Rally Australia.

17 – 20 November 2016.

 

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

Timetable

 

Note: All times in the timetable are given in CET (as of: 28/09/2016).

Wednesday, 16/11/2016

Time SS Name Liaison SS km Liaison
22:00   Shakedown (Boyds Deviation), 330 min.      

Thursday, 17/11/2016

Time SS Name Liaison SS km Liaison
21:56 SS 01 Utungun 1 67.12 km 07.88 km  
22:12 SS 02 Bakers Creek 1 04.12 km 16.75 km  
22:40 SS 03 Northbank 1 06.61 km 08.42 km  
23:48 SS 04 Newry 1 47.61 km 25.30 km  

Friday, 18/11/2016

Time SS Name Liaison SS km Liaison
00:41 SS 05 Raceway 1 20.02 km 01.37 km 19.26 km
03:10 SS 06 Utungun 2 67.12 km 07.88 km  
03:26 SS 07 Bakers Creek 2 04.12 km 16.75 km  
03:54 SS 08 Northbank 2 06.61 km 08.42 km  
05:02 SS 09 Newry 2 47.61 km 25.30 km 31.40 km
07:00 SS 10 Destination NSW 1 06.79 km 01.27 km  
07:08 SS 11 Destination NSW 2 06.79 km 01.27 km 06.33 km
22:28 SS 12 Nambucca 1 62.36 km 50.80 km  
23:37 SS 13 Valla 1 10.18 km 14.84 km  

Saturday, 19/11/2016

Time SS Name Liaison SS km Liaison
00:35 SS 14 Raceway 2 35.10 km 01.37 km 19.26 km
03:16 SS 15 Nambucca 2 62.36 km 50.80 km  
04:25 SS 16 Valla 2 10.18 km 14.84 km 46.48 km
06:48 SS 17 Destination NSW 3 06.79 km 01.27 km  
06:56 SS 18 Destination NSW 4 00.52 km 01.27 km 06.33 km
21:43 SS 19 Settles Reverse 1 17.29 km 06.20 km  
22:06 SS 20 Bucca 07.36 km 31.90 km 10.88 km
23:38 SS 21 Wedding Bells 1 01.26 km 06.44 km 32.78 km

Sunday, 20/11/2016

Time SS Name Liaison SS km Liaison
02:15 SS 22 Settles Reverse 2 17.29 km 06.20 km 05.86 km
03:08 SS 23 Wedding Bells 2 (Powerstage) 01.26 km 06.44 km 32.78 km

Sunday, 20/11/2016


Images Day 3 (10)


Final report

Goodbye… - Impressive farewell from the WRC.

 

Volkswagen could not have wished for a better farewell to the WRC. Andreas Mikkelsen claimed an impressive second win of the year at the final round of the season down under. Sébastien Ogier finished runner-up to make it a Volkswagen one-two. The champion also won the Power Stage to pick up three bonus points.

 

“That was the perfect end to the season,” said Mikkelsen at the finish. The Norwegian made his mark on the demanding gravel rally, taking the 43rd WRC victory for Volkswagen with the Polo R WRC. “I had nothing to lose. I have been challenging for the title all season, but we went all out for the win here.” Mikkelsen narrowly missed out on second place in the world championship, despite winning in Australia. However, the 27-year-old can look back on a successful season.

 

Mikkelsen led on all three days of the rally around Coffs Harbour on the east coast of Australia. Whether winding through the rain forest or on the fast gravel roads across the open steppe: Andreas always had the upper hand and was able to fend off the challenge of team-mate Ogier, who had closed to within two seconds of Mikkelsen at one point.

 

A mistake from Ogier on Sunday morning prevented what looked like being a thrilling showdown. The world champion spun in a corner on stage 20, “Bucca”, and lost 20 seconds in one fell swoop. This paved the way for Mikkelsen to take victory, while second place was a more than successful way to end the season for Ogier. Jari-Matti Latvala fought back to finish ninth and pick up two points after his collision with a barrier on Friday.

 

Volkswagen now bids farewell to the World Rally Championship after four incredible years. During this time, twelve world titles have gone to Wolfsburg and the Polo R WRC has proven to be the most successful car in the history of rallying.

 

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


Final classification after 23 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time / Diff 1st  
1 A. Mikkelsen / A. Jæger 2h 46m 05.7s  
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia +14.9s  
3 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul +1m 12.6s  
4 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +1m 26.7s  
5 D. Sordo / M. Martí +1m 28.3s  
6 M. Østberg / O. Fløene +1m 41.5s  
7 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +3m 04.3s  
8 E. Lappi / J. Ferm +7m 32.3s  
9 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +7m 56.9s  
10 L. Bertelli / S. Scattolin +8m 00.1s  

Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“I would always have chosen the win.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1

“I was a bit wide exiting a left-hander at the end of the ‘Wedding Bells’ stage, and spun. In the huge dust cloud, it took me a few moments to work out where the road was. We lost almost 20 seconds as a result. However, I have no regrets. Julien and I were really going for it all weekend, and had had a great battle with Andreas up to that point. He deserved the win. The most important thing is that our fantastic team bids farewell to the World Rally Championship with a victory. This is a very emotional moment for me. I have so much to thank the team for. Volkswagen Motorsport has been like a family to Julien and me. I have made a lot of friends and will never forget the wonderful moments we have had together over the past few years. A fantastic journey is coming to an end, and I am proud to have been a part of it.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I enjoyed the final few kilometres in the Polo R WRC on today’s Power Stage. We had some good special stages today and yesterday, and made good progress through the field. We can be happy with our performance over the past few days. Unfortunately, we made light contact with a wall on a bridge on the opening stage, and destroyed the rear suspension in the process. We lost a lot of time as a result, and had no chance of challenging for either the podium or the win. I would have liked to have done that – primarily to give our team a fitting leaving present. Our team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen and Sébastien Ogier claimed a deserved one-two. Congratulations to them both. We will celebrate as a team again this evening, before our time together in the World Rally Championship comes to an end. It is sure to be very emotional.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“What a fantastic weekend, and what a wonderful result at the end of our season. Today has been a very special day, as it was our last appearance as a team. I was so desperate to win this rally for Volkswagen. It is fantastic to have achieved that. Volkswagen is the team that gave me the opportunity to step up into the top class of the WRC. They put a lot of faith in me and made so much possible for me. They will always have a special place in my heart. Everything came together at the final rally. Everything, absolutely everything, worked perfectly – it was simply the optimum of what we have achieved together in four years in the World Rally Championship. On the one hand, it is a bit of a shame that we just missed out on second place in the championship. On the other hand, that is not so important. If I had been given the choice of winning our final rally together or finishing runner-up in the world championship, I would always have chosen the win.”

Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“Today is a very successful day for Volkswagen on the one hand, and an emotional goodbye to the world rally championship on the other. To bid farewell with a one-two is simply fantastic. Despite the difficult situation, the entire team gave their all and was thoroughly professional right down to the final metre. I am incredibly proud of our performance here at the Rally Australia – and over the past few years. I would like to thank everyone in Hannover, Wolfsburg and at the rallies, as well as our partners, who have all contributed to our success. We have achieved a lot and head into our future in motorsport full of confidence.”


Number of the day

48,723.52

 

Between the moment that Jari-Matti Latvala set off on the world rally car from Wolfsburg’s first special stage – at 09:07 on 16 January 2013 – and Andreas Mikkelsen crossing the finish line for the final time in the Polo R WRC at 13:47 and 51 seconds local time, the Volkswagen drivers have completed 48,723.52 kilometres of special stage. That is almost exactly three times the distance between Ikarusallee 7a in Hannover and the Volkswagen service area in Coffs Harbour. There is a strong team behind this success: as well as the team at the rallies and the 200 employees in Hannover, the technical development department in Wolfsburg and the partners of Volkswagen Motorsport have also contributed to the historic success.


Day 3 in Australia.

Saturday, 19/11/2016


Images Day 2 (11)


Day Report

What a thriller: Mikkelsen versus Ogier! 

 

Now the calculations can begin: before the Rally Australia, Andreas Mikkelsen was 14 points behind second-placed Thierry Neuville (B, Hyundai) in the drivers’ world championship – as things stand, he would make good 13 of those points. Which means: the extra points in the Power Stage will be crucial in deciding who wins the inofficial race for the runners-up position in the world championship. Which also means: the season finale, which is also Volkswagen’s finale in the WRC, is a real thriller. This is not just due to the tense battle for second place in the drivers’ world championship – it is also because the racing on the sandy stages around Coffs Harbour is closer than at any point in the whole season.

 

As if that were not thrilling enough, fate is playing its part on the second day of the Rally Australia: on the 16th special stage, leader Mikkelsen hit a stone and damaged the footwell of his Volkswagen Polo R WRC. He was forced to complete the remaining kilometres with overlapping pedals and lost about ten seconds to his pursuers. Up to that point, the Norwegian driver had remained unscathed and had kept the competition at bay but his advantage has now melted away. He is now exactly twelve seconds ahead of Hayden Paddon (NZL, Hyundai), while just two seconds separate him from team-mate Sébastien Ogier.

 

On day two, the French driver showed just why he is a four-time world champion* and conjured up a great performance on the Australian east coast. Ogier used every trick in the book as he realised that the first driver out really cleans the course for the rest of the field and hardly has any grip. The champion surprised everyone with an unconventional and courageous tyre selection in the morning: “I had to take a risk if I wanted to be even halfway competitive. As first driver out on this really dusty track, I have so little traction that I would have just been sliding around on hard tyres.” Which means: Seb chose to put on four soft tyres – and he was proved exactly right. On the first special stage, he lost 12.6 seconds to Hayden Paddon (NZL, Hyundai) and was overtaken by him – but it could have been even worse. For example, Neuville started directly behind Seb and lost ten seconds more on the 50-kilometre “Nambucca” stage. Ogier was able to retake the place from Paddon on the following stages and put some distance between them. They will start in reverse order tomorrow, which means that Ogier can look forward to better track conditions.

 

The third Volkswagen driver, Jari-Matti Latvala, also announced his presence Down Under with an impressive performance on the second day. With two best times – one of them on the re-run of the legendary “Nambucca” stage – the Finnish driver showed just what could he could have achieved in Australia, had he not damaged the suspension of his Polo after just a few turns yesterday, losing a lot of time. Latvala will be chasing more world championship points on Sunday, in the final Power Stage and all the way to finish in the Polo R WRC. By that time, Andreas Mikkelsen will hopefully be challenging for the runners-up position in the world championship.

 

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


Classification after 18 of 23 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time / Diff 1st  
1 A. Mikkelsen / A. Jæger 2h 15m 06.2s  
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia +2.0s  
3 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +12.0s  
4 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul +33.8s  
5 D. Sordo / M. Martí +59.2s  
6 M. Østberg / O. Fløene +1m 00.6s  
7 E. Camilli / B. Veillas +1m 21.7s  
8 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +2m 19.9s  
9 L. Bertelli / S. Scattolin +4m 56.6s  
10 E. Lappi / J. Ferm +5m 22.7s  
11 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +7m 33.8s  

Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“Like a slalom skier.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“That was a perfect day for us. Julien and I decided to take the risk and go for it. I used the boundary markers along the track like a slalom skier, as you can tell from the dents on the bonnet. We put all our eggs in one basket with our tyre selection as well – and luckily, choosing four soft tyres paid off. Before the rally, I would not have expected us to still have such a good chance in the battle for the win. Tomorrow will be a thrilling day for the fans. Andreas and Hayden will give their all to claim the win, and I also have nothing to lose.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“From a driving point of view, today was definitely one of our better days and I am very pleased with the two best times. However, my mistake yesterday means that I cannot make a decisive contribution to the overall result. So I will be keeping my fingers crossed that my team-mates Sébastien and Andreas cross the finish line at the head of the field. And then, with the whole team, we will raise a glass to the four extraordinary years that we have experienced.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“Sunday will be really interesting, although I could live with a little less tension. We had a great day today, we were always fast and we managed to stay ahead pretty well. We lost some time later on, as some damage to the footwell meant that the clutch and brake pedals were overlapping. That was a strange situation. It doesn’t change much about the grand finale tomorrow: whether we lead by two seconds or twelve and more – it will be a tough battle for the victory, and we would be happy to win it. We have to give our all until the finish line – and that is exactly what we intend to do.”

Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“Tomorrow will be our grand finale in the World Rally Championship and we can relive everything we have learned in the last four years: it will be a thrilling battle for the win, right up to the finish line. The two Volkswagen duos have put on a great performance to be ahead at this stage and we are looking forward to the last big show for the Polo R WRC. I salute Andreas Mikkelsen, Anders Jæger, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. They got the maximum out of the situation today and have put themselves in a good starting position in the three-way battle with Haydon Paddon. May the best man win tomorrow!”


Number of the day

107

The rally Saturday was characterised by two runs on the legendary “Nambucca” stage. It is 50.80 kilometres in length and represents the longest stage raced against the clock. The main talking points in the morning were the dust and the thick layer of loose gravel, while the afternoon was dominated by skilful husbanding of the Michelin competition tyres. This was the 107th occasion that the three best times had been recorded by the World Rally Car from Wolfsburg, thanks to the best time posted by Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) in the third Polo R WRC, as well as second place for Ogier/Ingrassia and third place for Mikkelsen/Jæger.


Day 2 in Australia.

Friday, 18/11/2016


Images Day 1 (15)


Day Report

One-two for Volkswagen: great starts for Mikkelsen and Ogier.

 

The goal was clear for the three Volkswagen drivers coming into the Rally Australia: after four years, Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen are determined to give their team the best possible send-off from the World Rally Championship. For the latter, there is more than prestige at stake. Andreas Mikkelsen is battling for second place in the Drivers’ Championship down under, and with it the best position of his career – a mission that was clear for all to see from the word go on the opening day of the Rally Australia.

 

Mikkelsen was in magical form, winning five of the first six special stages on the fine, loose gravel around Coffs Harbour. His reward: the lead, and an advantage of 16 seconds over his closest rival at the time, Hayden Paddon (NZL, Hyundai). Mikkelsen did take things a little easier after that, but held on to both the lead and his advantage.

 

In the meantime, his closest rival is no longer Paddon, but fellow Volkswagen driver Ogier. The Frenchman produced a determined display on day one. Although, as the first driver onto the special stages, he spent much of his time sweeping the fine sand from the road for the rest of the field, the four-time world champion managed to keep the deficit in check. To do so, however, Ogier had to push himself to the very limit: “We fought hard for this position. I really cut the corners, possibly more so than I ever have before. Without paying any regard to reflector posts,” said Ogier, who then found better conditions on the afternoon loop, and took full advantage. The champion elect won four stages, making up almost 13 seconds on Paddon, and ended day one 15.4 seconds behind Mikkelsen.

 

Currently second overall, Ogier – together with Mikkelsen – would not only present Volkswagen with a fantastic result at the manufacturer’s final rally, but the world champion could also have a say in the battle for second place in the Drivers’ Championship. The current situation makes this battle particularly intriguing: as it stands, Mikkelsen would gain ten points on his rival Thierry Neuville (B, Hyundai). That would put him just four points behind the Belgian. However, Neuvilles third place is anything but certain. As such, it is quite possible that the second place in the world championship could be decided on Sunday’s Power Stage.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala’s hopes of picking up points at his final rally for Volkswagen also rest on the Power Stage. The rally was just a few corners old when he bid farewell to any chance of winning. He damaged his suspension on the opening stage and lost a lot of time as a result. Latvala now trails the leaders by almost eight minutes.

 

Saturday features seven special stages, including the two runs of the “Nambucca” stage, which is as spectacular as it is long. The variety of different road surfaces make this stage one of the biggest challenges of the entire rally.


Classification after 11 of 23 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time / Diff 1st  
1 A. Mikkelsen / A. Jæger 57m 16.7s  
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia +15.4s  
3 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul +22.5s  
4 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +23.7s  
5 M. Østberg / O. Fløene +38.8s  
6 E. Camilli / B. Veillas +46.6s  
7 D. Sordo / M. Martí +50.2s  
8 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +1m 30.6s  
9 E. Lappi / J. Ferm +2m 20.3s  
10 L. Bertelli / S. Scattolin +2m 24.7s  
...      
16 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +7m 53.4s  

Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“A goog opening day of the rally.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“A good start for us here in Australia. I am very happy with second place for Julien and me. The afternoon conditions were better than expected. I was flat out all day. After all, we have nothing to lose here. The heat is definitely a factor. If it is as hot as this tomorrow, it will be a very tiring 50 kilometres against the clock on ‘Nambucca’. The temperature will also play a role with the tyres. Whatever happens, I will try to stay ahead of Thierry Neuville, in order to help Andreas and Anders in the battle for second place in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I don’t know how often I’ve been in this situation this year. No sooner had the rally got underway, than it was over for me again. I lost a bit of grip in a long right-hander just before a bridge on the opening stage, and caught the bridge with the rear-right tyre. It was not a big impact, but we suffered a damaged suspension as a result and had lost a lot of time by the midday service. This is obviously not how we wanted to say goodbye to the team on our final appearance for Volkswagen. We must now end the rally with dignity.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“An absolutely perfect day for us – it doesn’t get much better than that. The Polo R WRC was better than ever in the morning. The set-up was ideal and fantastic to drive. The conditions out on the route changed in the afternoon, and we struggled a bit with oversteering and understeering at times. We expected to lose a lot of time on those behind us. To lead the rally and have won five stages on the way is absolutely perfect. If we want to clinch second place in the world championship, we are almost compelled to win – and that is exactly what we are trying to achieve here. Our goal has to be to have a good lead by Saturday evening, then we will have a good chance of crossing the finish line in front on Sunday. To achieve this, however, we still have a lot of hard work ahead of us.”

Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“Respect to Andreas Mikkelsen and Sébastien Ogier. Given their starting positions, they both produced absolutely outstanding performances today. The one-two is more than we expected. I am particularly pleased for Andreas, who is setting about his goal of finishing second in the championship with intelligence and consistency. Today we have put ourselves in a good position to end our WRC project with another success. The task now is to continue to work as meticulously and hard as ever to convert this position into a good result over the next two days of rallying. Unfortunately, there will be no happy ending for Jari-Matti Latvala, who hit a bridge and damaged his suspension. He was just really unlucky that this happened right at the start of the day.”


Day 1 in Australia.

Thursday, 17/11/2016


Images Opening Day (10)


Shakedown report

Ogier, ahead of Mikkelsen – promising Shakedown for Volkswagen down under.

 

Good start to the finale: Volkswagen kicked off the Rally Australia with the top two times in the Shakedown. World champions* elect Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), who must open the route on the Friday and Saturday of the rally, and will thus be faced with unfavourable conditions due to a thick layer of loose gravel that covers the Australian roads, were the fastest duo in the FIA World Rally Championship’s (WRC) “free practice”. The second fastest time in the Polo R WRC’s final hurrah went to Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N), who are battling for second place in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship down under. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), who start sixth in Volkswagen’s third world rally car and are thus best-placed to challenge for victory, clocked the sixth fastest time.

 

Following the ceremonial start of the Rally Australia in Coffs Harbour on Thursday evening, the race itself gets underway on Friday morning with the opening special stage “Utungun”. The itinerary features 23 special stages and 312.98 kilometres against the clock.

 

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

 

 

Shakedown result: 

 

1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen, 3m 01.5s

2 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N), Volkswagen, +0.1s

3 Ott Tänak/Raigo Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford, +0.8s

4 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai, +1.0s

5 Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (NZ/NZ), Hyundai, +1.0s

6 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen +1.1s


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“The set-up is right and we have a good feeling for the car.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“The Shakedown passed without any problems. Julien and I would obviously like to finish on the podium at Volkswagen’s final rally, but that will be far from easy. The starting position has a huge influence here. However, the fact that Australia will be the final rally with our team overshadows everything else. We have had four fantastic and incredibly successful years with our team in the World Rally Championship. I will always remember this time. I will be thinking of that this weekend.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“It is obviously a special situation this weekend. The final rally for Volkswagen also means that today was the final Shakedown in the Polo R WRC. We set a good time on the very first run, and then tried a few things out after that. The special stages are promising, and I am looking forward to starting the final rally with the fantastic Volkswagen team.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“We used the first run of the Shakedown to get used to this special gravel. On the whole, we are happy: the set-up is right and we have a good feeling for the car. We are ready for the Rally Australia. The only concern is the amount of dust, which made life very difficult on the first run, when we set off three minutes apart. That will certainly be an issue over the next few days.”

Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“It is obviously always a good thing to start a rally weekend with the top two times. It gives us plenty of confidence ahead of our final race in the World Rally Championship. We want to do well here, and would ideally bid farewell with a win. The very specific conditions at the Rally Australia, with a lot of loose gravel and masses of dust, will make this far from easy. However, we will, as always, do everything in our power to come out on top.”


Opening day in Australia.


Rally Australia preview. The video.

Tuesday, 15/11/2016


Time to say goodbye – An exhibition? Wrong!

 

Volkswagen heads down under for the final leg of its farewell tour. The successful team is looking to bow out of the World Rally Championship in the only way it knows how at the Rally Australia: with a win. After four years and 42 victories from 51 WRC rallies, this would be a fitting final chapter in a remarkable success story. As always, however, Volkswagen’s farewell tour will be far from a stroll in the park.

 

Despite having already wrapped up the Drivers’ title with Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia and Volkswagen having already secured the title in the Manufacturers’ Championship, there is still plenty at stake for Volkswagen down under. Andreas Mikkelsen and his co-driver Anders Jæger are battling for second place in the world championship. The stage is set for a spectacular four-way battle with Hyundai drivers Thierry Neuville, Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo. All four are separated by just 24 points, with Mikkelsen currently third, 14 behind Neuville. This is by no means an exhibition for Volkswagen.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala can only watch on from afar as the race for second place unfolds. A run of bad luck has already forced the Finn to abandon any hope of ending the season in the runner-up spot. However, this does not mean he will be taking it easy and leaving it to the others to battle it out between themselves. After all, the man who finished second in the last two world championships can still snatch third place in this year’s championship. “JML” is currently sixth, 19 points behind third-placed Mikkelsen, following a difficult season that has yielded just one win so far. Jari-Matti is certainly one of the men to look out for this week, having shown some lightning pace at this year’s gravel rallies. Furthermore, he is determined to end his Volkswagen career on a high.

 

Whether or not the aforementioned WRC protagonists will battle it out for victory remains to be seen. Seb Ogier will certainly have something to say about that. The Frenchman will start as a four-time world champion with Volkswagen, that much is certain. However, it could be tough to bid farewell with a win: the usual disadvantage of having to open the special stages is even worse in Australia. The hard gravel roads, which are actually rather pleasant to drive on, are always covered with a layer of fine sand – typically orangey red – which could play havoc with Ogier’s Polo R WRC. Risk of slipping!

 

When it comes to nature, the Rally Australia has everything a rally heart could desire. The marathon flight from Europe is definitely worth the effort for the drivers: whether narrow and winding or expansive and flowing, the route around Coffs Harbour on the picturesque east coast boasts a wide range of characteristics. One minute you are flat out on open land, the next you are weaving along narrow, winding sections through thick woodland in the Australian rainforest. 

 

The sporting situation, route and scenery suggest we are set for a thrilling finale and a worthy conclusion to a fantastic era for Volkswagen in the FIA World Rally Championship. Just 23 special stages remain for Volkswagen to bid farewell to the WRC. On Sunday afternoon, local time, it will be time to say goodbye.

Friday, 11.11.2016


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“The final rally with Volkswagen – that sounds crazy”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“It is a strange situation for everyone at Volkswagen Motorsport. The announcement of our withdrawal from the World Rally Championship at the end of the year was not the way that we, as a team, wanted to celebrate our fourth title. We will now contest our final rally together in Australia. When I look back at the last five years, I do not only think about the success we have enjoyed together. I am grateful to have worked with such great people at Volkswagen. We have formed genuine friendships over the years. I can only hope that I see as many as possible of them again. The final rally with Volkswagen – that sounds crazy. However, I am sure I will be able to put this out of my mind during the rally. Although my starting position is not exactly promising, I will do everything in my power to ensure that we have something to celebrate together again after our final outing in Australia.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“Last week’s news was far from pleasant. It is very difficult to comprehend the magnitude of this decision in such a short time. I can only repeat that I will always remember the time at Volkswagen Motorsport. The many great moments mean a lot to me, and I would like to thank everyone in the team. It is now my duty to focus fully on the season finale in Australia again. I am really determined to do well in my last rally with Volkswagen, and will push hard to try to challenge for the win. My season has not been easy, so a good result in Australia would be doubly nice – particularly as a farewell present to the team.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“The Rally Australia will be very emotional, as we all know that it is the final race for Volkswagen. The team has become very close to my heart. I am very grateful for the great time together, and really want to bid farewell with a good result in Australia. That is also important for Anders and me, because we want to take back second place in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ World Championship from my friend Thierry Neuville. To do so, we must go for the win. However, this will not be easy, as we will be third onto the special stages. Despite this, we will apply pressure from the word go and give it our all. The biggest challenge at the Rally Australia are the sections with fast corners, which are hard to see. A rally in the jungle – that is the best description. I am certainly very motivated and looking forward to Australia, as I really like driving there.”

Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved in four years in the World Rally Championship. We now face our final WRC rally in Australia, and it is going to be a very emotional weekend for everyone in the team. However, we will be doing everything in our power to put the icing on the cake after our twelve world titles, and will preferably bid farewell with the 43rd win for the Polo R WRC. We want to give something back to our fantastic fans around the world for the final time. We will bring to bear everything that has made us so successful over the past 51 rallies: the desire of every single person involved to achieve absolute perfection, an unparalleled team spirit, and a great passion for the sport.”


Background

Volkswagen successes in the World Rally Championship: did you know ...

 

... Volkswagen’s WRC programme will come to an end on the Sunday of the Rally Australia? By that point, Volkswagen will have topped the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championship for an uninterrupted 986 days with Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia and the Manufacturers’ standings for a remarkable 1,346 days in a row. 

 

... Volkswagen has claimed 85 podium results in 51 races so far in the World Rally Championship? 42 of these have been victories, 25 second places and 18 third places?

 

... Volkswagen has made the Power Stage its own? In the 50 Power Stages so far, 194 points have gone to Hannover. The team has achieved 38 stage wins, 27 second places and 26 third places since 2013.

 

... the full set of bonus points on the Power Stage have gone to Volkswagen on four occasions? In Italy and Poland in 2014, and at the rallies in Portugal and Italy in 2015.

 

... the average distance of the 935 special stages the Polo R WRC has contested so far is 18.83 kilometres?

 

... the Volkswagen drivers have finished in the top three on special stages a total of 1,524 times? Even more impressive is the fact that the Volkswagen drivers finished one-two-three 104 times.

 

... Volkswagen holds the record for the longest winning run in the World Rally Championship? The Wolfsburg-based car maker won twelve rallies in a row on two occasions: from the 2012 Rally Australia to the 2014 Rally Finland, and from the Rally Portugal in 2015 to the Rally Mexico in 2016. 

 

... Volkswagen has scored points at every rally since the 2013 Rally Monte Carlo, when the Polo R WRC made its debut in the FIA World Rally Championship?

 

... the team has finished one-two 19 times and one-two-three four times in the WRC over the past four years?

 

... Volkswagen also boasts the greatest number of wins in one season? The team triumphed twelve times in both 2014 and 2015.


Number for the Rally

472,157.347

Volkswagen’s four-year era at the pinnacle of rallying draws to a close at the Rally Australia – and the manufacturer has also enjoyed an impressive record on social networks. On 01 January 2013, the car maker started out with 51,759 fans on its Motorsport channel on Facebook. Shortly before the finale of the 2016 season in Australia, just short of 5.4 million people are fans on facebook.com/volkswagenmotorsport. Text, photo and video content during this time have achieved roughly 472 million contacts and over 15 million interactions. The number of followers on Twitter rose from zero to almost 92,000. Fans of Volkswagen Motorsport reacted to the 11,000 plus Tweets on twitter.com/volkswagenrally about 200,000 times. The team conducts up to 500 chats on WhatsApp during a rally. Honestly, from the bottom of our heart and, for a change, personally: Volkswagen Motorsport Communications would like to thanks the fans, journalists and partners in the World Rally Championship for a fantastic time. Goodbye.