads to Wolfsburg for the fourth time in a row.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala also wanted to do his bit – and, for a long time, things were looking good for the Finn. Despite starting later than some of his rivals, Latvala was really quick and running third for much of the day. However, the bad luck that has plagued JML appears to have followed him to Wales and has scuppered any hopes of finishing on the podium, for now. Jari-Matti lost a lot of time on the penultimate special stage and had to settle for eighth place at the end of the day. The cause: a broken drive shaft.

 

The same fate befell the third Volkswagen driver, Andreas Mikkelsen – or, to be precise, the Norwegian’s car. Another broken drive shaft dashed AM’s hopes of a podium in Wales just a few stages into the rally. As there was only a tyre service scheduled for midday, he had no chance to repair the damage.

 

Mikkelsen already trails his team-mates in first place by eight minutes and 58.6 seconds going into the weekend. The time lost is particularly bitter for AM, because it means he falls behind in the battle to finish runner-up in this year’s world championship. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) is now best placed to clinch second place.

 

Day one of the Rally Great Britain is over and, having completed about 178 kilometres against the clock, the drivers and co-drivers have already covered half of the total distance. Tomorrow features 100 kilometres, spread over six stages of special stages.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“I am jolly glad to have made it through the day.”


Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“The first stage this morning was extremely difficult and slippery. The priority there was to make it through to finish in one piece. After that, the grip was noticeably better - particularly for us as the first car onto the route. I think that goes someway to explaining the large lead we had opened up over the majority of the opposition by midday. I am jolly glad to have made it through the day. It is obviously a great shame for my team-mates that they struggled with issues. I am confident that our team will get to grips with the problems, and that we will all be able to push hard again with the Polo R WRC tomorrow. Winning the Manufacturers’ title is the top priority for us – without our fantastic team, Julien and I will not be world champions. We want to give them something back by winning in Wales.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I obviously cannot help but be disappointed. We basically made a good start to the rally and soon found a good pace, despite the conditions, which were not easy. The priority was to be ahead of the Hyundais, in order to score more points than our rivals in the Manufacturers’ Championship. We were on course to do precisely that. Unfortunately, the rear-right drive shaft broke on stage seven. That meant we were no longer competitive for the rest of the day. We must now shake off this disappointment, but will push hard again tomorrow.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“I’m incredibly disappointed. I would have preferred to have been challenging for second place in the world championship here. I had a really good start to the rally, despite taking things rather cautiously. Unfortunately, however, I was denied by a broken driveshaft at the front-right of the car on stage four, after which I only had rear-wheel drive. Instead, I ended up losing endless amounts of time. There is not a lot that Anders and I can do here now, apart from to go for broke on Sunday’s Power Stage. We will obviously do that, and then really go for it in Australia.”

Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“A pleasing, and yet at the same time difficult, day for Volkswagen at the Rally Great Britain. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia did a fantastic job today. They took the initiative and the lead from the word go and then opened up a good lead. Hats off to them. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger and Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila, who are all still battling for second place in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship, suffered technical setbacks today. We will now analyse exactly what caused these problems. However, all four will certainly keep fighting to the end and score as many points as possible.”


Classification after 8 of 22 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time / Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 1h 44m 31.2s  
2 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +37.2s  
3 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul +1m 09.0s  
4 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +1m 12.8s  
5 K. Meeke / P. Nagle +1m 14.8s  
6 D. Sordo / M. Martí +2m 07.2s  
7 M. Østberg / O. Fløene +2m 37.3s  
8 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +3m 43.6s  
9 S. Lefebvre / G. de Turckheim +4m 31.6s  
10 E. Lappi / J. Ferm +4m 55.0s  
...      
19 A. Mikkelsen / A. Jæger +8m 58.6s  

Number of the day

40

The Volkswagen team received a visit on the Wednesday before the Rally Great Britain from participants in the “Dare to be different” campaign, which was launched by ex-Formula 1 and DTM driver Susie Wolff. “Dare to be different” supports talented females in male-dominated professions, such as motorsport. At the service park in Deeside, roughly 40 girls aged between eight and 12 were given a tour behind the scenes at Volkswagen – including from Richard Browne, Race Engineer for Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jæger – and were even allowed to sit in the Polo R WRC.


Midday report

Ott vs. Seb – Exciting battle for the lead in Wales.

 

An exciting morning on day one of the Rally Great Britain in Wales. Four stages in, one thing looks certain: the only people likely to be challenging for victory – as it stands, at least – are Sébastien Ogier in the Polo R WRC and Ott Tänak in his M-Sport Ford.

 

Admittedly, the conditions were far from easy this morning. Fog and damp roads, typical of Wales at this time of year, did not encourage aggressive driving, with many WRC drivers opting to play it safe rather than end up fishing their car out of the undergrowth at such an early stage – especially given the fact that there is no service at midday, only a tyre change. Even world champion Seb Ogier took it easy by his own admission. However, there was no sign of this in his stage times. The Frenchman won the two opening stages, seemingly with ease.

 

However, towards the end of the morning loop, which included such classics as "Myherin" and "Sweet Lamb", Ott Tänak raised his game. He won stages three and four to reduce Ogier’s lead to 7.7 seconds. No need for Seb to panic yet, but the afternoon, when the drivers return for a second crack at the same stages, could develop into a thrilling battle between the two rally aces. Jari-Matti Latvala is currently a fine third in the Polo R WRC, having taken it slightly easier earlier in the day. The Finn will have one eye on the drivers behind him, however: with Kris Meeke and Hayden Paddon just 0.2 seconds back, he has two quick drivers virtually hanging onto his bumper.

 

Meanwhile, the rally in Wales has been far from promising so far for Andreas Mikkelsen. His Polo R WRC had an issue with the driveshaft, which cost the Norwegian a lot of time on stage four. A big setback in the battle to finish runner-up in the world championship. 

 

 

Standings after SS 4:

 

1. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) 52m 04.7s

2. Ott Tänak (Ford) +7.7s

3. Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #9) +32.3s

4. Kris Meeke (Citroën) +32.5s

5. Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) +32.7s


Day 1 in Great Britain.

Thursday, 27/10/2016


Images Opening Day (7)


Shakedown report

Volkswagen drivers on the pace in Shakedown.

Volkswagen is well prepared ahead of the start of the Rally Great Britain in Wales. Champions elect* Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) finished fourth, Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N) sixth and Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) seventh in the Shakedown ahead of the first all-gravel round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) since July. The main focus during “free practice” was on the conditions at this classic rally: unlike in previous years, the competitors found the route to be astonishingly dry. Instead of mud and sludge, the Shakedown took place on 3.32 kilometres of damp gravel, which offered good grip.

The Rally Great Britain opens this evening with the Ceremonial Start in Colwyn Bay. The action itself kicks off on Friday with the first of 22 special stages. The WRC teams have erected their tents in the Service Park in the Welsh town of Deeside, just under an hour’s drive from Manchester.

Volkswagen could add even more success to what has already been a golden October in England: should the Wolfsburg-based carmaker maintain 43 of its 62-point lead over rival Hyundai, it would be crowned world champion in the Manufacturers’ Championship at the end of the Rally Great Britain.

*Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA.



Shakedown result

01. Ott Tänak/Raigo Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford, 1m 59.7s
02. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL), Citroën, + 0.9s
03. Craig Breen/Scott Martin (IRL/GB), Citroën, + 1.0s
04. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen, + 1.1s
05. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai, + 1.3s
06. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N), Volkswagen, + 1.5s
07. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen + 1.9s


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“Slippery, but unproblematic.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“The weather seems to be much better this year than it normally is here in Wales. However, parts of the route can still be muddy and slippery. This is a good sign for me, as the Rally Great Britain is probably the only chance Julien and I still have of winning a gravel rally this year. The Shakedown certainly went well, and the Polo is set up perfectly. Saturday will be particularly interesting, as we have to complete 100 kilometres of special stage without a tyre change. I’m glad we do not have to tackle this challenge on day one. Otherwise, I’m as happy as I always am to return to Great Britain: the big crowds, nice routes, and the great tradition – that is what makes this rally special for us drivers. And the opportunity to help the team clinch the Manufacturers’ title with a win is a huge motivation.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“It was slippery, but unproblematic – that is how I would sum up the Shakedown at the Rally Great Britain. We did three runs in total. We tried out a few things on the first and second run, and found the right set-up on the third. When it has not rained, the surface here can become very smooth, and you have to adapt to that. I think we are ready and looking forward to the Welsh forests.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“A super feeling in the car and a good first run, which is always important – we are very happy with the Shakedown. The systems are running perfectly so we are ready for the Rally Great Britain and should be quick here. It is going to be an exciting battle between us and Thierry Neuville for second place in the world championship. We are looking forward to it. However, Thierry is not our only opponent. As such, I can only recommend fans to watch the Rally Great Britain in Wales. It’s going to be exciting.”

Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“The Rally Great Britain has very unique challenges. The gravel transforms into mud and sludge when it rains – this is unlike anywhere else in the rallying world. This year, however, the weather is incredibly stable and there has really not been very much rain. As such, there is much more grip out on the stages than in recent years. We took full advantage of the Shakedown to adapt to these conditions. We are well prepared and looking forward to the Rally Great Britain, at which we would dearly love to wrap up the Manufacturers’ Championship before the end of the season.”


Opening day in Great Britain.

Wednesday, 26/10/2016


Rally Great Britain preview. The video.


Mud

Tuesday, 25/10/2016


Four for all? All for four!

Jari-Matti Latvala, Jari-Matti Latvala, Sébastien Ogier, Sébastien Ogier and Sébastien Ogier: the list of winners in Great Britain over the past five years paints a clear picture: the Volkswagen Motorsport drivers feel right at home in Great Britain. And this despite the fact that the area around the service park in Deeside is not at its most inviting at this time of year – unless you’re a big fan of precipitation, that is. After all, there is not only plenty of moisture during this season, but also a wide range of varieties: rain, fog, snow, ice - the Wales Rally GB has had a bit of everything, which is what makes it regarded as one of the most complicated rallies around. Should the weather change, so does the surface and the level of grip. And the weather changes frequently in Wales, transforming gravel into mud and sludge - quickly and unpredictably.

 

As such, gravel is not simply gravel in the UK - and maybe this is a good thing for Ogier. The Frenchman not only wrapped up the title* in the Drivers’ Championship in Spain, but also completed the asphalt slam. In other words, Seb has won every rally held either completely or partially on asphalt in 2016. However, he is still looking for win number one on gravel this season. The goal is to settle the score in Wales - for his own ego, but more importantly for the team. Having clinched the Drivers’ Championship, with races to spare, sights are now set on winning the Manufacturers’ title in Great Britain - it would be the fourth in a row.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala is also keen to help give Volkswagen Motorsport more cause for celebration in Wales. However, the Finn also still harbours ambitions of finishing in the top three in the Drivers’ Championship – and rightly so. Latvala emphatically showed his impressive pace again in Spain, winning seven special stages, including the Power Stage. Victories in 2011 and 2012 (with Ford) are evidence of just how comfortable the Finn feels in Great Britain. To finish on the podium in Wales, however, JML must finally shake off the misfortune and punctures that have plagued him this year. Mathematically, he could still clinch second place in the Drivers’ Championship. And it is this runner-up spot that the third Volkswagen driver, Andreas Mikkelsen, is determined to hang on to.

 

AM unintentionally made the battle for second place exciting again by crashing out in Spain. Mikkelsen travels to the UK level on points with his closest rival Thierry Neuville, and has already announced his intention to go on the attack. This will be easier said than done. The routes may not be the most technically demanding, but mistakes are punished ruthlessly by the unforgiving trees in the Welsh forests. The low grip levels and often limited visibility frequently play their part in conjuring up errors.

 

In total, the rally features 332.01 kilometres against the clock, spread over 22 special stages. Spectators can also look forward to a few changes compared to last season. Classic stages “Sweet Lamb”, “Hafren” and “Myherin” will be run in the opposite direction this year. Furthermore, the drivers and co-drivers will also pay England a visit for the first time this millennium - albeit a brief one. To be precise: 1.80 kilometres - that is the length of the “Cholmondeley Castle” stage, which rounds off Saturday’s action. The last time part of the Rally Great Britain took part in England was back in 1999. 

 

* Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA. 


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“However, I remain just as motivated.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“I am very happy to travel to the Rally Great Britain as world champion. However, I remain just as motivated, as we also want to defend the Manufacturers’ title for Volkswagen. The Wales Rally GB is one of the rallies that is the most steeped in history. It took me a while to find my feet in Wales. The learning process was probably longer here than at any other rally. I have won here three times since joining Volkswagen. After everything I’ve been through in Wales, I can now say that I feel right at home here. An important factor is, as it is every year, the weather. If no rain is predicted in the weather forecasts, you can actually still count on there being rain. I expect very wet and foggy routes, which are very typical for this time of year there. The fans are absolutely crazy, as thousands of spectators turned out to cheer us on every year, despite the poor weather. I am particularly looking forward to that.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“The rally in Wales is one of my very favourite rallies. As I was really quick on the gravel stages in Spain last time out, I will also be quick in Wales. I have no doubt about that. However, the season has been really difficult for me so far. As such, I hope I can finish strongly at the final two rounds of the season and make it into the top three in the Drivers’ Championship come the end of the year. The surface can be very tricky in Wales. If it has rained heavily overnight, the tracks can be very greasy and slippery for the cars starting further down the order. That is typical for Wales. However, this year’s rally starts two weeks earlier than in recent years, so I hope it will not rain quite as much. I drove my first rally there in 2002, so have greater experience in Wales than at any other rally – I am certain that I can challenge for victory there.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“I particularly like the layout of the special stages at the Rally Great Britain. I always enjoy driving there. Driving the Polo at the limit on the muddy, slippery surface is very tricky. Like every year, we will have to be prepared for rain and difficult conditions in Wales. The crash in Spain meant I dropped valuable points in the championship and my friend Thierry Neuville has drawn level on points with me in the Drivers’ Championship. It is going to be a tough battle with him for second place. My goal is obviously to be second come the end of the season. Anders and I will focus solely on our own performance and try to get the maximum out of the final two races. We have already had a few great battles with Thierry this season, and Wales will be no different.”

 

Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“After Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia’s fantastic success in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship, we are now in a position to wrap up the Manufacturers’ title in the World Rally Championship at the Rally Great Britain, regardless of other results. That is unquestionably our goal. As such, we are very motivated and confident that we can win the title in Wales. To do so, everyone in the team must go about their work in a focused and conscientious manner. Andreas Mikkelsen and Jari-Matti Latvala can both still finish runner-up in the Drivers’ Championship – we will also be working hard to achieve this goal. Both have fond memories of this classic, and both launched their careers here.”


Background

“You can experience all four seasons in just one week.”

Three questions for … Timo Gottschalk, Meteo Coordinator

 

What exactly does the Volkswagen Motorsport weather crew analyse, and where does your data and information come from?

Timo Gottschalk: “We have various people out on the stages. They measure the ground and air temperature, as well as the wind speed. However, they also keep an eye on the sky, measure the strength of the rain, see how damp and muddy the surfaces of the roads are, and check out the state of the ruts after the first loop. I receive all this data and enter it in a list. Our meteorologist Silke Hansen then uses this data to make her forecasts.”

 

How important is the weather crew at the Rally Great Britain?

Timo Gottschalk: “The tyre selection – hard or soft – is one of the key factors at the Rally Great Britain. To allow drivers to make this decision, they have to know what to expect out on the route: what are the ground and air temperatures? How damp or dry is it? The weather crew provides all this information.”

 

This year’s Rally Great Britain is taking place two weeks earlier than last season. How will this affect the special stages?

Timo Gottschalk: “As far as the weather is concerned, it should be a bit more pleasant and not quite as cold as last year. The ground temperature could also be a bit higher. However, two weeks is not an awful lot – the weather could be exactly the same as it was last year. In Wales, it is generally very unsettled and hard to predict. You can experience all four seasons in just one week.”


Number for the Rally

555

The battle between Finland and France is an eternal one in the World Rally Championship. Ahead of the 555th race in the WRC, France currently has 181 wins to its name, Finland 176. The two nations, which are by far the most successful in the world championship, will be represented by the likes of Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala in Volkswagen colours at the Rally Great Britain. When it comes to stage wins, Latvala and Ogier are virtually neck and neck: “JML” has amassed 464, the champion elect has 462.